There was no time to worry about the loss to the Dallas Stars the previous night. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer through the lines in the blender, and sent out his back-up goaltender as Sharks visited Arizona for their first meeting of the season with the Coyotes.
After San Jose jumped out to an early lead, the Desert Dogs came roaring back to tie the game up in the third period and make things interesting. In the end, though, it was Sharks rookie winger Lukas Radil who pulled his team out of danger and scored the game-winning goal in San Jose's 5-3 win.
Here are three takeaways from the Saturday night contest:
The fourth line is starting to click
Something happened to the fourth line after Kevin Labanc was placed there last week against the Carolina Hurricanes. For the better part of the season, the line couldn’t find good chemistry – perhaps, in part, because the lines have been shuffled so much.
But over the last couple of games, the bottom line really started to come alive, with both Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson creating more offense.
Although setup extraordinaire Labanc was moved up to the third line on Joe Thornton’s wing, the line continued to thrive with Lukas Radil back in the lineup. Even before the big Czech forward the back of the net until the third period of, he made two quality attempts in the first and second periods. Radil’s level of physicality was a perfect addition to the Sharks’ bottom six, who continued to grind and create chances.
Building on that first goal is key
Getting the first goal in a game should be a good sign a team is on the path to a victory. But as the Sharks demonstrated against the Stars on Friday night, getting that first goal isn’t quite enough. Building on that opening tally is what helps push the team the extra mile.
San Jose did just that on Saturday night against Arizona. After Joe Pavelski’s redirect at 14:36 in the first period, the team continued to push. The reunited line of Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl converted on their next shift when Couture found a way around six-foot-six netminder Adin Hill to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead.
That being said ….
Second-period response is still an issue
As everyone knows at this point, the Sharks have a problem with following up a strong first period with an equally strong second. It looked at first as though San Jose would break that pattern when Evander Kane found the back of the net in the second stanza to give the Sharks a three-goal advantage.
Then, Arizona came roaring back to notch two quick goals to cut the deficit down to one.
San Jose got hyped after that second goal though, fueled by a heated exchange between Joe Pavelski and Coyotes winger Richard Panik. They really began to grind and gain momentum as the frame expired.
Unfortunately, Panik was also the player who notched the tying goal in the third period when the Sharks broke down. But, Radil was there to bail them out with his first NHL goal.