HP PAVILION — Give credit to the coaching staff after their call for more offense. Or, perhaps the energy from a sold-out Saturday night crowd.
Then again, maybe the Sharks were just tired of losing by a goal or ending a game in a shootout.
Whatever the cause, the San Jose Sharks were a newly-energized team Saturday as they notched an actual regulation win at home with a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators.
It would be the first of the Sharks’ last six home games — one-quarter of their 2013 home schedule — that wouldn’t end in a shootout.
The Sharks’ offense would be the focal point of the match as they outshot the Predators a whopping 39-19.
When asked after the game about his team’s dominant offensive play, head coach Todd McLellan said the ability to put nearly 40 shots on goal in a game has always been there:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
“That message had been there for five years, it’s just a matter of reminding them. And the shooting part is great. It’s the re-attacking of the net, it’s the getting to the blue paint, it’s doing it over and over again. I think our players are prepared to shoot the puck, but you have to shoot, and then get back and do it again.”
San Jose would pound Penna Rikke with 15 shots in the first 17 minutes of regulation, not that the scoreboard reflected their efforts, as the game remained scoreless.
But the Sharks would take advantage of a Nashville penalty with 2:32 left in the first period, as Dan Boyle would bee-line the puck past Rinne to give San Jose a 1-0 lead. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture would pick up assists.
It was the first Sharks power play goal since February 23 at Dallas.
When asked about the goal — his third of the season — Boyle sounded more relieved than anything:
Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle
“I’m just glad I got it through. It’s been tough this year getting the pucks through. … It’s frustrating. Again, I’m pretty happy. I hadn’t scored in a while and I’m glad I could help out.”
The Sharks would keep Rinne on his toes and continue to pepper the net with shots in the second period. They would capitalize on their efforts at 8:56 with a second power play goal, courtesy of Joe Pavelski. Couture and Thornton would again pick up assists.
It was the first time since January 27 that the Sharks would get two power play goals in a single game. In addition, the assist gave Joe Thornton his 1,100th career point:
Sharks center Joe Thornton
“I think once it’s all done, maybe you look back at it. But when you’re in the moment, you’re really just focused in. … It’s nice but, you’re worried about the two points at the end of the game.”
Nashville wouldn’t go quietly though, putting pressure on Antti Niemi and threatening to get on the board. The threat would become a reality as Gabriel Bourque would get the shorthanded goal with 5:30 left in regulation, bringing the score to 2-1.
The Predators would pull Rinne with 1:26 left in regulation to add another skater to their assault, but would not be able to capitalize on the advantage, and the Sharks would seal the 2-1 victory.
So, was McLellan happy with the team’s overall effort? Coach responded:
“Offensively, it was as sharp as we’ve been in a little while. That’s probably the best way to put it.”
The San Jose Sharks hit the road to kick off the week, facing the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.