SAN JOSE It was just about a perfect night until there were less than five minutes left in the third period.
Thats when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara managed to secure a loose puck in the high slot, skate deep into the Sharks zone, and bank in Bostons first goal of the night from underneath the goal line while Antti Niemi looked like a fish out of water during the mad scramble.
Just like that, it was a 2-1 Sharks lead - and anyones game again. But San Jose stuck with its gameplan and made it a quiet final 4:15 to send the sellout crowd home happy.
There were a number of encouraging signs in the Sharks hard-fought win over the defending Stanley Cup champs, including Daniel Winnik finally getting on the scoreboard. But the fact that the team didnt allow panic to set in and really didnt surrender any more prime scoring chances after the Bruins scored is noteworthy, and a positive sign with just eight games left.
A little breakdown when they scored, but we got right back on the horse and got right back after them, Joe Thornton said.
Todd McLellan said: I think panic sets in when youre cheating the game a little bit and maybe doing things wrong, but we were doing a lot of things right. They scored one, we settled back in, and did what we were supposed to do. The question now, can we repeat it and play a good game against Phoenix? I know we can, weve just got to get out and do it.
The 10th place Sharks host the Coyotes on Saturday, looking to draw even in points with seventh place Phoenix.
RELATED: NHL standings
Bs notice Sharks energy: The Bruins fell for the second time in two tries against the Sharks this season, including a 4-2 loss at TD Garden to San Jose way back on Oct. 22.
Boston had won two in a row before last night, including an 8-0 thrashing of the Maple Leafs on Monday. They had some complimentary things to say about the Sharks after the game.
They came out playing like they wanted to turn things around, goaltender Tim Thomas said. They have been on a losing streak kind of like we had been.
Head coach Claude Julien said: I thought they set the pace early in the game and it took us a long, long time to catch up to it. Near the end it was better, but we had a lot of players that looked a little sluggish tonight and we didnt seem to have the same energy that we have had the last few of games.
The Sharks now hope the Bruins do them a favor, as they play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. The Kings have won six in a row, including Thursdays 1-0 shootout win over St. Louis.
More from Winnik: Daniel Winnik said after the game that he wasnt letting his scoring drought get to him. He said something similar last week, and essentially repeated it after the Bruins game.
Im not a guy that racks up the points, but I thought since I came here I made some nice plays and had been setting guys up, he said. I know it was just a matter of timing.
He recognized the importance of the total team effort.
Its huge. Theyre obviously a Stanley Cup contender and one of the best teams in the East. The way they play, they play that playoff style big bodies, very skilled up front. I thought we handled them well.
We cant rely on our top two lines to score every night, our third and fourth have to start chipping in. Thats what the better teams in the league do. Weve got guys on our third and fourth that can do that, so I think it was just a matter of bearing down.
Checking the race: While the Kings took over the Pacific Division lead by virtue of their win, the Sharks got a little bit of help in the standings last night. Calgary fell in a shootout to Minnesota, 3-2, Phoenix knocked off Colorado in regulation, 3-2, and Vancouver beat Dallas in regulation, 2-1.
Checking the ever-popular sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks increased their playoff probably by more than 13 percent last night, and are now have a 50.8 percent chance of making it.
There are no games of interest regarding the Western Conference playoff race tonight, but there are several tomorrow, including the Sharks-Coyotes game. Calgary visits Dallas in the afternoon; Vancouver is in Colorado, and the Bruins visit the Kings.