Two significant areas the San Jose Sharks needed improvement in finally surfaced Saturday night against the Calgary Flames. Winning at home, and scoring on the power play. Propelled by a 25-save performance from goaltender Martin Jones, and a perfect 2-for-2 on the power play, the Sharks (14-9-0) skated to a 5-2 victory.
A potent special teams unit saw Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau score power play goals just 50 seconds apart. In all, San Jose received goals from five different players — Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl and Marc-Edouard Vlasic rounded out the scoring for the Sharks. Wingels and Hertl answered the bell of head coach Peter DeBoer — during Wednesday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, the two were benched during the third period for underperforming.
“Our line found a way early, and when you’re able to find your legs and get a goal early, it propels you the rest of the game,” Wingels said. “It was a good rebound game for us and we kind of showed ourselves and showed our teammates what kind of line we can be.”
Wingels got the Sharks on the board first, redirecting a Vlasic shot — the goal equaled his second in 22 games. Hertl wasted no time in making his statement, scoring a goal just over two minutes later after defenseman Brendan Dillon faked out the Flames defense with a fake shot and slid the puck across the ice. It was Hertl’s first goal in the last 20 games.
DeBoer asked for a change of play from the youngsters. Saturday night, he believes the message was received, and responded to.
“Great response, exactly what we needed,” DeBoer said. “They were a key part of the game. Set the tone with the forecheck and got us those two first-period goals. Key part and we need those guys.”
Hertl’s obvious change of heart on the ice was noticeable to his teammates.
“It was one of the better games he’s played this year,” captain Joe Pavelski said of Hertl. “You just saw the intensity. That’s what it takes.”
Rewarded for their efforts, the Sharks at one point built a four-goal lead midway through the third period.
“We were desperate right from the start,” Pavelski said. “We had everyone going and that was important. We’ve got to start winning a few games at home, and that was kind of our talk, is win tonight and go from there.”
One moment that might have gone unnoticed during the game, was Joe Thornton recording his 1,274th NHL point. The achievement ties him for 34th on the all-time list. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun was placed on injured reserve shortly before the game due to an infection in his elbow — no further information has been made readily available. Saturday night marked for the first time San Jose has scored at least one power play goal in three straight games.