Joe Thornton’s milestone was the most notable occurrence in the Sharks’ 3-2 win in Winnipeg on Monday, but let’s dig a little deeper. Here are our three takeaways from the San Jose’s performance…
1 – Gutsy effort against a hot team
Although the Jets aren’t in playoff position, this was a team that was surging ahead of hosting the Sharks on Monday. Not only had Winnipeg collected points in seven of its last eight games, the Jets had scored at least three goals in all eight. Had this club gotten even average goaltending this season it would probably be in an entirely different position.
Winnipeg was also more rested. The Jets haven’t had to play a road game since February 21, while the Sharks were skating in their second of a back-to-back on the road, with travel. That early predictable push from the Jets did come, but the Sharks held them off.
“Winnipeg didn’t give us a choice but to compete tonight,” Pete DeBoer told reporters after the game. “They came out and were ready to play, and had a desperation level to their game. We had no choice but to get our nose in there and compete, and to our credit our guys did.”
Had the Sharks lost against the Jets, they would have been riding a two-game losing streak ahead of a very difficult matchup with the league-leading Capitals on Thursday. But good teams don’t typically have losing streaks this time of year, and the Sharks responded with a gutsy effort in maintaining a healthy seven-point lead in the Pacific Division.
“We really didn’t like the way we played [Sunday night in Minnesota],” Thornton said. “We wanted to come out and kind of redeem ourselves tonight, and I think we did a good job of that.”
2 – Dell preserves it
The Jets made a late push, too, but Aaron Dell was up to the task. The Sharks goalie made a pair a brilliant stop on the dangerous Patrik Laine’s one-timer with time winding down, and moments later tracked a Dustin Byfuglien slapper from high in the zone, swallowing it up and not allowing a rebound.
That’s what the Sharks have come to expect from Dell, who should continue to play more over the next several weeks.
“Every time people wait for him to stumble and fall, he finds a way to win another game,” DeBoer said. “I thought the third period tonight was his best, he really settled in and made a couple big saves for us.”
Dell’s next start will likely be on Sunday at home against Dallas, when the Sharks play the second of a back-to-back and third game in four days.
3 – Boedker coming on
Perhaps free agent addition Mikkel Boedker is finally starting to find his groove. The 26-year-old scored the biggest goal of the night, a tiebreaking, shorthanded marker in the third period that gave the Sharks the lead for good.
“Huge goal by Bods shorthanded,” Thornton said.
DeBoer said: “The only difference in the game was we scored on our chance in the third, and Deller made a big save on theirs.”
Boedker now has three goals in his last five games, after he was benched for the third period of the final game before the bye week on Feb. 19. Perhaps he’ll get a boost by the impending arrival of his friend Jannik Hansen, too. He surely doesn’t want to get pushed down the lineup by his longtime mate.