Friday, December 8, 2017

Sharks Win a Wild, Weird Wonderful One over Hurricanes

That was not how you draw it up. But a win is a win is a win and the San Jose Sharks will take a 5-4 overtime victory which saw them outscored 4-0 at even strength by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at SAP Center.

Here are five thoughts from Thursday's madness:

1. Shorties supreme

The Sharks got a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson midway through the second period off a sweet feed by Chris Tierney. It was a massive goal because the Sharks had taken the play to Carolina for the first 10 minutes of the middle stanza with nothing to show for it. With the Canes on the PP and threatening to put the game away (surely a 4-0 lead would have ended this game for all intents and purposes?), Tierney took his time and made the perfect play on Karlsson's goal. Noah Hanifin did what he was supposed to do while defending San Jose's 2-on-1. He played the pass and left Tierney the option to shoot. But with no back pressure Tierney made a very composed decision to wait out Hanifin, and when he saw his moment he threaded a pass to Karlsson who had backed up considerably but was still in position to bury the one-timer into an open net.

Barclay Goodrow made it two shorthanded goals when he netted the equalizer in the third, bringing the remaining fans (where were ya Sharks fans?) to a frenzy. Goodrow made the smart decision to join the rush and he beat two Carolina defenders down the ice, took a flip pass from Jannik Hansen and deposited a breakaway goal past Cam Ward. Great effort by Goodrow, not known for his scoring, to sense the time and tempo of the play and go for it while shorthanded.

2. Jones Resilient in one of the Sharks worst defensive games

Let's be honest here. The Sharks were horrible defensively in this game. Sebastian Aho could have scored eight goals. Brent Burns was sloppy. Paul Martin was sloppy. Even Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sloppy at times. But the one constant, as it has been all season, was Martin Jones. He could have easily hung his head after giving up Carolina's fourth goal to Jeff Skinner at 14:44 of the second. But Jones never wavered and didn't let the Canes expand their lead. Jones finished the night with an .840 save percentage. By the numbers it was a horrible game for him, but in reality he got it done.

3. DeBoer's blender in effect

Marcus Sorensen had a fantastic first two periods for the Sharks, he nearly set up a goal by Joel Ward and almost had one of his own. He was flying around the ice and really looked good on a fourth line with Ward and Goodrow. But he did not see the ice in the third (he got two shifts, totalling 75 seconds).

After a dismal first period, Timo Meier was yanked off the top line and replaced by Kevin Labanc. Both Labanc and Meier appeared to get the message. They played with urgency for the remainder of the game. Labanc in particular was a lot harder on the puck. He'll have to keep playing that way if he wants more ice time. At times it's frustrating to see all the shifting of the lines with the Sharks' youth, but it's also understanable. DeBoer wants more out of these kids, and he's firing off messages to them at a rapid clip.

Labanc finished with positive possesion numbers (18 for, 10 against) but was on ice for one of Carolina goals. That said, he hasn't scored since Oct. 14, a run that has seen him demoted to the AHL (where he scored) and return. The kid needs a goal.

Sorensen was also positive (9 for, 6 against) but may have lost the script defensively (our guess). From where I was sitting (couchside) Sorensen looked like a really good match with Goodrow and Ward on line #4. I want more.

4. Martin Struggles in return

It was nice to see Paul Martin back, but his form wasn't a picture of elegance. The defenseman, playing in just his third game of the season and first since October 7, put up a 5-on-5 Corsi of 29.63 percent and didn't see the ice in the final 14 minutes. Nonetheless it was a good start, and one unintended consequence of his return may have been that his presence jogged Brent Burns' memory and reminded last year's Norris Trophy winner that he can score. Neither Martin or Burns were great defensively on this night, but it was nice to see Burns get the OT winner. More important was his helper on Logan Couture's power play goal in the third. It was very nice to see Burns distributing the puck rather than shoot it for once.

5. Speaking of Couture

Couture was relatively quiet offensively, but he chipped in his 14th with a wicked PP one-timer in the third (video can be seen below). That's what your leading scorer is supposed to do--get big goals.

6. Other notes

There was a lot to like about the play of Dylan Demelo and Joakim Ryan on Thursday night. The pair was not on ice for a goal against, and both players used some explosive skating to skate the puck out of trouble and spearhead breakouts. DeMelo had an impressive 75% Corsi at 5-on-5, and he's notched a 58.18 CF in just over 53 minutes with Ryan this season. Could be a really nice No.3 pair for the Sharks here. (Ryan took a lot of shifts with Burns in the third after Martin was benched)

Tomas Hertl made a fantastic play when he snaked around Noah Hanifin to earn a golden opportunity. Another reminder of how good Hertl can be when he's at his best.

Thursday's win marked the first time ever that the Sharks have come back from a three-goal deficit after the first.

The Sharks had 27 scoring chances (all phases), per Natural Stat Trick, in periods two and three. They allowed 25. Not your typical Sharks game.

Joe Thornton had two points and tied and passed Dale Hawerchuk for 19th on the NHL's all-time points list.

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