When the Sharks were struggling a few weeks back, forward Logan Couture was critical of how his team was playing.
After Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, though, he admitted San Jose's game was coming around.
“We’re playing the right way now,” Couture said. “There’s less cheating.”
The Sharks remained level-headed at United Center despite falling into a 2-0 hole early Sunday, relying on a detailed defensive game that, in turn, led to goals coming from all over the lineup. There’s no denying it -- dismiss San Jose’s first period and focus on the last 40 minutes, and you’ll see the way this team wants to play night in and night out.
“That [game] is one that could’ve gone off the rails pretty easy,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought we had a lot of composure on the bench. I thought the guys -- there was a confidence to it. There wasn’t a panic to it, even when we were down.”
Instead of panicking, San Jose instead tightened up defensively. The defensemen have been on an upward swing lately, but the blue line wasn't alone Sunday. The Sharks' collective defensive game turned the tide of the contest, after they started forcing turnovers in the neutral zone.
“Defensively, we’ve played some really strong hockey,” Couture said. “When we do that -- it may be hard to realize, but it always leads to offense. You’re always going to score more goals when you’re defending well.”
And boy, did San Jose's offense come alive.
All but five Sharks skaters notched a point in the win, and the power play was a perfect 2-for-2. More impressive, still, was where that offense came from.
San Jose’s fourth line was particularly noticeable, even notching the team’s first goal of the evening. All in all, it showed the Sharks were the more aggressive and assertive team -- no matter which line was on the ice.
DeBoer acknowledged his whole team is more confident now that it has won four in a row.
“Our team game’s more solid,” he said. “Our attention to detail, I think everywhere on the ice, has been better. That usually leads to good things.”
Good things as in more wins, perhaps?
The Sharks have quite the task ahead of them with the Minnesota Wild and red-hot Winnipeg Jets coming up next on the schedule. If the Sharks keep playing like they did when they rallied against the Blackhawks, however, there should be good things in their future.
“I think we feel good about our game and where we’re at right now,” DeBoer said. “And we just want to keep that going.”