Hockey is a team sport and the Sharks are finally playing like a team. Goaltender Martin Jones stopped 26 shots last night and the Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0. Jones made some great saves, but when he was in trouble, his team bailed him out. It was enough for the goalie’s 20th career shutout.
“I thought the way we defended tonight was outstanding,” said Jones after the game. “Back pressure through the neutral zone. We didn’t really give up anything off the rush, which was huge. Just a really, really solid game from everybody.”
The Sharks now head home with a two-game road trip sweep. Better yet, the team has won five straight and seven of its last eight games.
From start to finish, the Sharks played their game. They were out shot 8-5 in the first period, but the scoreboard is where the numbers matter most and that stayed at 0-0 after 20 minutes.
Both teams came out looking to score in the second and tempers started to flare. At the 5:05 mark of the second period, Timo Meier got into a scrap with Greg Pateryn. Meier got in a few good rights and Pateryn headed to the dressing room for a few stitches. Both players received five for fighting.
Fists are flying in Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/wYSY5sWgn0— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 19, 2018
The fight seemed to energize the Sharks, who put the pressure on and finally got one past Devan Dubnyk. Lukas Radil tossed a sweet behind-the-back pass to Logan Couture, who was right there in front of the net. Couture wasted no time getting the puck past Dubnyk and putting the Sharks in the lead 1-0.
Radil finds Juicy. Lamp. Lit. pic.twitter.com/dtPvrehSgP— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 19, 2018
Not to be outdone, Captain Joe Pavelski did some goal scoring of his own. Just 29 seconds later, Pavelski received the puck from Tomas Hertl, did a little fancy footwork at the Wild blueline and then took it to the net. Top shelf and a 2-0 score.
Spin move, top shelf. The Big Pavelski abides. pic.twitter.com/JGMam3jSQj— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 19, 2018
The second period ended with a Sharks power play. The team could not capitalize, but did get some carryover time into the third.
At the start of the third, San Jose didn’t score on the power play, but made it 3-0 just seconds after the penalty to Mikko Koivu expired. It was once again Couture. Erik Karlsson was swarmed by Wild players at the blueline, but managed to get the puck to Hertl at the center of the Wild zone. Hertl dished it out to Couture, who shot from the side of the net and scored his second of the game.
Scoring is so nice, Cooch did it twice. pic.twitter.com/0DbRaJEpBo— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 19, 2018
After that, it was up to Jones to stand tall. He had a number of key saves including this one in the waning minutes of the game.
Check your wallets, Martin Jones is out here robbing people. pic.twitter.com/y2eMgxrnif— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 19, 2018
With just under three minutes remaining, the Wild pulled Dubnyk for the extra attacker. Radil made them pay, tacking on an empty netter. Radil had a goal and assist tonight.
All around it was a solid 4-0 win for the Sharks. While the score tells the story, let’s look at the stats, anyway. A look at possession in all situations shows the Wild had the puck more often than not for the first half of the game, but the Sharks turned the tables about midway through the second period. That’s about the time San Jose started scoring.
The heat map shows just how good Jones was last night. You can see that the Wild had plenty of shots up close, below the dots and Jones stopped them all.
One more note from the game: Radim Simek had another solid night. During the first intermission, Bret Hedican was on the radio talking about Simek’s play. Hedican says Brent Burns is happy to be playing alongside the 26-year-old NHL rookie because, “...[Burns knows] that [Simek] stays on his side of the ice. He doesn’t run around.” For his part, Simek is contributing on the scoreboard, too. He had two helpers last night.
The Sharks now return home to get ready for a heavyweight bout against the Winnipeg Jets.