Winning Play: Was this game-changing Karlsson pass for real?
Two great plays — one scripted, one improvised — set up Timo Meier’s two goals in the San Jose Sharks’ 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
San Jose was down 1-0 and being severely outchanced late in the second period — per Natural Stat Trick, Dallas enjoyed a 7-0 High-Danger Corsi For edge during the middle frame — when “Timo Time” struck.
Off the Logan Couture (39) faceoff victory, Meier (28) punted it back to Brent Burns (88). Correctly, Valeri Nichuskin (43) closed on Burns, the presumptive shooter.
The wrinkle here was Meier’s movement. Normally, Meier would remain a half-wall option for Burns. Instead, Meier circled around Burns and accepted the hand-off.
Meier admitted, “Burnzie kind of running interference for me there set me up to shoot.”
Featuring Burns and Erik Karlsson, the Sharks’ offense is very point shot-based, which in turn, draws a lot of attention to them up high. So mixing it up can cause confusion and garner a quality look or two more.
This looked like such a change-up.
“We talk before the faceoff about what we’re trying to do,” acknowledged Meier. “You want to have some movement. Obviously make them read and react. The more interchanges you can have, screws them up a little bit.”
This strike, fortunate as it was in some ways, helped San Jose head into the final frame tied, instead of down and dominated.
On Meier’s next goal, Erik Karlsson (65) literally turned the tide:
Four attacking Stars crossed the blueline. Miro Heiskanen (4) tried to finesse the puck through Karlsson.
”It’s an incredible play by Karlsson to knock that puck out of the air, chip it off the wall,” said Dallas head coach Jim Montgomery.
Karlsson’s swing sparked a San Jose 3-on-1 the other way, which Meier finished off.
Was Karlsson fortunate or fantastic? This was the debate in the press box after that jaw-dropping play.
Karlsson quipped, of his swing, “I can’t say that was meant to be. Played tennis growing up a little bit. Hand-eye is decent.”
That said, the most extraordinary thing about this play might not have been Karlsson’s hand-eye coordination. It was, we presume, Karlsson’s ability to read how many Stars were coming one way and how many Sharks could go the other way.
Karlsson did not comment on that after the game.
Meanwhile, Peter DeBoer was pleased with how his team has responded to adversity recently, including last night. “Our game’s tighter. We’re not giving up as much.
“When we do get down, we’re not making poor decisions, trying to immediately get back into the game. We showed some patience tonight.”
Having your stars back — a healthy Meier, a more comfortable Karlsson — has helped San Jose round out their game and win five of their last six.