Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 3-1 win over Flames

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's 3-1 win over Flames

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SAN JOSE -- Good play doesn't always carry over from one game to another. But after finishing strong and getting their first win of the season Thursday night, the Sharks hoped to build on that performance three days later when the Calgary Flames came to town.

Team Teal did just that, jumping out to an early lead and never giving it up, as they extinguished the Flames 3-1, tallying their second straight win of the season.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday's game at SAP Center.

Captain clutch

When Logan Couture's teammates described him during the preseason as a captain who would "lead by example," they really weren't kidding. No. 39 was one of the best players on the ice Sunday night -- not because he scored big goals but because he set them up and let his speed set the tone for the rest of the team.

San Jose's offense got two big jolts in the first 40 minutes, and both times it was from a goal that Couture set up. The second was most impressive, as he snagged the puck from Calgary forward Mikael Backland on a Sharks penalty kill and maneuvered up the ice to set up Tomas Hertl for San Jose's first short-handed goal of the season.

Jones stood tall

When San Jose's defense got a little loosey-goosey in the second period, goalie Martin Jones kept the Sharks in the game. Not only did Jones keep the Flames off the board during the first seven minutes of the opening period, but he also stopped a few breakaway attempts that could've erased San Jose's lead.

Needless, to say, Jones had his best outing of the season by far. With San Jose's defense still ironing out some kinks and cleaning up its 60-minute game, it was exactly the kind of confident performance this team needed.

The power of playing with the lead

It's pretty incredible how much momentum a team can get just from taking an early lead. Once Timo Meier found the back of the net and gave the Sharks their first first-period lead of the season, they had all the momentum in their favor for the rest of the frame.

The Sharks just need to make sure they don't let their defense regularly take its foot off the gas, as it did during Sunday's game. They might have had the benefit of getting a good performance out of Jones and playing against a tired Flames team, but that kind of play won't cut it against tougher teams. 

[RELATED: Sharks fans give Marleau standing ovation]

Getting into turnover trouble could doom them this coming week when the Eastern Conference-leading Carolina Hurricanes come to town.

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

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USATSI

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

There was no shortage of electricity in Thursday night's rumble between the Sharks and Hurricanes, which San Jose got a point out of after falling 3-2 in the shootout

But the game really went on the verge of exploding when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek went after Joe Thornton -- which unleashed some next-level fury that Sharks fans on social media like to refer to as "Angry Joe."

"Jumbo plays hard, and the goalie went after him," Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "So, I don't know if the goalie expected to get pushed like he did, but if you're going to go at someone you're probably going to get pushed."

Thornton went to give the puck a nudge as he skated by Carolina's net, realizing a bit late that Mrazek already had frozen it. But it was enough to irk the Canes' netminder, who then attempted to violently slash Thornton and subsequently stood up out of the crease as if to square off with the future Hall of Famer. 

Thornton responded with a half-push, half-punch to Mrazek's face, sending the goalie toppling over backward to the ice. Mrazek remained there as a scrum ensued behind Carolina's net. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

"I think it definitely gets your group emotionally engaged in the game when you have a goalie swinging a stick at a guy like, but, as you saw, Joe can take care of himself," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer chuckled. 

Even after Thornton was ushered over to the penalty box to serve two minor penalties, Mrazek was slow to get up off of the ice. The long delay in play left some wondering if Mrazek had a concussion, but he stayed in the game. 

This, of course, raised a couple of mid-game questions. Should Mrazek have come out of the game and gone straight into the league's concussion protocol? Was it actually the fall and not Thornton's force that caused him to labor on the ice for so long? Or, was Mrazek waiting things out so Thornton would receive more discipline?

Sharks goalie Aaron Dell offered up his two cents after the game. "He either got hit really hard and should have gone into concussion protocol or he flopped a bit, but I guess that's the ref's call," Dell said with a shrug.

Mrazek didn't offer up much to the media after the game, calling it a "cheap shot" by Thornton before saying he has suffered hits "worse than those, so it's not bad." So, perhaps we'll never know the real story.

While there is a lot of attention on his tiff with Mrazek, Thornton also deserves credit for playing an incredible game. He led the third line along with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc to one of its most impactful games so far this season, and set up Sorensen for San Jose's first goal on the evening. With the Sharks' road trip continuing with a back-to-back this weekend against the Floridian teams, getting that kind of bottom-six contribution is vital.

"He's playing well," Couture said of Thornton. "We need [the third line]. Can't win with only the top six scoring. Some nights you need the bottom six to score, and I think that line's looked really good."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 shootout loss vs. Hurricanes

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 shootout loss vs. Hurricanes

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There‚Äôs nothing like some fireworks to kick off a tough road trip.

The Sharks and Hurricanes might only see each other twice a season, but boy did things get heated between the two teams in their second and final meeting of the 2019-20 campaign Thursday night at PNC Arena. It was a fast-paced and entertaining matchup all the way through overtime. In the end, San Jose got only one point after Carolina prevailed 3-2 in the shootout, but there were a lot of good things that came out of this one.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday's exciting game:

Thornton ruffles some feathers

Joe Thornton has come up in conversation a bit lately, but mostly because he hasn't produced much over the first two months of the season. But Jumbo Joe has gotten back to what he does best -- setting up goals -- which he has done in three of the last five games. Against the Hurricanes, he looked like his vintage self, and even responded in kind when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek slashed him late in the second period. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

Thornton was the leader of the Sharks' third line Thursday, which was easily the team's best. His work setting up Marcus Sorensen for San Jose's first-period goal was especially impressive, as he displayed great patience in setting his young linemate up with Hurricanes skaters pressuring. Not only was the assist a beauty, but it also brought Thornton within four helpers of tying Adam Oates for seventh on the NHL's all-time list. 

Dell bounces back

Dell was coming off a couple of rough outings, but in his first start since Nov. 27, he put up a strong performance in Raleigh.

After giving up the first goal of the game within the opening minute, Dell really settled in and had a good handle on the Canes‚Äô offense. He was very strong at the start of the second period when Carolina came out with a ton of energy and generated plenty of grade-A chances. But perhaps his best came on a third-period penalty kill to keep the game tied up 2-2. 

Or maybe his saves in overtime were better. Really, he put some great tape together.

Karlsson keeps it going

The Sharks are paying Erik Karlsson to be one of their best players, and he was exactly that against the Hurricanes.

The defenseman has been heating up over the last couple of weeks, and on Thursday he looked downright elite. His work on both ends of the ice was superb, and he set up some of the Sharks' best plays of the game. His incredible work setting up Logan Couture's game-tying goal in the second period was the cherry on top of his highlight-reel performance.