It wasn’t, as they say, a Picasso, but the Sharks managed to get past the Ducks in overtime on Tuesday night, 3-2. Read on for the three biggest takeaways from San Jose’s seventh win in its last eight tries…
1 – Finding a way
It’s tough to be too critical of the Sharks’ performance despite them being outplayed by Anaheim for most of the night. After all, the team was forced to have its morning skate earlier than usual on Tuesday, and had to fly to Anaheim in the morning due to the CBA-mandated days off for Christmas. Further, the Sharks have only held one single practice in their last 16 days, so they can be forgiven a bit if the details in their game are starting to slip.
Despite all that, they managed to find a way, and they’ve been doing that often lately in games that they aren’t at their best – for example, road games in Toronto and Ottawa two weeks ago, when they utilized the shootout to claim victory. Now that it’s after Christmas, stockpiling those points will become even more important, no matter how they come. They did that against Anaheim.
After the game, coach Pete DeBoer told reporters: “It’s a tough game to play as a road team, travelling on game day. We found a way.”
Brent Burns told CSN: “It’s a tough game traveling the day of the game, coming off the break. It’s a recipe for a lot of bad things. I think we didn’t play a good game, but it shows a lot about the group. … You get the two points, it doesn’t have to be pretty.”
2 – Power outage continues
The most glaring aspect of the Sharks’ game that was off was their power play, as they went 0-for-4 and surrendered more scoring chances to the shorthanded Ducks than they themselves generated while up a man.
We wrote here yesterday that it may be time for DeBoer to shake up his top unit, and he did that in the third period when Kevin Labanc replaced Patrick Marleau. Marleau was booted from the top unit earlier this season mid-game, but returned the next game. Perhaps it’s time to give Labanc, or someone else, more time on the top unit to see if that sparks something. They’ve been off for far too long on what is now the 20th-ranked power play in the NHL (16.4 percent).
The biggest feather in the Sharks’ cap was that they managed to stay out of the penalty box, giving the hot Ducks power play just one opportunity that they didn’t capitalize on. Martin Jones was also on top of his game, which is simply becoming the new norm for the emerging goalie.
“He’s been great since he’s been here, so it’s not shocking to us,” Brent Burns told reporters about Jones. “He’s been huge every night. He kept us in that game, and that’s not a secret.”
3 – OT dominance
The Sharks improved to 4-1 in overtime this season, including two straight games. Joe Pavelski and Burns made this one happen, with Pavelski’s slick pass to the Wookiee and his subsequent move on Gibson giving the Sharks the win.
Anaheim never had the puck and didn't register a single shot on goal – and neither did the Oilers on Friday before it was Labanc that ended that one in San Jose’s favor.
“We have a lot of skill and I think they have some confidence when we get in that situation that if we give something up, [Martin] Jones is going to make a save,” DeBoer said. “We aren’t afraid to take some chances going the other way.”
Pavelski described the game-winning goal to reporters.
“[Burns] jumps up in the play, and once he gets that puck in tight, he makes a big time play.”