(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
SAN JOSE–Saturday night, three Sharks lines scored three goals to defeat the New York Islanders 3-1. Additionally, instead of giving up a lead in the third frame, the Sharks picked up the pace, took the lead and stretched it out. This marked a shift away from recent bad habits.
Tomas Hertl and James Sheppard scored the Sharks’ first and third goals of the game. The game winner was a goal from Logan Couture, the second Sharks goal of the night. Even if the lines were switched around a bit during the game, getting goals from three of the four lines had to please Sharks’ head coach Todd McLellan.
While he started the game on the fourth line, Hertl continued to be part of the second power play unit. That is where he was playing when he scored Saturday. After the game, head coach Todd McLellan said of Hertl and the bottom six:
We moved him up a line and rewarded him with that. In turn, Shep gelled with Burr and Desi down the stretch in the last period and a half. So, as it turns out we had a kid line and a veteran group of players that both contributed to the win tonight.
The Islanders struck first almost ten minutes in to the first period. Kyle Okposo scored it. Okposo had spent a lot of time in the Sharks’ zone, he seemed a likely candidate to score first Saturday.
The game to that point had been a tough back and forth affair, with the shot count low but even. Of the Sharks’ lines, the Couture-Marleau-Wingels line seemed to be spending the most time in the Islanders’ zone.
The Islanders’ goal was followed closely by a power play for the Sharks, when Ryan Strome went to the box for high sticking. The Sharks’ first power play unit of Thornton, Couture, Marleau, Pavelski and Burns had some excellent chances but Islanders’ goalie Jaroslav Halak was there every time. A line change brought Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels out with Nieto and Vlasic. At 10:23, Tomas Hertl scored his first of the season to tie the game. Assists went to Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto.
After the game, Hertl said of the goal:
Tommy Wingels’ pass was very very nice for me so it was [a] very easy goal.
Tommy Wingels said, of that goal and what it may portend:
It’s good to see him score. I think everyone could see a big smile on his face after. Sometimes it only takes one goal to really get you going and we hope that’s the case with Tomas.
By the end of the first period, the shots on goal had tilted dramatically for the Sharks, 17-6.
To start the second period, the Sharks were missing a defenseman as it was announced that Scott Hannan was questionable to return. At 2:45, Tommy Wingels went to the box for holding. The Sharks penalty kill was efficient and teal jerseys spent some time in the Islanders’ end as well. Matt Nieto blocked a shot that looked painful, and Antti Niemi made some good saves to keep the game tied.
The Sharks were still outshooting New York 2-1, but that lead was getting harder to maintain. By the 15 minute mark, the Sharks only had two shots on goal. McLellan predictably started jumbling the lines. Hertl moved to the third with Goodrow and Tierney, Sheppard down to the fourth with Burish and Desjardins. It looked briefly as if Marleau might have been moved to the Joe line but on the next faceoff, Nieto was still with Thorton and Pavelski.
The second period ended with only 11 shots fired, five by the Sharks, six by the Islanders.
At 1:55 of the third period, Jason Demers went to the box for contact to the head of Cory Conacher. Conacher left the game for about ten minutes of play. He returned to the bench with 9:31 left in the period.
The Islanders used that power play to eat into the Sharks’ shot lead. It took the Sharks several minutes to regain their momentum, but they took the lead for the first time at 11:50 of the period. Logan Couture redirected a shot from Justin Braun. The second assist went to Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The game went from good to better for the Sharks at 15:35 when James Sheppard scored his first goal of the season, off a nice short pass from Adam Burish. A secondary assist went to Andrew Desjardins.
With 3:50 left in regulation, Conacher was escorted from the game by an official with a ten minute misconduct.
At 18:47, Adam Burish was called for holding. The Islanders used their timeout but the Sharks held on for the win.
Final score: 3-1 Sharks.
Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots on goal with 7. Brent Burns led the team in hits with 6. Mirco Mueller led the Sharks with 6 blocked shots, Brent Burns also led the team in ice time with 26:29. Antti Niemi made 19 saves on 20 shots.
For the Islanders, the shots leader was Anders Lee with 3, while Cal Clutterbuck led the team with 11 hits. Hamonic, Visnovky and Hickey each blocked 3 shots. John Tavares led the Islanders in ice time with 23:51. Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves on 31 shots.
The Sharks’ scratches were John Scott, Tye McGinn and Matt Irwin.
The Sharks next play at 7:30 pm on Thursday at SAP Center, against the visiting Vancouver Canucks.