The San Jose Sharks are 3-0-0 on the first half of their longest road trip of the 2015-16 NHL season after beating the Boston Bruins Tuesday, Nov. 17. The pictured stars were taken from a plethora of scorers using efficient shot selections to make both goalies statistically worse than their play warranted.
Tuukka Rask had only one goal among the five to beat him that he maybe should have had, and it would not be accurately described as soft. He got the crowd going with the “Tuke” (toque?) chant for a couple highlight-reel saves. CSN Bay Area analyst and former Shark Curtis Brown noted that Martin Jones had one of those saves in every period including in the final seconds to hold the lead, though he did have one soft goal allowed among his four.
The nine goals came on just 57 shots and 99 attempts. Another surprise in the event summary is the winning team not winning a single statistic: 28-33 faceoffs, 8-8 giveaways, 4-7 takeaways, 21-33 blocks, 48-51 attempts, 28-29 shots and 12-13 blocks.
While the Eastern Conference wins may not have the impact of wins against teams San Jose is competing with for a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they do accomplish the same goal since the three wins are enough to put it in second place in the Pacific Division. The road trips to the Eastern Time Zone are also generally hardest for Pacific Time Zone teams, adding to the confidence the team should be gaining.
Then again, the only team on the entire six-game Eastern Conference road trip that is more than a point above .500 so far this 2015-16 NHL season is the Pittsburgh Penguins coming up Saturday. Looming the next (and last) day is the improved Columbus Blue Jackets the Sharks always struggle against.
Even if the current wins are not indicative of a stronger team, the points are important. With that tough back-to-back weekend set following Thursday’s game at the Philadelphia Flyers, every point is at a premium even this early in the 2015-16 NHL season.
For a change, San Jose had that kind of urgency out of the gate. After giving up a goal before the first television timeout in seven of the last eight games, they have now scored before that timeout in two straight.
Boston joined the Buffalo Sabres as victims of a score in the opening two minutes. This time it was scored by the line that started the game: Brent Burns sent the puck into the slot, Joe Thornton dropped it back to Melker Karlsson and Joe Pavelski potted the rebound before Rask could recover just 42 seconds into the game.
The Bruins answered with a fourth-line tally from Tyler Randell (Dennis Seidenberg got the only assist) and got the first power play within a minute of that score. The Sharks killed off 1:44 before Zdeno Chara got the puck from Brett Connolly and fired on net, allowing Brad Marchand to clean up the rebound.
Just over four minutes later, Tommy Wingels got a shot on goal and the puck came back to Paul Martin for a shot-pass deflection by Joonas Donskoi to tie the game. That held up through intermission, but Boston got back on top in the first two minutes of the second when David Krejci picked up a puck Seidenberg pushed behind the net and fed Loui Ericksson for a sharp-angle, one-timer goal.
That is when San Jose took over: 4:03 later Pavelski moved the puck behind the goal line to Thornton for a one-timer feed to Karlsson. On a power play exactly three minutes later, Patrick Marleau’s 999th regular-season point put his team up to stay when he put home a rebound home of Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot.
Burns got this secondary assist on that score and then got another on a new power play 25 seconds later when Pavelski fed Thornton in the slot for the one-timer blast. The scoring dried up after that, but the Bruins did get one more 6:28 into the third period when Krejci got the puck out of the defensive zone to Patrice Bergeron, who executed a give-and-go perfectly with Ryan Spooner and put the one-timer blast past Jones to draw within one.
From there, the Sharks hung on by killing their first penalty with just over five minutes to go and thanks to a power play that ended inside the final minute. The five goals doubled the number that had scored on the Eastern Conference road trip and was just the sixth time they scored more than three goals in 18 games so far this 2015-16 NHL season.