SAN JOSE – As well as the Sharks have been playing at home lately, a post-Thanksgiving Day matinee could have been one of those games in which they would have been better off on the road. Coach Pete DeBoer even said so before Friday afternoon’s meeting with the New York Islanders at SAP Center.
While the Sharks players were presumably enjoying the holiday and cleaning their dinner plates with friends and family, the Islanders were holed up in their team hotel, likely treating it like any other Thursday night. Consequently, New York had the early energy, jumping out to a 1-0 lead and controlling the pace.
The Sharks, though, eventually came around. They scored a pair of goals in the second period to take a 2-1 advantage, and although they gave up a late score to Nick Leddy, won in thrilling fashion with 22 seconds to go on a Patrick Marleau deflection.
No, they didn’t have their A-game, but the 3-2 win was a commendable effort nonetheless.
“I didn’t think our first five or 10 minutes were great. Felt a little slow, a little sluggish,” Chris Tierney said. “But, I thought we did a good job getting going. … This was just about kind of finding a way today, I guess.”
Brent Burns said: “It's big to get a win after Thanksgiving. You always worry if the legs are going to show up, or if the turkey is going to show up. It's nice to see the boys were skating and working.”
Aaron Dell, who did everything he could in his previous start in Carolina 10 days ago when the Sharks were decidedly drowsy in a 1-0 loss, played well again in net. He finished with 26 saves, and is now 2-1 with a 1.93 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in his first NHL season.
He’s proving he can play in the NHL, and on Friday he allowed Martin Jones to rest up for the important divisional matchup on Saturday with the Ducks.
"We talked right from camp about the importance of a good backup, especially at this time of the season with back-to-backs and a condensed schedule,” DeBoer said. “With the way he's playing, we feel very confident that if [we want to] give Jonsey a rest, we’re going to get the job done."
Two of Dell’s three starts have come against the Islanders, and both have resulted in 3-2 Sharks wins.
“I think it helped a little bit to have some experience against them,” Dell said.
The game-winner from Marleau was one of those goals that Joe Pavelski typically scores – get open in the slot, and redirect a shot or pass from the point. In fact, in the previous game with the Islanders on Oct. 18, it was Pavelski’s slick third period redirection that proved to be the difference.
But Marleau, who seems energized from getting bumped up to the top line for the past three games, was the hero on Friday afternoon.
“You don't like to see another team tying it up that late in the game, but I think we had the right mindset going right back out there and trying to get the win right away,” Marleau said.
DeBoer didn’t have to say anything to his group after Leddy’s goal with Thomas Greiss pulled for an extra attacker at 19:02 tied it at 2-2.
“It wasn't a lot of messaging from me. It was from the guys,” he said. “[Joe Thornton’s line] said, 'Hey, let's go out and win this game.' And they hopped over the boards and got the job done."
The Sharks should be more engaged from the drop of the puck on Saturday when the Ducks make their second visit of the season, just as they were for Wednesday’s impressive 2-1 win over the Blackhawks. Friday’s game wasn’t their best, but they still managed to secure two points and move into a first place tie with Edmonton in the Pacific Division.
DeBoer said: “We're in the middle of a really tough stretch of the schedule, a lot of games ... We're just trying to grind through, and put points in the bank."