SAN JOSE – A bit unexpectedly, the Sharks and Coyotes played a wildly entertaining game at SAP Center on Saturday night, ending in a 3-2 shootout victory for Arizona. There was hitting, fighting, scoring, and perhaps the save of the year in the third period. Let’s get to the three takeaways…
1 – Sharks handle the physicality
When you’re a team like the Coyotes, that don’t come close to matching up to the Sharks on paper, you’ve got to find other ways to try and win. Ramping up the physical play, and attempting to turn the game into a special teams battle, was surely part of their game plan before the puck dropped.
“We want the game to be five-on-five, but that’s hockey. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” Pete DeBoer said.
Logan Couture said: "It's been like that all year against those guys. Got a little chippy. They're a division rival, so you expect games like that."
Although they ultimately lost, the Sharks handled themselves well in what turned out to be an emotional game. Brenden Dillon stepped in to fight Lawson Crouse early, and Micheal Haley – a bit of a surprise participant getting in ahead of Ryan Carpenter, who has been effective – showed why he’s still a valuable part of the team, too.
Dillon said: “I think the [Crouse hit] on Hertl was a little bit late, and that was kind of why I went to make sure we’re sticking up for one another out there.”
“We’re not going to get pushed out of a game, so that’s what you get,” Pete DeBoer said.
2 – Another power outage
During the Sharks’ stretch of winning eight of nine, the power play was a solid 7-for-28 (25.0 percent). Their two-man advantage at the end of the first that carried over into the second, though, was miserable, generating just one shot on goal over the two minutes and six seconds. (It didn’t help that the ice was “terrible,” according to Dillon).
When the Sharks’ power play isn’t scoring, they are still a very good team, sitting seventh in the league in even strength scoring ratio. When the power play is going, though, they are elite. How that unit performs from now until the end of the year and going into the playoffs could very well determine whether this is a championship team.
3 – That save
Although it didn’t do anything to change the result, Martin Jones robbing Tobias Rieder on a two-on-one in overtime should get some serious consideration for save of the year for whatever shows track that sort of thing.
How did Jones see it develop?
“Just a two-on-one. I was probably a little aggressive on the shot and I was just playing catch-up,” Jones said. “It happens quick out there.”
DeBoer said: “He’s come up big for us a lot lately.”