SAN JOSE – In arguably their most complete performance of the season, the Sharks kicked off their lengthy homestand with an impressive 4-2 win over Washington. There wasn’t a whole lot not to like from San Jose’s perspective in this one. Let’s get to the three takeaways…
1 – Hansen gives top line instant energy
Perhaps it was due to him playing just his second game in the last 18 days, but Jannik Hansen had some pep to his step in showcasing every facet of his game that made him a target at the trade deadline. He was light on his skates, tenacious, aggressive and effective in 16-and-a-half minutes of ice time.
He’s exactly the kind of player that Pete DeBoer has been searching all season to skate with the two Joes – and remain there for the long term.
"I loved him,” Pete DeBoer said. “I like that he came as advertised – energy, speed, he's going to really help our penalty kill. I thought he fit in real good with Joe and Joe. He plays a man's game out there. He's really going to help."
Hansen, who had previously spent time on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin in Vancouver, said: “Not to compare them to the twins, but they do a lot of the finesse and work with the puck, and you find open space or get in front of the net and the puck comes there."
Hansen nearly got his first goal with time winding down, but his attempt at an empty net glanced off of the iron. He figures that first goal will come in short order, though.
"We were joking I shouldn't be getting my first one in an empty net,” Hansen said. “I obviously would have liked to have gotten that one out of the way, but playing here you should get plenty of opportunities, so I'm not too worried about that."
2 – Burns climbs in the scoring race
Despite some early questionable decisions in the defensive zone – something that’s probably been a bit too common in Burns’ game in recent days – the defenseman was a beast on the resurgent power play, registering both primary assists on goals by Logan Couture to go with his earlier primary assist on Joe Pavelski’s redirection.
Burns’ third helper was particularly impressive, as he squarely hit Couture’s stick blade in the third period with a low liner to give the Sharks an important insurance marker.
“Not too many guys can make that pass back door like that. He put it right on my tape,” Couture said. “It was nice to see it go in."
Celebrating his 32nd birthday on Thursday, Burns finds himself on Friday morning back up to being tied for second in the NHL (with four others) with 70 points, four behind Connor McDavid. It was his first three-point game since Jan. 23 at Colorado.
3 – That was a heck of a hockey game
No other way to put it, really – the Sharks and Capitals played a wildly entertaining game that featured a little bit of everything. There were some thunderous checks and highlight reel offensive plays, and both teams looked energized for the battle of the first-placers after having not played since Monday.
"Good game. Two good teams going at it,” DeBoer said.
Could be a heck of a Stanley Cup Final matchup too, right?
"I don't know. That's so far down the road,” DeBoer said. “It's always nice when you play the best team in the league and do well. It gives you some confidence. You feel good, but every series is different and every team is different. We got a long road ahead of us before we see anybody like that from the other conference."
On another note, the game was yet another example of why the NHL’s condensed schedule has hurt the product at different times this season – and probably why the NHL seems increasingly likely to skip next year’s Olympics. Rested teams equates to better hockey, plain and simple.