SAN JOSE — Scoring your first goal of the season certainly is cause for celebration. Maybe even some extra-exuberant cheering and shouting.
After defenseman Erik Karlsson scored his first goal as a Shark in their 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, there were rumors he’d let some choice language fly.
“I don’t know if I said it in Swedish or English,” he jokingly told the media after the game at SAP Center. “If I said it in English, unfortunately it might be out there. If not, then you’re going to have to play the guessing game.”
Not that anyone could blame him for using some colorful verbiage. The pressure on the Swedish defenseman has been incredibly high since he arrived in San Jose at the start of training camp in September.
While he’s been contributing to the team on the back end during the Sharks' six-game homestand, Karlsson’s continued lack of goal production had his critics whipped into a frenzy.
Finally notching that elusive goal helped put his entire body of work thus far into perspective.
“He’s been playing some really good hockey, and he’s been really solid for us lately,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.
“It’s nice to see one go in here for him tonight,” forward Joe Pavelski complimented. “He wants to contribute. He has, in a lot of ways, just maybe not in the goal department.”
Karlsson has been pitching in as a helper on San Jose’s goals over the homestand, including in the second period of Saturday’s game when he set up Evander Kane’s tally to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. He’s now riding a three-game assist streak with five points (one goal, four assists) in his last three games.
“I’ve been feeling good all year. It just hasn’t worked out on the score sheet,” Karlsson said. “But sometimes, that’s the way it is.”
The defenseman admitted he felt a sense of relief after he notched that first goal on the season, but he also emphasized he’s more concerned with how it helped the Sharks get a bounce-back victory over the Blues.
“I think the win was extra good after the game against (the Toronto Maple Leafs),” Karlsson said. “I don’t think we played well there. To have this game tonight was important for us, and it shows character in the room.”
Now with that first goal out of the way, Karlsson’s critics perhaps can leave him to focus on helping his team win more games.
“I’m not here to play an individual game,” he summarized. “It’s nice to finally get one in the back of the net. But at the end of the day, this is a great win.”