Evander Kane probably said it best after Thursday’s game in Calgary: “You like to think that you can rise to the occasion as a group. I think we did that tonight.”
The Sharks certainly had an occasion to rise to, as they faced the Flames for the first time since getting smacked down in a physical and emotional loss on New Year’s Eve. San Jose responded in a big way, getting contributions on offense, defense, and between the pipes to defeat the Flames 5-2 and move within two points of first place in the Pacific Division standings.
“We knew to win in here we needed everybody tonight,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the media after the game. “We got contributions from a lot of guys. A couple big performances.”
Of course, scoring three goals in 85 seconds to overcome a 1-0 deficit early in the game was a huge help. Kane got the offense started with a nice wrister passed netminder David Rittich. That opened up the floodgates, leading to Brent Burns’ nifty short-handed goal and Tomas Hertl’s tip-in of fellow countryman Radim Simek’s shot. Suddenly, San Jose was up 3-1 going into the first intermission despite Calgary’s constant pushback.
But San Jose’s defensive front deserves a lot of credit as well, particularly when it came to Martin Jones. The starting netminder put on what was probably his best performance of the season, stopping 36 of 38 shots fired at him. He was especially strong on the penalty kill -- which got plenty of work on Thursday night as the Sharks went to the sin bin seven times. Jones had two huge saves on Flames’ top scorer Johnny Gaudreau that easily could have put the momentum back in Calgary’s favor, including one on a penalty kill late in the third frame.
“Five-on-five he looked great, but five-on-four he looked spectacular,” Joe Thornton gushed about Jones after the game. “Their power play looked really dangerous and he probably made six or seven quality saves that probably saved us the game. Big night for him.”
You really have to hand it to the Sharks for keeping their emotions in check as a group. Thursday’s game was expected to turn into a fighting frenzy given the poor terms San Jose and Calgary left things on after their last meeting.
“We definitely wanted to answer the bell physically, but I thought we stayed focused and got the job done,” Kane told the press, explaining the goal was to get the points in the standings over having a brawl. “Those points are so valuable. It’s a four-point game against a team we’re chasing.”
It definitely has to give the Sharks an extra boost of confidence looking at their wins against both the Flames on Thursday and the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday evening. Through two wins against tough teams, they’ve gotten contributions from up and down the lineup.
“We’re so deep,” Thornton said. “It’s just a different line every night and that’s the luxury of being a deep team. Last game it was Pav, this game it was Kaner, next game it’s going to be Logan. That’s just the way it works around here.”