Sharks

Sharks feel they're rounding into shape with three-game winning streak

Sharks feel they're rounding into shape with three-game winning streak

SAN JOSE - For the first time in a long time, the Sharks looked like, well, the Sharks.

You know, the team fans had become accustomed to watching over the last several seasons. The team that can go up against a tough Western Conference opponent and put on a show. The team that has, also, been pretty absent for the majority of the current season.

San Jose didn't just tally their third straight win on Saturday against the Nashville Predators. They defeated a really good team by playing solid 60-plus minutes of hockey. And in the end, they were rewarded with a 2-1 shootout victory -- a victory they can feel proud of. 

"I think this is the first game where, right from the start, that no matter what the score was, we felt like we were playing our game and we weren't too worried about what they were doing," Erik Karlsson said after the win. "It feels like we're finally starting to look like the team we're supposed to be."

Despite winning their previous contest 6-5, the Sharks were not happy with their overall effort. Going up on a team 4-0 in the first period and then getting outscored 5-2 for the rest of the game isn't going to make any team happy. So while San Jose didn't score as many goals on Saturday against Nashville, they were significantly happier with their 60-minute effort. And when the Predators tallied the first goal of the night during the second period, the Sharks kept grinding until Tomas Hertl buried the equalizer in the third frame.

"One of the better efforts from our group," captain Logan Couture observed. "They had a few chances, but I thought we had better looks. We stuck with it and got that goal to tie it up, which was big."

Hertl himself agreed. "I'm really happy about our team tonight because all 60 minutes were great," he said. "It was the best game of the season, against a really good team."

That's the real kicker there -- that the Sharks beat a good team. Sure, they had a two-game winning streak going into Saturday's contest. But those were wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild, two clubs who have been struggling just as the Sharks have. 

To beat a playoff contender like Nashville is what San Jose needed to boost their confidence.

"We needed to beat a good team like this," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "We knew it would be a good test. We've put together some good spurts of hockey here over the last week. I like some of the things we've been doing but we haven't been doing it enough. We haven't done it against a team like that this year. There were a lot of good signs. Hopefully, we can turn the corner here."

Which is, of course, the next step. The Sharks close out their current homestand against the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and still have a ways to go before they get to .500 hockey for the first time this season. San Jose's best bet is to keep playing exactly as they did on Saturday against the Predators.

[RELATED: What we learned from Sharks' shootout win vs. Predators]

"We have to, every night, play like that because we need the points right now," Hertl said. "But It was a really great effort. I think we deserve the two points tonight. We have to just keep going."

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Hurricanes poke fun at Petr Mrazek after fighting Sharks' Joe Thornton

Thursday night’s matchup between the Sharks and the Carolina Hurricanes featured quite a ruckus, which began when Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek slashed Sharks veteran Joe Thornton after a play, prompting Thornton to put Mrazek on his back with a vicious forearm shiver.

During Friday morning’s practice, the Hurricanes decided to have some fun with their goalie by drawing an outline of where their net-minder gracefully hit the ice.

Mrazek remained on his back for several minutes after the blow but remained in the game.

[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' shootout loss vs. Hurricanes]

The Sharks and Thornton may have won the fight, but the Hurricanes won the game 3-2 in a wild shootout.

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

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USATSI

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

There was no shortage of electricity in Thursday night's rumble between the Sharks and Hurricanes, which San Jose got a point out of after falling 3-2 in the shootout

But the game really went on the verge of exploding when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek went after Joe Thornton -- which unleashed some next-level fury that Sharks fans on social media like to refer to as "Angry Joe."

"Jumbo plays hard, and the goalie went after him," Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "So, I don't know if the goalie expected to get pushed like he did, but if you're going to go at someone you're probably going to get pushed."

Thornton went to give the puck a nudge as he skated by Carolina's net, realizing a bit late that Mrazek already had frozen it. But it was enough to irk the Canes' netminder, who then attempted to violently slash Thornton and subsequently stood up out of the crease as if to square off with the future Hall of Famer. 

Thornton responded with a half-push, half-punch to Mrazek's face, sending the goalie toppling over backward to the ice. Mrazek remained there as a scrum ensued behind Carolina's net. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

"I think it definitely gets your group emotionally engaged in the game when you have a goalie swinging a stick at a guy like, but, as you saw, Joe can take care of himself," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer chuckled. 

Even after Thornton was ushered over to the penalty box to serve two minor penalties, Mrazek was slow to get up off of the ice. The long delay in play left some wondering if Mrazek had a concussion, but he stayed in the game. 

This, of course, raised a couple of mid-game questions. Should Mrazek have come out of the game and gone straight into the league's concussion protocol? Was it actually the fall and not Thornton's force that caused him to labor on the ice for so long? Or, was Mrazek waiting things out so Thornton would receive more discipline?

Sharks goalie Aaron Dell offered up his two cents after the game. "He either got hit really hard and should have gone into concussion protocol or he flopped a bit, but I guess that's the ref's call," Dell said with a shrug.

Mrazek didn't offer up much to the media after the game, calling it a "cheap shot" by Thornton before saying he has suffered hits "worse than those, so it's not bad." So, perhaps we'll never know the real story.

While there is a lot of attention on his tiff with Mrazek, Thornton also deserves credit for playing an incredible game. He led the third line along with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc to one of its most impactful games so far this season, and set up Sorensen for San Jose's first goal on the evening. With the Sharks' road trip continuing with a back-to-back this weekend against the Floridian teams, getting that kind of bottom-six contribution is vital.

"He's playing well," Couture said of Thornton. "We need [the third line]. Can't win with only the top six scoring. Some nights you need the bottom six to score, and I think that line's looked really good."