Believe it or not, the Sharks entered Thursday’s game with only one winning streak longer than two games this season.
Now, they have two.
With a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars (16-13-3) at SAP Center, behind 2 goals from Timo Meier, the Sharks (17-11-5) claimed their fifth win in six games and may have found the consistency they have been searching for all year.
Captain Joe Pavelski said:
“We’ve played some good hockey, more complete hockey. We’re just having a better understanding of what it takes to win right now.”
Meier has been at the center of the team’s success of late. Joe Thornton said:
“You can see the confidence just oozing out of him.”
The 22-year-old has come alive since returning from a brief injury a few games ago, notching 5 goals and nine points in his last five games. His 19 goals on the year brings him within one of Joe Pavelski for the team lead.
Head coach Pete DeBoer said:
“He’s been if not our best player, one of our best players all year. He’s feeling it right now. He’s been making big contributions for us.”
On Thursday, Meier sparked the offense again with his second straight 2-goal outing. He gave the Sharks their first lead early in the third period on an odd-man rush. Off a turnover forced by Erik Karlsson, the Sharks sped into the zone on a 3-on-1, with Meier on the right side. He passed it off to Logan Couture in the middle before receiving a return feed and burying it up high into the net to put the Sharks ahead 2-1.
Meier dismissed a question about his confidence level, instead opting to talk about the team:
“Most important is we get wins here. We’ve had a tough schedule. To get a couple wins in a row, it feels good for the team. We want to build on those.”
Thornton added an insurance marker a few minutes later, tapping one into a gaping net after finding a loose puck point-blank. Miro Heiskanen cut the lead in half for the Stars at 12:24 of the third, but the Sharks held on for the win.
The Sharks sped away in the third period after a lackadaisical first two frames. They were fortunate to enter the third with the game tied 1-1. Sloppy in the second, San Jose allowed Dallas to open the scoring off a Brent Burns turnover that led to a goal by the Stars’ Radek Faksa from point-blank.
Even when Meier evened the score at 16:20 of the period with a wrist shot from high in the slot that found its way through traffic past Anton Khudobin, the Sharks gave up multiple prime scoring chances immediately afterwards.
Goaltender Martin Jones, though, was up to the task. He made several big saves to keep the game scoreless in the first and maintain the tie in the second. Jones finished with 20 saves on the night.
DeBoer said the difference in this recent stretch of wins has been the Sharks tightening up their game.
“I don’t think we’re giving up as much. When we do get down, we’re not making poor decisions trying to immediately get back in the game and have it end up in the back of our net instead of going the other way.”
The first period was listless, featuring little flow or rhythm on either side. The teams combined for just eight shots, and the Stars didn’t put a shot on target until midway through the first period.
“I thought we showed some patience tonight. We got down in the game. We juggled the lines a little bit, found a little bit of jump.”
The Sharks might have found the jump needed for their season. With 39 points, they’ve tied the Ducks for second in the division and are three points behind Calgary for first. According to newcomer Erik Karlsson, who himself is starting to play better after a sluggish start, the team is getting closer to finding that sweet spot:
“It’s getting better and better. As a team, we’re starting to grow into what we need to be. … We’re starting to find our groove here and we just got to keep building on that.”
The Sharks will hit the road for two games, starting with a trip to Chicago to face the Blackhawks Sunday. They’ll play in Minnesota on Tuesday before returning to SAP Center for a four-game homestand.
The Stars had won the first two games of the season series in regulation. … Karlsson, who assisted on Meier’s goal, has 21 points in his last 33 games. … Head coach Pete DeBoer juggled the forward lines in the third period, which saw the Sharks produce 2 even-strength goals. … The Sharks have a six-game point streak at SAP Center.