SAN JOSE -- At times, it wasn’t the prettiest game. At times, it wasn’t even the most entertaining game. But after a slow start, the Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes took it all the way down to the wire in their season-series finale at SAP Center.
In the end, it was Brent Burns with a wicked back-hand shot that gave the Sharks a 3-2 victory in overtime.
Here are three takeaways from the first game after the All-Star break:
The response after falling behind
Giving up the first goal woke up the Sharks in the second period. Neither team was giving each other a lot of room to play, and the Coyotes’ defense was especially savvy at tying the Sharks' sticks up so they couldn’t capitalize on any rebounds. You also really have to give Arizona netminder Darcy Kuemper some credit for denying a couple of good San Jose looks.
But after Connor Garland put the Coyotes up 1-0 in the second, the Sharks appeared to get an extra spark. They scored the next two goals, both on rebound opportunities, less than a minute apart.
It wasn’t the cleanest game ever played
With both teams coming off otheir bye weeks, it was kind of expected that Saturday’s contest wasn’t going to be the cleanest game ever played. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said as much at practice earlier that day.
“Less is more in these types of games,” he summarized. “You want to keep it simple, you want to keep it direct.”
Doing so helped the Sharks keep the Coyotes off the board for a little over half the game. But a misstep by Tim Heed in the second stanza led to a turnover and Arizona’s first goal on the evening. Plus, San Jose made a few extra trips to the penalty box, which gave the Desert Dogs a couple of extra chances to find the back of the net.
Vlasic looked strong in his return
Don’t let the minus-1 on the scoresheet fool you. For a player who missed almost a month of play, Marc-Edouard Vlasic looked like he was the “excited” and “refreshed” skater DeBoer said the defenseman was earlier in the day.
Vlasic's performance certainly was a positive sign that he can build off down the stretch. The depth of San Jose’s blue line continues to be tested with Erik Karlsson still sidelined and Brent Burns eating up the bulk of the minutes on the ice. Having Vlasic back healthy and on an upward trend could benefit the Sharks in the long run.