HONDA CENTER — One week after losing to the Pacific Division-leading Ducks in Anaheim on a mid-game slip-up, the San Jose Sharks rebounded Monday with an effort solid enough to hold the lead throughout and win it 5-3.
The immediate reward? Reclaiming the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Markedly more pleased than at the start of the five-game road trip in Southern California, coach Todd McLellan said:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
“We weren’t perfect but we played a darn good game. We skated well, we scored first, which was big I thought for our confidence and everybody found a way to contribute, which was nice to see. It was a total team effort.”
Certainly, the strong start made a big difference for the Sharks, who captured two goals in the first period while shutting out the Ducks and adding another goal just 34 seconds into the second period to take a 3-0 lead.
Up-and-coming forward Brent Burns put San Jose ahead 1-0, 5:46 into the opening period. Joe Thornton raced to the puck to nullify icing and passed it to Havlat in the left corner. Havlat then with a quick centering pass to Burns for the wrister past Ducks goalie Victor Fasth.
Joe Pavelski’s unassisted goal from the slot less than two minutes later put the Sharks up 2-0.
Early in the second period, Matt Irwin fired a one-timer from the point. Fasth made the save but the puck rebounded to a driving Havlat and just like that it was a three goal lead for San Jose which represented awakenings from its scoring lulls.
Havlat told SFBay:
“I’ve felt pretty good since getting back from an injury. We’ve been getting better and better. Our last game felt good too. We had a lot of chances as a team, but couldn’t score and tonight we finally scored two goals.”
The 3-0 advantage over a team as elite as the Ducks this season hinted the Sharks were a different team. To an extent, they were.
Hours earlier, the franchise traded defenseman Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two draft picks. The eight-year veteran wasn’t a scorer but a valuable physical presence.
Sharks players said losing their longtime teammate was difficult, but didn’t attribute their inspired performance to the sentiment. Center Joe Thornton said:
“We didn’t think about it too much. We’re all pros. It doesn’t matter who’s traded. You’ve got to go and play and work hard.”
Not to be underestimated, the Ducks responded 8:16 into the second period, with right wing Emerson Etem driving toward the net and getting a lucky bounce off the Sharks’ Brad Stuart.
Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin launched another puck into the net from the high-slot 58 seconds into the final period to make it a one-goal lead for the Sharks at 3-2.
The Sharks appeared to have regained their two-goal lead when Logan Couture deflected a puck into the net. However, after a video review, a questionable call by the officials disallowed the goal and that could have been the turning point in the game.
But Team Teal would step up their resilience with the eventual game winning goal by James Sheppard, his first with the Sharks. Sheppard, who hadn’t scored a goal in over three years said:
“I did some pretty good things today. … trying to focus on the work is what you have to do. You can’t focus on scoring a goal because the work brings it.”
At 18:20, the Ducks would again make a push with the extra skater and Corey Perry’s goal closed the gap to 4-3, refusing to give up.
A long distance empty-net goal by Dan Boyle off the faceoff with 27.7 seconds remaining would silence the crowd of 16,083 and allow the Sharks to end a 2-3 road trip on an uplifting note.
With this victory, the Sharks tie the Ducks at two games each in the five-game season series. The teams face each other again on Wednesday back at HP Pavilion. Center Logan Couture said of the back-to-back encounters:
“It’s good to win one on the road here in regulation, especially against a good team that has been playing very good at home. We want to make our building tough to come into and hopefully string a couple of wins together.”
The Sharks improved to 7-1-1 when registering at least 36 shots on goal. … Sheppard’s last goal prior to Monday night was on December 11, 2009 with the Minnesota Wild. … This was the first multiple goal win by the Sharks since their 4-1 win over the Canucks on January 27th. … Justin Braun took the lineup spot that would have been Murray’s as the Sharks dressed seven defensemen.