Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — There was no way of sugar-coating the Sharks’ hideous performance Monday night when they fell to the Philadelphia Flyers.
So, really, anything San Jose (36-16-6) did in their second-to-last tilt before the Olympic break was going to be an improvement.
The goals were few Wednesday night, but the defensive effort was strong as goaltending sensation Alex Stalock (20 saves) put up another amazing performance.
But it was Tommy Wingels with the game-winner in overtime that propelled the Sharks to a 2-1 win over the Stars (26-21-10).
Wingels, still out of breath from the OT performance, talked afterwards about the team’s collective efforts:
“I thought the forecheck was a lot better tonight, creating opportunities. Still not as many scoring chances as we would like … But we’re happy with the win.”
There seemed to be nobody in the dressing room happier with that win than winger Adam Burish, who took the ice for the first time in the Sharks 2014 campaign.
When asked about how happy he was to be part of the victory, Burish smirked and replied:
“I was a little ticked at Wingels because I was up next and I was thinking that I was going to score the winner there in overtime (laughs) … That’s fine, he can buy me dinner.”
Despite not scoring any goals in the first two periods, the Sharks’ play improved over Monday night’s performance. Their offense was much more steadfast, although they couldn’t get the puck past netminder Kari Lehtonen (18 saves) through almost two periods.
Stalock was on his A-game again, making two particularly difficult saves in the first that kept Dallas from getting on the board early on.
Did already having a victory over the Stars under his belt aid in his success Wednesday night? The backup goalkeep shrugged and answered:
“Seeing them once already helped a little bit. But they’re going to look at things too…”
It was San Jose on the board first with 1:54 left in the second period.
Scott Hannan’s slap shot up the middle might not have made it through traffic, but Marty Havlat got his stick on the moving puck and tipped it past Lehtonen’s block. James Sheppard also tallied an assist as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead.
Valeri Nichushkin got the Stars in on the action in the third period with a wrist shot that missed Stalock glove side. Stars Tyler Seguin and Trevor Daley notched assists as the battle knotted up 1-1.
The Stars had the upper hand in the last 20 minutes of regulation, but a few stellar blocks by Stalock kept the visitors from breaking the tie, taking the contest into overtime.
In overtime, Hannan fed Havlat along the boards, who found an attacking Wingels to deliver the game-winner.
The Sharks will have to harness whatever magic they found Wednesday night as they head into their final game before the Olympic break on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks are 18-6-0-6 in their last 30 games against the Stars… This season, all three games between the Sharks and Stars required extra time. Tonight was the first to end in OT and not the shootout … Tommy Wingels scored the first game-winning OT goal of his career. It was Wingels’ tenth goal this season as well as his third game-winner… This season Stalock has a 1.73 GAA and .937 SV% … Adam Burish played his first game of the 2013-14 season, logging one shot, three hits, and one blocked shot in 10:06 of ice time.