The Morning After: Never a doubt

Life is good for the San Jose Sharks.

You weren’t worried when the Blue Jackets went up 3–1 in the third period last night, were you? I know I wasn’t. Unanswered goals by Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns (on the power play!), Brenden Dillon, and Pavelski again (hat tip to Sergei Bobrovsky for leaving his net too soon) were all the Sharks needed to skate away with their sixth win in a row and sweep their six-games-in-ten-days east coast road trip.

If the Sharks have exhibited one weakness during their winning streak, it’s the power play. In the first five games of the road trip, they’d scored just two power play goals in 18 opportunities, with both goals coming on Tuesday in Boston. That inability to score up a man continued until halfway through the third period last night, when Brent Burns did what Brent Burns does. He didn’t waste any time blasting Joel Ward’s cross-ice pass towards the net and past Bobrovsky to tie the game just seven seconds after Dalton Prout was sent to the penalty box. The Sharks have been getting their fair share of chances on the power play, so hopefully they can build on the momentum of that goal. They’ll probably need it against the defending champs on Wednesday.

It wasn’t just Burns in that third period, of course. The Sharks spent a lot of time chasing the puck around their own end in the second after dominating Columbus in the first, but they turned it on again after Cam Atkinson put the Jackets up 3–1. The Corsi chart almost makes it look like the ice at Nationwide Arena was literally tilted towards one end:

If you’re counting, that’s 26–11 San Jose in the first, 28–15 Columbus in the second, and 23–11 San Jose in the third. No one would have been upset if fatigue had caught up to the Sharks late in the second half of a back-to-back, but they turned things around after the rough second and went on to play some of their best hockey of the road trip.

The Sharks’ surge was led by the first and second lines (the third had a rough night on the scoresheet and neither Mike Brown nor Micheal Haley cracked five minutes of ice time on the fourth). Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson, and Pavelski in particular played a superb game, all finishing with Corsis between +14 and +16 at even strength. Pavelski, in addition to scoring a goal on a Pavelskian tip™ and another into the empty net, was only on the ice for four Blue Jackets shot attempts all night. Thornton was on the ice for three. Patrick Marleau was a +7 and Ward was a +6 in addition to combining for a goal and three assists.

It wasn’t a perfect win, but it was enough to cap a perfect road trip. The Sharks collected all 12 points during their longest stretch away from SAP Center all season, and they now sit alone in first place in the Pacific Division thanks to Carolina’s victory over Los Angeles. Things are looking up for team teal.