The groggy style of play that comes along with having four days off reared its ugly head early in the Sharks’ Thursday night rematch with the visiting Oilers. “It took us a little bit too long to get going,” Joe Pavelski admitted when recalling that Team Teal entered the third frame trailing 3-2 after giving up a 2-1 lead midway through the second stanza.
But San Jose regrouped and reevaluated, and in the end came out on top 4-3, mostly because of the team’s younger players. Defenseman Matt Tennyson registered his first NHL career goal, while surging rookie Barclay Goodrow tallied two points on the evening including his second career goal. “They are really starting to feel like they belong,” Todd McLellan said of the youngsters in the lineup. “The youthful enthusiasm is spreading throughout the team.”
If any young player is truly encompassing that enthusiam, it’s Goodrow, who as part of the Sharks’ most recent third line combo has been a huge playmaker on San Jose’s recent homestand. “It was nice to get out there and contribute more than one (point) tonight,” Goodrow said with a slight grin. “I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable over the last couple of games. I thought I played a lot better.”
His veteran teammates were a bit more complimentary. “(Barclay) was flying around all night,” Pavelski said. “He is one player who was in it right from the start, it’s good to see him get rewarded.”
The other player getting props was Tennyson — the former Jr. Shark made his first career goal look effortless. But when asked about it afterwards, the 24-year-old d-man shrugged and said: “Good to get that out of the way. And it was a goal that tied it up for us, so that makes it even better.”
Edmonton got on the board first, when a backhanded shot by Boyd Gordon eluded Antti Niemi for a soft goal to put the visitors up 1-0 with 5:12 left in the first frame.
Following a dangerous and productive penalty kill in the second period, that third line came out in full force to tilt the ice in San Jose’s favor. Goodrow had possession of the puck behind the net and passed it up to James Sheppard, who was right in front of the paint. Sheppard’s sniper shot past goaltender Ben Scrivens to tie things up 1-1.
Not two minutes later later, Logan Couture skated through the Oilers defense and lined the puck past Scrivens stick-side to give the Sharks their first lead of the evening, 2-1. It was short-lived, however, with chaos in front of San Jose’s net and Steven Pinizzotto poked the loose puck through Niemi’s legs to knot it back up 2-2. Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins caught the Sharks’ defense napping a few shifts later and putted another puck five-hole to give Edmonton the lead back 3-2.
On the power play, Tennyson came off the rush and wristed the puck past Scrivens, knotting the game back up 3-3. “It was good to see us battle back, and we had to do it twice,” Tennyson said of San Jose tying the game yet again. “It’s something we need to keep doing if we’re getting down, and we have the guys in this room to (mount) that comeback.”
Goodrow put the Sharks back on top after he fought against Edmonton’s defense on the breakaway and backhanded the puck to the back of the Oilers’ net for the game-winner with a little over half of the final frame left to play. Niemi, who had looked sluggish in the first two frames, made a few big saves late in the third to keep Edmonton from putting another goal on the board.
Hopefully having just one day in between games will dispel anymore sleepy play for the Sharks, as they end the homestand before the Christmas break on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
The Sharks third line, comprised of Goodrow, Sheppard and Melker Karlsson, was responsible for five of the Sharks 11 points (both goals and assists) Thursday night.
— With his goal in the second period, Logan Couture now has 15 points in 15 career regular season games against the Edmonton Oilers.
— Matt Tennyson became the third Sharks player this season to score his first career goal.