Coach Peter DeBoer had a great way of summing up the Sharks’ victory over the Anaheim Ducks: “Last year is in the rear view mirror.”
Game after game in the previous campaign, San Jose lost steam as the contest would go on. But Team Teal displayed a different style of play in Saturday’s home opener — they picked up the tempo and persistence as the game went on.
Combine that with two goals from Patrick Marleau and a stellar performance from Martin Jones, and the Sharks skated away with a 2-0 win over an Anaheim team that is an early favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
“I thought we showed a lot of character by how well we played, and spending most of the third period in their end,” Jones said. “I thought we did a really good job.”
The first frame opened up with momentum in Anaheim’s favor. But after a sprawling save on the penalty kill by Jones, San Jose began to pick up steam that evolved with each period of play.
“The third was definitely our best, and it needs to be,” Joe Pavelski said, echoing a correction he often made after losses last season. “I’d say last year, that was one of the problems in this room … So hopefully we can continue with (this) trend.”
“For me, that’s how you want to play with the lead,” DeBoer agreed. “ You want to keep your foot on the gas. We kept rolling four lines to keep our energy and our legs, and the best defense for me, in that situation, is spending the period in the other team’s end.”
When the puck was in the Sharks’ zone, however, Jones was on point. Both he and Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen kept the tilt scoreless through nearly half of the game, but it was Jones that held on to keep the puck out of the net.
“He was fantastic, composed, gives you a real calm feeling back there,,” DeBoer said of his goalie’s night. “It was one of those games where both goalies were really good, almost ‘who will blink first?’ And thankfully our guy didn’t.”
The Sharks’ second offensive line applied enough pressure and persistence to finally get the puck past Andersen. Logan Couture passed the puck from behind Anaheim’s net to Marleau, who broke up the stalemate with a beautiful shot that eluded Andersen stick-side. Joel Ward picked up the secondary assist.
Marleau struck again at 15:10 in the third frame with a stunning wraparound goal that squeezed by Andersen. Jones kept up his end of the bargain on his end of the ice by blocking out the Ducks’ last advances before completing the shutout.
Now this is the part where we stop and remember that this is only the second game of the season. But after strong showings against both LA and Anaheim, is this a sign that the Sharks are on a serious upward trend?
DeBoer thinks so. “I think a statement was made, that the Sharks are back and they’re for real this year. We’re only two games in, but we’ve played two tough teams, and I think our game is getting better every day.”