Marcus Sorensen

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in flu-riddled 5-2 win vs. Canadiens

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in flu-riddled 5-2 win vs. Canadiens

SAN JOSE – It was a dicey one in teal town when the Sharks hosted the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. But, the home team found a way keep Montreal’s losing streak at SAP Center alive, and prevailed with a 5-2 victory.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s contest: 

Down with the sickness

San Jose didn’t play its prettiest game against Montreal, and it's easy to understand why. As coach Peter DeBoer revealed to the press this week, the flu has gone around the dressing room and hit a couple players. Nevertheless, they took the ice on Thursday evening.

You really have to hand it to Brent Burns. The defenseman played his second game while trying to fight off the flu bug, and still recorded his 60th assist on the season. It's only the fourth time since the 1996-7 season an NHL defenseman has accomplished the feat.

Young guns carrying the weight

The Sharks have been pumping that “next man up” message all season in relation to injuries. On Thursday against the Habs, it was San Jose’s young players who picked up the flu-riddled team. 

25-year-old Tomas Hertl recorded his 30th goal on the season in the first period of Thursday’s game, eluding former teammate Antti Niemi with a wraparound attempt that went five-hole. 26-year-old Marcus Sorensen stayed hot, lighting the lamp in the first frame and tallying an assist on old-timer Joe Thornton’s goal in the second stanza. Then, in the third period, 26-year-old Joonas Donskoi set 22-year-old Timo Meier up with a sweet back-handed pass, and Meier's subsequent goal gave San Jose a 4-2 lead with 13:27 to go in regulation.

[RELATED: How DeBoer made two Sharks fans' day on team's day off]

The shot clock didn't dictate the game

A worrisome trend continued on Thursday, when the Sharks were heavily outshot by their opponents. While they were fortunate enough to find the net more times than the Canadiens did, they certainly didn’t make it very easy on themselves.

Goaltender Martin Jones deserves credit for making some big saves on the evening. While both goals he let in weren’t pretty, he buckled down in the final 40 minutes to keep the contest from getting completely out of hand while Montreal gained momentum and put nearly 40 shots on the clock.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in tough 5-2 win over Blackhawks

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in tough 5-2 win over Blackhawks

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Things were close between the Sharks and the Blackhawks in their second meeting of the season. But thanks to a boost from some tweaked line combinations and a big third period, San Jose emerged victorious, 5-2.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s game:

The line shuffle looked good

We’ve been talking since the trade deadline about Peter DeBoer’s abundance of options for shuffling up his forward lines ever since Gustav Nyquist was added to the lineup. We got the first gander at how much those combos could get shuffled on Sunday, and it looked pretty darn good.

The Sharks’ offense clearly got a boost after Nyquist was bumped up to the top line with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. Timo Meier was moved onto Tomas Hertl’s wing opposite Joonas Donskoi, and Kevin Labanc rejoined Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen on the third line.

Tim Heed made a statement

No. 72 has gotten ample playing time in the latter part of the season with his fellow countryman Erik Karlsson in and out of the lineup, and he’s been impressive on both ends of the ice to boot. Sunday he put on another strong performance, tallying two primary assists and doing incredible work keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

The bulk of the attention may always go to players like Karlsson and Brent Burns, but Heed has to be given recognition for filling into the lineup as of late. Sunday’s game against Chicago was a good example of what a valuable asset he's become to the team.

The penalty kill did its job

Chicago entered Sunday’s game with a red-hot power play, registering goals on the man advantage in 20 of their previous 27 games. So needless to say, San Jose needed to stay out of the penalty box. While the Sharks didn’t play a spotless game, their penalty kill did come up big when Chicago had the opportunity to swing the game in their favor.

Martin Jones deserves a lot of credit for his work on the kill as well. The Blackhawks outshot the Sharks for the majority of Sunday’s game and were visibly more confident when they went on the man advantage. Jones was able to shut the door on the bulk of their chances.

Marcus Sorensen keeps getting 'better and better' for Sharks with hard work

Marcus Sorensen keeps getting 'better and better' for Sharks with hard work

SAN JOSE – Apparently, having several stitches in your lip isn’t enough to keep a hockey player down. At least, that’s what Sharks winger Marcus Sorensen displayed on Friday night when he returned to the ice and put up a two-goal effort against the Avalanche.

Sorensen admitted to the press after that game, a 4-3 win, that sitting out a couple of games after taking a puck to the face wasn’t easy.

“It’s not fun watching,” he said. “It’s good to be back.”

But the Swede’s strong performance was no fluke, either. Through the Sharks 2018-19 campaign, Sorensen has consistently played a gritty game that has helped get San Jose results. Friday night was just another example of that. 

“He’s been good for us all year,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said Friday. “He plays a hard game. We’re happy for him, that he scored those goals.”

There’s no denying Sorensen has put the work in to get where he’s at in his 2018-19 campaign. After coming to San Jose in 2016, he’s bounced up and down between the Sharks and the AHL Barracuda, even seeing a little playoff time on the NHL club’s fourth line last season.

But it was a strong training camp this past September that really allowed him to cement his spot on the roster – and according to his coach, he’s been on an upward trend ever since. 

“He’s just gotten better and better,” Peter DeBoer said. “I think his development from coming over here and playing in the American League to getting on the fourth line a couple of years ago in the playoffs and playing an energy role.”

Of course, you can’t talk about Sorensen without talking about the player who has become his fixed linemate this season – veteran center Joe Thornton. After Thornton’s return to the lineup early in the season following some complications with his surgically repaired knee, DeBoer took the vet off the Pavelski-led top line and made him a third-line center with Sorensen on his wing.

The duo found chemistry almost instantly, with Sorensen even setting Thornton up for his 400th career NHL goal. That chemistry has continued throughout the season, in which Sorensen has posted 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) and  aplus-7 rating through 63 games.

“You can’t understate how important Joe Thornton has been to his development offensively,” DeBoer said. “He’s always talking to him about hanging on to pucks and making plays. When you get a guy like that who wants to play with you, that’s the golden ticket.”

[RELATED: Sharks give glimpse of playoff intensity in pivotal win over Avalanche]

Not surprisingly, though, Sorensen isn’t one to pat himself on the back, giving credit to the team around him – even when he has a two-goal game like he did on Friday.

“I play with good players, they make plays that make me better,” Sorensen said. “So it’s easy for me to go out there.”