The Sharks and the second period haven’t mixed well in 2021.
Entering play on Monday against the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose was outscored 21-7 in second periods. But the Sharks put together their best middle stanza of the season in the 3-2 win over their division rivals from SoCal.
“I didn’t like our start. We didn’t come out with enough juice there in the first few minutes,” coach Bob Boughner said in his postgame video conference with reporters. “But I really like how we responded and came back and had a good second period which hasn’t been so kind to us so far this season. I like that we didn’t really change the way we played at 3-1. We kept going after ‘em.”
After John Leonard evened the score with his first career goal, the Sharks controlled the rest of the game. Kevin Labanc ended his 10-game goal drought that dated back to Jan. 18, ricocheting the puck off Ducks goalie John Gibson into the net with 15:12 left in the second.
“I’ve been coming to work every day, I’ve been working hard,” Labanc said. “Just playing a simple game, chipping it in and getting on the forecheck, turning the puck over offensively. You just gotta keep doing that. You can’t let your emotions get the best of you. You got to learn to stay calm under pressure.”
Labanc, 25, admitted he’s feeling some added pressure since signing a four-year, $18.9 million contract this offseason.
“You definitely feel that obligation to produce,” Labanc said. “You’re definitely obligated to come every day to the rink, work hard and make sure that you bring something to the table because you’re one of those higher paid guys. At the end of the day, it’s a team game. We need everyone contributing. Tonight, all four lines were rolling and we came out with a big two points here.”
Both of the second-period goals were generated by the line featuring Labanc, Logan Couture and Evander Kane. It marked the first time the Sharks outscored their opponents by at least two goals in the second period.
Boughner said the top line has been putting in great work in recent games, especially Labanc.
“He’s causing a lot of turnovers and he’s hustling away from the puck, which is important,” Boughner said. “He’s working on his defensive game. He’s helped create chances for that line and [Couture] has been a benefactor of that. I’ve liked [Labanc’s] game but I want him to produce, of course. Tonight, for him to produce, that was a huge goal he scored.”