With Brent Burns playing through the flu, and Evander Kane and Erik Karlsson still sidelined, the San Jose Sharks needed contributions from their players down the depth chart to keep pace with the division-leading Calgary Flames.
In their 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, they got just that.
Tim Heed, playing in Erik Karlsson’s stead, opposite franchise stalwart Marc-Edouard Vlasic, had massive shoes to fill. While no one was mistaking him for Karlsson on the ice, Heed had a great game, tallying two primary assists.
The first came on a fantastic play stemming from sharp on-ice awareness; Heed identified that the Blackhawks personnel were out of position, caught in the process of making a line change, and made a slick pass to Tomas Hertl out, sending him on a breakaway resulting in a goal. Notice how Hertl immediately points at Heed after potting his 29th goal of the year.
Tomas Hertl gets goals, tonight is no different pic.twitter.com/aRZk3kcVu2— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) March 4, 2019
Of course, this isn't to downplay the smooth hands or patience displayed by Hertl, who was one of San Jose’s best forwards all night (and all season).
Heed’s second primary assist came on a shot from near the blueline, redirected by Timo Meier past Chicago netminder Cam Ward.
At this point, the Sharks led 2-1, with both San Jose goals coming from star-caliber players (Hertl and Meier). However, the next three would come from players slotting in to the bottom-six of the forward rotation: Marcus Sorensen and Melker Karlsson.
Sorensen, who skated on the third line, scored his third goal in two games on a nice feed from Joe Thornton, as the two of them continue to showcase their impressive chemistry. His contributions weren’t limited to goal scoring, however, as he sold out and dove head first to break up a two-on-one breakaway opportunity and preserve the lead for his club late in the third period. Has playoff Sorensen arrived?
Karlsson’s first goal (his second was into an empty net) was emblematic of the hustle shown by San Jose’s fourth line in this game.
The goal itself came from getting in front of and tipping a shot from Brent Burns (something that in itself requires a level of commitment to your team), but was largely created by a Micheal Haley play. After drawing a delayed penalty skating down the wing, Haley was pursued by four Chicago players. Without letting any of them touch the puck and end the possession in the offensive zone, Haley emerged from the other side of the net and dished to Burns, registering his first of two assists.
The Blackhawks pulled their goalie with a decent amount of time left on the clock (3:08 left in the third period), so Karlsson took a couple of shots at getting the hat trick. Unfortunately, none of them ended up in the back of the net, resulting in a 5-2 Sharks victory.
With the two points won, the Sharks get ever closer to catching the division leading Flames, now trailing them by only three points, though Calgary has one game in hand.