TORONTO – It wasn’t pretty, but the Sharks found a way to get by the Maple Leafs on Tuesday to start their road trip on a good note, 3-2 in a shootout. The three takeaways from their only appearance at Air Canada Centre…
1 – Lackluster through the first two
About the only time the Sharks had any real pressure in the offensive zone through 40 minutes was on the power play, but even then life was far too easy on Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen. They needed someone to make a play, and eventually it happened courtesy of Justin Braun.
When asked about Andersen playing well, Joe Pavelski said: “To a point, yes [he was]. To a point, it felt like it was on us. We maybe made it a little too easy on him at times.”
From his perspective, Martin Jones thought the team was “a step slow the first couple periods.”
“Just couldn’t really get anything going,” said the goalie, who had another strong outing. “We weren’t really around their net, we were a little bit too perimeter.’”
Still, Pete DeBoer figured that the Sharks didn’t necessary get outplayed, even if they weren’t firing on all cylinders.
“We had a lot of chances, we had a lot of shots. I didn’t like our game, I didn’t think it was great, but I didn’t think we were on our heels all night or anything like that,” said the coach. “We haven’t gotten rewarded in a lot of nights with a lot better efforts than tonight.”
2 – First shootout of the season
The Sharks have practiced shootouts throughout the year, since – love it or hate it – that extra point in the standings can make or break a season. There were no surprises from DeBoer, as he went with his two most dangerous goal scoring forwards in Pavelski and Logan Couture, whose five-hole wrist shot on Andersen was the difference.
That they didn’t have a single game advance to the shootout through the first 28 didn’t make much difference, said the captain.
“I don’t know if it matters if you’ve done 10 or one. You come down, you make your move, and try to cash in,” Pavelski said.
3 – Success without Vlasic
The Sharks were 7-7-1 without their best defensive defenseman last season, and now 1-0 this year when Marc-Edouard Vlasic doesn’t suit up. DeBoer relied heavily on Brent Burns to eat up Vlasic’s minutes, as Burns had a whopping 32:32 of ice time, while David Schlemko returned from three games out due to an ankle injury and skated with Vlasic’s partner, Braun.
“Stuff like that is going to happen all year, you never know when you’re going to get slotted with different guys,” Braun said. “We’ve been playing together here and there throughout the year. … These aren’t new guys anymore. It was fine.”
Vlasic skated on Tuesday morning before the game, and every indication is that he won’t be out for long.