It’s hard to blame anyone who wanted to turn Wednesday night’s Sharks game off after the first 40 minutes. Before the opening goal late in the second period, the game was, well, a bit of a snooze. Even members of the team agreed.
“It was kind of … it got a little boring there for a while,” Logan Couture admitted. “There really weren’t that many grade-A chances back and forth. We were playing good defensively, we figured we would create some offensive chances. And we did.”
So hopefully you stayed tuned for the third period, when the Sharks did in fact create those offensive chances to notch three goals, including two empty-netters, to catapult them over the Colorado Avalanche 5-1. The victory boosts the Sharks in the standings, bringing them within three points of the LA Kings and five points within the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot.
Not a bad way to return home after a two-week road trip, huh?
“It was such an emotional road trip, with the ups and downs … and then we come home and it took a while to get back into it I think,” John Scott explained. “But I think once the second, third came around, we started to dictate the play and then just kind of turned over the game.”
Scott himself notched the second empty net goal at 16:28 in the game, his third on the season. Even the massive forward admitted what a kick it is when he scores a goal. “It’s always, I guess, funny when I score,” he said good-naturedly. “It’s good, the guys get a kick out of that, and I was surprised to be out there with an empty net.”
Head coach Todd McLellan attributed the late game push to how well the Sharks responded after Colorado’s lone goal. When the visitors cut San Jose’s 2-0 lead in half, Team Teal responded less than two minutes later with a nifty goal courtesy of the second line.
“I thought (Couture) and his line mates did a good job of keeping the forecheck alive,” he said. “That basically made the difference.”
The other difference? A goaltending gem courtesy of Alex Stalock, in his third straight start.
“I saw (Stalock) in the minors go on runs where he’s unbeatable most nights,” Couture said. “Seems like that’s the way he is right now. It’s nice when a goalie gets hot like that.”
Stalock made the stops he needed to in the first 40 minutes despite the slow pace that seemed to plague both teams. Taylor Fedun made a great save in front of Stalock in the first frame, sliding on his belly like a seal to stop the puck from crossing into the blue paint. It was the most action from either team all period.
San Jose finally broke through the monotony late in the second when Brent Burns’ laser shot through traffic found Hannan’s tape and redirected past Colorado netminder Reto Berra to put the Sharks up 1-0.
After eight minutes of back-and-forth to open up the third frame, Chris Tierney punched in a rebound of a Matt Nieto attempt — which was on the rebound of a shot by Fedun — to take a 2-0 lead. It was Fedun’s first point in a Sharks sweater.
On the next shift, Justin Braun was sent to the sin bin on a “delay of game” penalty that sent the home crowd into a fit of jeers. Just 13 seconds into Colorado’s power play, Matt Duchene beat Stalock to cut the lead in half.
The goal from the opposition seemed to light a fire under San Jose’s skates, giving way to what McLellan considered the definitive part of the tilt. After playing almost the whole game with a lack of energy, the second line powered into the Avs’ zone. Couture carried the puck around Colorado’s net before feeding it to Patrick Marleau in the slot to help put the Sharks back up by two. Colorado pulled Berra with a couple minutes left, a move which proved disastrous for the visitors as Couture and Scott put the game in the bag with back-to-back empty-netters to seal the 5-1 fate.
Keep in mind, the Sharks have a pretty manageable schedule over the next week and a half, with a games against Arizona, Dallas and Edmonton before the closer down at Staples Center against the Kings. With how the rose to the occasion Wednesday night, is possible that San Jose could really be making a final push for a playoff spot?
“Hopefully we can get a couple more wins here,” Scott said with a shrug. “Maybe make it interesting.”
— With his goal Wednesday night, Marleau ties Theo Fleury for 55th on the NHL’s all-time goals list with 455.
— Scott had two goals in 236 career games entering the 2014-15 season with the Sharks.
— Burns has 17 assists and 27 points in his career vs Avalanche, his most in both categories versus any team. He is also riding a five-game points streak with six assists.
— Couture has a four game points streak going (three goals, three assists.) His goal and assist on Wednesday made for his fourth career multi-point game against the Avalanche.
— The Avalanche have not won a game against the Sharks in San Jose since February 6, 2008.