Coming off a disappointing homestand, the Sharks will be feeling much better about themselves after earning a well-deserved 3-1 road win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.
San Jose gave up the first goal of game, but kept Calgary off the scoresheet for the rest of the night.
Brent Burns pulled San Jose even minutes after the Flames took the lead, and Evander Kane scored shortly thereafter to put the Sharks in front for good. Joe Thornton totaled two assists on the evening, giving him 1,500 points in his career (14th-most in NHL history), while goaltender Aaron Dell was solid in net once again, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' first road victory since Jan. 4:
Much better road performance
San Jose entered Tuesday's game tied for the third-fewest road wins in the NHL. While it's not as if the Sharks have been a dominant team at home, they've performed far better at SAP Center this season than away from it.
Tuesday night against the Flames was a different story.
It didn't start all that well. The Sharks had a shaky first period, and fell behind less than a minute into the second. The middle frame has been San Jose's best by a wide margin throughout a lackluster season, and the team lived up to that once again, as Thornton found Burns streaking into the offensive zone, who blasted a puck past Calgary goaltender David Rittich to even the score.
Minutes later, Barclay Goodrow made a great pass to Kane from behind the Flames' net, and San Jose had its first lead in a road game since Jan. 5.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the third period, and then added to it. While the Flames had the occasional scoring chance, San Jose did a much better job of keeping its foot on the gas than it had in some recent heartbreaking losses.
The 'banc was open
When the Sharks needed some insurance, Kevin Labanc was there to provide it.
Less than eight minutes into the third period, Labanc picked up the puck off the sideboards in the offensive zone and drove straight at Calgary's net. After some deft stickwork, he roofed a backhander into the top left corner, providing San Jose the all-important two-goal advantage with his 12th of the year.
It wasn't the first time he dangled to create a scoring chance, either, as he similarly did so in the second period, but failed to find the back of the net.
LABANC 🤑 pic.twitter.com/rW3oEyXUKR— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) February 5, 2020
With Tomas Hertl done for the season and Logan Couture expected to be out for several more weeks, San Jose needs its offensively-skilled players to step up. Labanc did so against the Flames, and the Sharks will need more of that moving forward.
Sigh of relief
The Sharks' two best forwards already have sustained serious injuries. Joel Kellman recently was placed on injured reserve for a similar reason. The last thing San Jose needs is more of its future being put in jeopardy. So when rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro went up the tunnel to the dressing room after a big hit from Calgary's Milan Lucic in the third period, it was easy to think the worst.
Luckily, it appears Ferraro avoided it.
He remained in the tunnel for a few minutes, but soon returned to the ice and put together a few more shifts in the final period while helping to keep the Flames off the scoreboard. Ferraro has been one of the few bright spots for San Jose this season, and certainly appears to be a major part of the team's future -- assuming he can stay healthy.