From an outside perspective, it didn't appear there could be much to be happy about after a disastrous meltdown from the Sharks in the third period of their eventual 5-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.
After entering the start of the final period with a 3-1 lead, San Jose surrendered a whopping four goals in a chaotic third stanza. The Vegas quartet of Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague, Ryan Reaves and Alec Martinez all scored over a span of just over eight minutes. Evander Kane was able to get one back for the Sharks, but it wasn't enough, and the Sharks sputtered, losing both games to their rival at T-Mobile Arena.
The wild third period featured five goals in total and two fights, one between Logan Couture and Jonathan Marchessault and the second with Tomas Hertl and Mark Stone.
However, it was Hertl's tussle with Stone that stood as coach Bob Boughner's biggest takeaway, as it served as Hertl's first career NHL fighting major.
After Stone laid out Timo Meier with a big hit, Hertl fired back with a vengeance, a response that thoroughly encouraged Boughner.
"That's great character," Boughner said to reporters during a postgame video conference. "Him being in a leadership group, taking care of any teammate, not just his lineman, those are important things that are team builders throughout the season. That's going to help, even though it stings tonight to lose.
"We've been working a lot on culture. ... These guys have a lot of care for each other, they're playing together, forming a brotherhood. I think that was the right thing to do at the right time."
After being upset by his team's lack of response against Vegas in January, the Sharks' response Wednesday signifies a turn in the team's character, at least according to Boughner and Hertl.
"I think so," Hertl said. "I think everybody's on the same boat."
"I like our last five games of hockey," he added. "If we play like that and play together like one team ... it'll be more fun."
While moral victories won't gain you points in the standings, the Sharks seemingly have shortened the gap between themselves and the Golden Knights. While the end result was far from ideal, Boughner will still chalk up the series as a step up the ladder.
"We played hard," he said. "We stuck up for each other. That's what I ask of this team, that's what I ask of these guys."