The Sharks are red hot after beating the New York Islanders 2-1 in overtime Thursday night at UBS Arena.
Winners of three straight road games and five of their last six, San Jose has improved to 13-9-1 on the season, good for fifth in the Western Conference.
The Sharks carried a 1-1 tie into overtime where Erik Karlsson scored to seal the win.
In the first period, Sharks centerman Nick Bonino scored a goal right as San Jose's power play ended. It didn't count for a power-play goal, but coach Bob Boughner made note of the team's improved scoring when on the advantage, something the Sharks struggled with at the beginning of the season.
“Our big guys who are putting the points up are our guys that we have to rely on every night," Boughner said postgame. "I think we put a lot of work into our power play … Our power play is stepping up at different times for us, which is nice.”
Bonino was held without a goal for most of the season until netting his first on Nov. 24 against Ottawa. Since then, he has scored two more goals and is relieved to finally be getting some bounces in his favor.
“I think scoring gives you confidence," Bonino said postgame. "I’ve come to the rink every night feeling good about my game, whether the puck goes in or not. I think I'm doing the right things in all three zones. But to get rewarded with some bounced and some puck luck -- for that pass to get through tonight instead of hit a shin guard and go out the other way is what I was waiting for. I think I said ‘thank you' four times, five times in the huddle with [Jonathan Dahlen] and Timo [Meier] because it was such a great play from them.”
During the road trip, the Sharks held a team meeting to discuss how they aim to put themselves in a good position prior to the short Christmas break at the end of the month.
“We talked about it before the road trip how we want to not stay around .500 anymore," goalie Adin Hill said postgame. "So tonight is a huge game. Instead of being two games above .500 with the loss, you get the win and the extra point and now we’re four. You see how tight the standings are, every point is huge right now.”
The Sharks have thrived on defense lately, and Thursday night's blocking helped balance out some offensive struggles during the middle portion of the game.
"Tonight I don’t know how many shots came from the blue line that actually got to our net," Hill added. "It shows what a good job our guys have done blocking shots, fronting. It’s commitment, everyone in that locker room is committed to playing a defensive game and we like to win these tight games.”
With 59 games remaining in the season, now is when NHL teams start to grind the most. The Sharks have dug deep and it'll take every last one of them pulling the same side of the rope if they hope to make a push towards the playoffs.
“I think this time of the year it’s a lot of grinding," Erik Karlsson told reporters postgame. "We’ve been traveling a lot, guys are not feeling the freshest probably at all times. We gotta do other things and I think everybody’s helping each other out and we’re battling for each other and we’re doing what we feel we have to do to give ourselves a chance to win at the end of games and today was a perfect example of that.
"We just stuck with it, weren’t getting frustrated and just kept putting the puck in and creating and taking what we got and we weren’t concerned how long it was going to take. We knew that by the end of the third we were going to have a chance to win the game and get it done in overtime.”