SAN JOSE – Now that the NHL trade deadline has passed, the Sharks know that the players currently in the organization are the ones that they’re going to go to battle with potentially for the next three months. Contributions will be necessary from up and down the lineup if the season is to be extended that long.
On Thursday against the Canucks, Logan Couture led the way with a goal and an assist, centering the Sharks’ most effective line with Mikkel Boedker and Patrick Marleau. But its was rookie Marcus Sorensen that provided the game-winning score, his first career goal in the NHL, while goalie Aaron Dell continued to give the club reliable backup goaltending in a 3-1 win.
“There are times in different games where we need different ingredients, and I think with the group of 23-to-25 guys that we have, we’re looking pretty good,” Couture said.
Sorensen, whose development is part of the reason Nikolay Goldobin was shipped to the Canucks for Jannik Hansen, had a dazzling shift in the second period that eventually resulted in his score. He twirled around in the offensive zone, pushed the puck to linemate Joel Ward, got to the front of the net, and played a Tomas Hertl pass off of his skate before slithering it through at 9:28.
That put the Sharks up to stay, 2-1, before Couture added another goal four-and-a-half minutes later.
“It was a great shift by our line,” Sorensen said. “We were cycling, and I was trying to [crash] the net.”
Sorensen made the most of his chance on the third line, which is where Pete DeBoer put him after he impressed the coach on Tuesday against Toronto.
"He had another strong game for us. He did a lot of good stuff,” DeBoer said. “Glad he got rewarded with the goal. He deserved it. He's making a case to stick around."
Dell didn’t have an overly taxing night, seeing just 18 shots and allowing only Bo Horvat’s redirection in front of the crease on the power play to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. There were certainly no indications that the organization erred in keeping the 27-year-old around as the backup to Martin Jones, when it was thought that the Sharks might be looking for a more experienced option.
The goaltender, who was starting for just the second time in a non back-to-back situation, figures to get more playing time over the final 19 games than he’s seen so far. He’s pumped for that prospect.
“It's always exciting to get to play a few more games. I kind of prepared for that throughout the year,” Dell said. “[James Reimer] came in last year and gave Jonesy the rest he needed, so hopefully I can do that."
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the win for San Jose is that Sharks played a strong defensive game despite being down one injured defenseman in David Schlemko after the first period. Since the bye week ended the Sharks have allowed just three goals in three games, all wins, including two against Vancouver.
There wasn’t much of an update on Schlemko after the game, although partner Brenden Dillon said it didn’t look like “anything too crazy” after Schlemko tested out whatever was bothering him when the teams came out to start the second before deciding he couldn’t continue.
"He tried it, which is a good sign,” DeBoer said. “He had the ability to get out there and thought he might be able to come back. He didn't obviously, so we'll see how he is tomorrow."
Even if Schlemko can’t go on Sunday at Minnesota, the Sharks have to be confident that someone else can take his spot. The club has gotten contributions from all over the place this season, including on Thursday.
“We’re deep,” Couture said. “That’s all you ask for going into the end of the year and a playoff run. You need a lot of guys to step up.”