After Joel Ward scored his second goal on Saturday evening, you could see that his teammates were trying to set him up to notch a third.
Brent Burns succeeded in setting him up for the empty-netter at 19:03 in the final frame. The result: Many, many hats raining down from the stands as the Sharks solidified a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
While Ward’s hat trick highlighted the win, he expressed that his teammates’ push to set him up to score was what helped them win.
“Pavelski had a pretty good look there, he probably could have taken a whack at it,” Ward said with a smile. “And for him to pass it over — Burns as well. It was just a good team (effort,) solid win.”
It was in fact a team effort that helped San Jose snap a three-game losing streak. Carolina came into the Tank on the back end of a back-to-back and had just been shut out down in LA by the Kings. Putting the worn-down ‘Canes in an early hole and establishing dominance was important for the home team.
“We’ve always talked about the Shark Tank being one of the hardest places to play,” Tommy Wingels said. “When you can put a team down 2-0 in the first eight minutes of a game, that’s hard to come back from.”
Hard even for a team like Carolina, who had managed to get the better of Team Teal in its last several meetings.
“That’s a tough team to play,” Peter DeBoer said. “I think our record coming in, I thought I saw 0-5-1 in our last six against that team. They obviously have had our number.”
This time around, however, the Sharks didn’t let the East Coast club take control. Despite letting the Hurricanes stick around and notch two goals in the second stanza, the Sharks we able to pick the momentum back up.
“They kept getting that goal to keep them in the game,” Joe Pavelski acknowledged of the two times Carolina found the back of the net. “It was just about (the Sharks) making good plays in the neutral zone because their defense was so aggressive. I think you saw our guys were committed, and it has to be a nightly thing.”
The “committed” Sharks’, led by Ward, jumped on backup netminder Eddie Lack right from the start. Lack lost possession of a lose puck down by his shin pad, and Ward skated up to punch it in just 1:21 into the first frame. Later in the period, Ward juggled the puck in front of Lack and chipped it up high into the net to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.
Pavelski rose to the occasion after Carolina cut the lead in half 2-1 when he collected Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s ricocheted shot off the back boards, and poked it in to increase the lead 3-1. Wingels then knocked in his own rebound after Lack couldn’t keep control of the puck and it trickled five-hole. The 4-1 marker chased Lack from the game.
An unfortunate bounce off Martin Jones’ back went into San Jose’s the net and cut lead in half 4-2. But the Sharks’ starter buckled down and was back to his clutch self in the latter part of the final frame as he sprawled across the blue paint to keep Carolina from scoring again.
All the momentum then shifted back to San Jose’s offense, who was working to set Ward up for his third goal of the night and put a tally in the win column.
“I thought we handled the game well. Put pucks in the right places, didn’t beat ourselves, and when we needed a big save, we got a couple a couple big ones from Jones at the right time,” DeBoer summarized. “We wanted to just keep chipping away and work on the process, and we felt that the goals and the wins would follow.”