Sharks snap losing skid with Wild win
SAP CENTER — It’s hard to believe the San Jose Sharks entered Thursday night’s game on a four-game losing streak with an almost non-existent power play.
Not to mention that when they last faced the Minnesota Wild Sunday in St. Paul, they were leveled 3-1.
Such was not the case on their home ice, as their power play took center stage in their raucous 3-1 domination of the visiting Wild.
It probably didn’t hurt either that Minnesota — who entered Thursday’s tilt ranked 23rd in the league on the penalty kill— got in trouble from the get go, giving San Jose four good power play attempts in the first period alone.
When asked about the importance of getting the power play back on track, Logan Couture was frank:
“We went through a stretch there it was losing us some games. I think our power play was the reason why we weren’t winning. In this room we’ve got a lot of skilled players who should go out and should create momentum for our team if we aren’t scoring, and we’re starting to score some goals, so it’s good to see.”
But it wasn’t just confidence on the man advantage that the Sharks regained Thursday evening. Head coach Todd McLellan explained:
“The one thing they got back was their work ethic, for the most part. If you start there you can certainly build off of it. Three (goals on the) night is a good night. A night that we’ll take, and it obviously won us the game. Confidence is a strange thing, it can come and go quickly, and you have to work hard to maintain it.”
On the Sharks’ first power play, Joe Pavelski launched the puck from the right faceoff circle and it bounced into the blue paint and between Niklas Backstrom’s legs. Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton notched assists as the Sharks took an early 1-0 lead.
They added to the lead on their fourth power play try — still in the first frame — when Tommy Wingels set up Tomas Hertl at a spot almost identical to where Pavelski had scored earlier. The 20-year-old rookie snapped the puck up over Backstrom’s right arm to give San Jose the 2-0 advantage.
San Jose went back on the man advantage early in a chippy second period when Zenon Konopka went to the box for a four-minute high sticking call on Jason Demers.
With pressure in front of Minnesota’s net, and Backstrom not yet recovered from blocking a shot by Matt Irwin, Pavelski nabbed the rebound and wristed it behind the Wild goalie.
Pavelski’s second goal of the night gave San Jose a 3-0 lead at 3:42 in the period.
No. 8 talked about getting that third goal, especially after a stretch when getting two goals wasn’t enough for San Jose to maintain a lead:
“… that third goal was big for us. It gave us a bit more of a cushion, we haven’t been able to find that third one lately.”
Defenseman Jonas Brodin put the Wild on the board with a little over seven minutes left in the third period, but it wouldn’t be enough to keep the Sharks from snapping their losing streak.
The San Jose Sharks hit the road to face the Nashville Predators Saturday. They return to SAP Center to host the Dallas Stars on Saturday, December 21. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks are outscoring opponents 42-14 in the first period this season. … For the third time this season San Jose scored three goals on the power play. They have scored at least two goals with the man advantage seven times this year… It was Joe Pavelski’s 21st career multi-goal game. … With his assist on Pavelski’s two goals, Joe Thornton moved into sole possession of 26th place on the all-time assists list, registering his 815th and 816th assists. … Tomas Hertl took his first career NHL penalty on Thursday, ending a streak of 31 games without taking a minor.