SAN JOSE – If you were to simply check the score of Saturday’s game between the Sharks and the Ottawa Senators, you might have thought San Jose had completely outplayed the visiting team en route to notching a 4-1 victory, the team's sixth win in a row.
If you watched the actual game, however, you knew the Sharks dug down deep to make that win happen.
Saturday’s game came at the end of a long week, jam-packed with visiting family members, monumental ceremonies, and emotional contests. After playing five games in eight days, San Jose was understandably a bit gassed.
“It was a tough scheduled game for us,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer admitted on Saturday. “[Ottawa] played hard. They played with a lot of structure. They make it hard to get through the neutral zone. So this was a game where we really had to gut it out a little bit.”
San Jose kicked off the week with back-to-back contests against division foes in the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers, before traveling to Las Vegas to try to beat the Golden Knights on the road for the first time during the regular season.
On top of that, the players’ dads were in town this week. Plus, the Sharks tallied the franchise’s 1,000th win on Thursday, which also happened to be on Martin Jones’ birthday. Then came the return of former Sharks Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Mikkel Boedker, and Rudolfs Balcers with the Senators – a.k.a Erik Karlsson’s former team.
Top it all off with a big pregame ceremony to commemorate Brent Burns’ 1,000 career NHL game, and everything caught up to the Sharks by puck drop on Saturday. It took a little time for them to get their game established.
“That first period was pretty tough,” Burns acknowledged, before adding: “I think everybody came together and we got better as the game went on.”
He was right. After a six-shot first period, San Jose was able to pick up a little momentum. Once captain Joe Pavelski opened up scoring towards the end of the second stanza, the Sharks had a foundation they could build off of.
“Definitely took us a little bit to get going and sometimes that’s the case,” Pavelski said. “We’ve had five games in eight days here against some good teams and had some emotional wins and everything that goes along with it. It’s good to get the lead and be able to play with that.”
Keeping that lead meant keeping Ottawa off the scoreboard. That’s where Jones came in, carrying over momentum from his win in Vegas and only surrendering one goal to the Senators.
“I think he was dialed in and he made a bunch of saves to make sure we got to play out in front, which was critical tonight,” DeBoer said. “That was a game where the first goal was going to be really important for whoever got it.”
Now with the long week over, the Sharks will get a much-deserved day off. Then they’ll get right back at it and prepare to preserve their current winning streak against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. That’s a team the Sharks will certainly want to be rested and ready for.