Back in February, Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out his team for not coming to the defense after a hit on Radim Simek by Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault.
There was no similar feeling from Boughner and team captain Logan Couture after the Sharks' 5-4 overtime loss to the Golden Knights on Friday night.
The Sharks (8-10-3) fell down 2-0 in the first period, 3-0 in the second period and 4-2 in the third period before Couture and Kevin Labanc scored late goals to force OT with the Golden Knights (15-4-1).
"I was proud of how we played," Couture told reporters after the game. "I thought we battled. We were down two, with I think 12 [minutes] left, even before that [Kurtis Gabriel] steps up for us and fights [Ryan] Reaves, and obviously, they got one right away. But I thought the energy for the rest of the third period after that fight was in our favor. So everyone played well. I thought we played hard. Unfortunate that we didn't get two [points], but happy that we were able to get one [point] there."
Games between the Sharks and Golden Knights are always testy and Friday's contest was no different. Before the game, Gabriel and Reaves were seen having an animated conversation at the team benches.
When the third period was getting set to start, Gabriel and Reaves dropped their gloves and put forth an epic fight. Both received five minutes for fighting.
And while Vegas winger Alex Tuch scored moments after the fight to give the Golden Knights a 4-2 lead, Boughner disagreed with a reporter's assessment that the visitors to SAP Center fed off the scrap.
"I thought that worked in our favor," Boughner told reporters during his postgame Zoom press conference. "I know they scored right after, but we had a sense of togetherness on the bench and we never stopped attacking. It didn't matter that they got that fourth goal. We had nine minutes or whatever it was at that point. We were determined to find a way to tie the game up and get a point and try to get to overtime.
"Wasn't the result we were looking for, but tonight was a team that put its head down and work hard, battled through adversity being down 3-0, didn't change our game and kept fighting. We found a way to get a point and in the midst of all that, I thought we stuck together and we played a real hard game."
Despite the result of the game, Boughner was much more pleased with the response from his team Friday.
The Sharks and Golden Knights will get right back at it Saturday night in San Jose, so we'll see if the inspired play by Boughner's team carries over.