The highly anticipated rematch between the Sharks and the Flames wasn’t the fight-fest most people believed it would be. But it was an exciting, fast-paced fête, with edge-of-your-seat entertainment right up until the final buzzer.
San Jose allowed the opposition to score the opening goal early in the game. But the team buckled down and battled back, ending a raucous 60-minute battle with a 5-2 win Thursday night in Calgary.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' fourth consecutive victory:
They got revenge on the scoreboard
This game was circled on many people’s calendars after the teams last met on New Year’s Eve and things got ugly in the last few minutes when Sam Bennett hit Radim Simek. (We’ll get to that in just a second.) But instead of opening up the contest throwing their gloves onto the ice, the Sharks kept their game tight and chased Flames goalie David Rittich from the game.
Evander Kane -- whom fans and talking heads alike thought would be throwing haymakers -- led the offensive charge by scoring San Jose’s first and fourth goals on the evening. His line with Tomas Hertl -- who scored two goals himself -- and Joonas Donskoi caught fire like it had before the bye week, matching Calgary’s speed and tenacity to a T.
Martin Jones came up big
Yes, it was concerning for the Sharks at the start of the game when the Flames scored their first goal less than five minutes into the contest. After that, though, Martin Jones settled in and came up big for San Jose. The Flames didn’t let up after the Sharks increased their lead, and Jones had to stand on his head a couple times to keep them from finding the back of the net.
Jones had two saves on Johnny Gaudreau that easily were his best of the evening, if not two of the best of his whole 2018-19 campaign. In the second period, Gaudreau was lightning fast as he tried to bury a wraparound attempt, but Jones outstretched his right skate to stop the puck with his toe. Then, on a huge penalty kill in the third frame, Gaudreau fanned on a shot and Jones narrowly stopped a power-play goal. Speaking of which …
The penalty kill was on full display
Nevermind the one power-play goal Calgary got in the second period. San Jose’s penalty kill has gradually gotten better since the team came back from the All-Star break, looking more like the dominant product it was at the start of the season. Since the Sharks got into their fair share of penalty trouble Thursday, the kill got plenty of work in, and it didn’t disappoint.
One player who was particularly noticeable on the Sharks’ big kill in the third period was Simek. The defenseman had a strong game in his return to Calgary after being hit by Bennett on Dec. 31. In addition to tallying an assist in the first period and creating the play deep in the defensive zone that resulted in Kane’s second goal, Simek was a big help to Jones keeping the puck out of the crease.