SAN JOSE – More often than not, the team that gets the fortuitous bounces is the one that is working harder and smarter.
That wasn’t the case for the Sharks in Arizona on Saturday, when they fired 45 shots on goal and controlled play for long portions, yet lost in overtime.
Against the Devils at home on Monday the work ethic and focus were there again. So, too, were the bounces this time, and the result was the Sharks’ most lopsided win of the season, 4-0.
“That third period we played in Arizona really kind of led us into this game,” Joe Pavelski said. “It’s good to see the guys get rewarded.”
On the Sharks’ first goal, a wide shot by Jacob Josefson took a strange hop off of the boards all the way out to Chris Tierney in the neutral zone, and Tierney eventually whizzed the puck past Keith Kinkaid on a two-on-one.
The Sharks’ third goal on the power play was aided by a Joe Thornton pass that deflected off of Andy Greene’s skate right to Logan Couture’s tape. The fourth score was credited to Brent Burns, but really it was Kyle Quincey, who had the puck bounce off each of his skates before he inadvertently swiped it over the line.
“The good news is we scored some goals,” Pete DeBoer said. “We scored some five-on-five goals, we got a power play goal. We deserved a bounce, and we got one. So, that should build some confidence. It's been a while [since a decisive win], and it's a nice feeling. We haven't had it very often lately."
In search of offense – the Sharks entered the game just 26th in the NHL in goals-per game at 2.28 – DeBoer was forced to shuffle his lines for what felt like the hundredth time. Tomas Hertl’s absence also plays a role.
If you’re a winger on the San Jose roster, you’ve probably spent some time on the Pavelski-Joe Thornton line this season. The latest guy in that position is Patrick Marleau, who showed some jump in the third period in Arizona on Saturday after skating on the third line for just about the entire season.
Marleau played “his best game of the year” on Monday, according to DeBoer, and was particularly good in the first period. He set up Pavelski for a brilliant chance, came flying up the wing on another in which he got a dangerous shot on goal, and was finally rewarded by getting to the front of the net and depositing his own rebound off of the post to make it 2-0 early.
“Pete put him with us in the third period in Phoenix and he looked so powerful,” Thornton said. “Tonight, he was so powerful again. Hopefully he sticks with me and Pav, because he played great again tonight.”
Marleau said: “It's good playing with those guys. The one thing they do is they work hard, and you know you’ve got to pull your weight when you're with them."
The Sharks also seem to be putting last year’s home struggles behind them, improving to 5-2 at SAP Center in what was the first of five straight (and eight of 10 overall) in their own building.
The first game back after a multiple-game road trip was a bugaboo for them last season when they went a pathetic 1-8-1, beating only the Oilers in a shootout. They’re now 2-0 in such situations this year.
“I was concerned coming back off a two-week road trip in the first game back,” DeBoer said. “I wondered how our energy levels would be, and we were good right from the drop of the puck. Good on the guys and their preparation, and it was a good win for us.”
Marleau said: “We haven't been home that much this [year]. It's nice to come back and play in front of our own fans, and get the two points."