The Sharks are riding their first three-game winning streak since before Thanksgiving, and Evander Kane is a major reason why.
In Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils, he had the primary assist on Logan Couture's game-winning goal.
In Saturday's 5-0 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kane got the scoring barrage started with the game's opening goal.
Then, in Tuesday's impressive 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, he opened the scoring once again, and added an insurance marker in the third period for good measure.
The standings might not reflect it, but as Kane and San Jose have proven over the first three games of its current undefeated homestand, it would be unwise to overlook the Sharks on the schedule.
"We obviously haven't had the type of success we wanted this year for whatever reason, but you look at us on paper, even with some of the guys we have out of our lineup, we're a pretty darn good team," Kane said after the win over Toronto. "On paper. We've just got to put it together. We've had a lot of success over the years here, and we just want to finish the year off on a strong note and put a little reminder out that we're still the San Jose Sharks and we're going to be tough to beat every night."
Outside of an awful first period against the Devils, the Sharks have lived up to Kane's words. They've outscored their opponents 13-4 over the last three games, and scored nine unanswered goals stretching from the second period of the win over New Jersey through the first period of Tuesday's victory.
While the lowly Devils aren't a playoff team, both the Penguins and Maple Leafs are very likely to qualify for the postseason and would have to be considered two of the more talented teams in the league. Despite missing several key players, San Jose has taken each of their best punches, and then delivered significant blows to both.
"I think we've kind of made up our minds as a group, as players, that we want to -- I said it the other game -- ruin some seasons for some teams and be as destructive as we possibly can down the stretch," Kane explained.
The Sharks don't have a playoff berth to realistically fight for, but they don't lack for motivation. From a team perspective, in addition to playing the role of spoiler, San Jose has 16 more regular-season games with which to generate momentum for next season. And there are individual motivations, too. Some players are trying to prove they belong at the NHL level, while others, like goaltender Martin Jones, are hoping to more permanently establish themselves in the lineup.
Jones, who has started all three wins on the homestand, appears to be finding a groove and is currently playing as well as he has all season.
"When he's on the top of his game like he has been these last three, we're a real hard team to beat," Kane said of Jones. "We're going to make mistakes, and when he can bail us out, and when we can give him some run support, too -- which we haven't done a good job of this year -- we're a top team in the league. We just haven't shown it this year consistently enough."
Indeed, it's quite likely too little, too late for San Jose. The combination of injuries to key players and sheer bad luck created a hole that the team doesn't appear to have enough remaining time to dig out of. Too often this season did San Jose not look anything like the Sharks we're used to.
Lately, though, they're remembering who they are.