SAN JOSE -- The Sharks were the last team the Anaheim Ducks played last season, and they’ll be the first to play them in 2018-19 when the season opens Wednesday night.
San Jose swept Anaheim out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, outscoring the Ducks 16-4 in four games. That included a 10-2 difference at even strength, and three of those came when the Sharks’ fourth line of Eric Fehr, Melker Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen were on the ice.
The trio controlled nearly 65 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, and over 65 percent of the scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Those percentages dropped to just under 43 percent and nealy 46.5 percent, respectively, when the three were not on the ice. Sorensen led the team in five-on-five scoring that series, and Karlsson finished second.
“They played as much time as they could in the offensive zone,” forward Barclay Goodrow said Wednesday. “They created chances off the cycle, getting pucks to the point and stuff like that. I think it’s exactly how we want to play as a team, and we’re looking to get off to a good start.”
Goodrow likely will skate in Fehr’s position Wednesday, after the 33-year-old signed with the Minnesota Wild this offseason. The fourth-year pro did so during Wednesday’s morning skate, while rookie center Rourke Chartier stayed on the ice longer to work with extra defensemen Radim Simek and Tim Heed.
The 25-year-old has played there before. Last season, Goodrow played center for the first time in his professional career, and did so on the fourth line before the Sharks traded for Fehr on Feb. 20. He played the wing, too, in 47 regular-season games -- his most time in the NHL since his rookie season four years ago, and 31 more games than the previous two seasons combined.
The forward also spent plenty of time with two Swedes. Outside of former Sharks winger Joel Ward, Goodrow played more minutes five-on-five with Karlsson and Sorensen than any other San Jose forward. He also played with Sorensen in the AHL two seasons ago, and broke into the NHL the same season as Karlsson.
“Whether I’m playing or center or the wing or whatever it was, we’ve got chemistry as a group,” Goodrow said. “I think we [played well] in preseason together, so I think we’re just looking to build off of that and get off to a good start.”
The trio played just over nine minutes together in the Sharks’ final dress rehearsal Sunday, a 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. With the three on the ice, San Jose out-possessed, outshot and out-chanced Vegas.
For the second consecutive preseason, Goodrow led the Sharks in points. Four of his six points came during five-on-five play, and all six were a goal or primary assist. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Goodrow won a spot with his performance in training camp last year, and he told reporters Wednesday that Goodrow again stood out.
“I think he’s arrived as an NHL player,” DeBoer said. "He’s versatile. He does everything. I can use him on the penalty kill. He can create offense.
“He’s a big body that’s hard to play against. There’s a lot to like there, and I think he fits.”
The Sharks will not necessarily need to rely on the fourth line for the same amount of offense it produced in the postseason. Two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson now is on San Jose’s back end, and Joe Thornton will play in his first regular-season game since January. Antti Suomela, who led the Finnish league in scoring last year, will center the third line in his NHL debut Wednesday.
But Goodrow believes his previous experience with Sorensen and Melker Karlsson will allow the fourth line to continue to generate chances.
“It’s easy to get a read on where they’re going to be on the ice,” Goodrow said. “We can all read off of each other. We all play a similar style of game, so we’re looking to create as much offensive-zone time as we can and pick up some offense off of that.”