(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
SAN JOSE– The San Jose Sharks defeated the Minnesota Wild by a score of 4-3 Saturday. Joe Pavelski scored the game winner with less than 90 seconds remaining in overtime. It was his 23rd of the season. Tomas Hertl scored his ninth, Joonas Donskoi scored his seventh, and Joel Ward scored his 23rd of the season. Joe Thornton earned his 930th career assist, putting him in 16th place on the NHL’s all time assists leaders.
With Saturday’s win, Sharks have earned points in eight of their last ten games, winning seven of those. They have won five of their last eight home games. The Sharks may have put their home ice woes behind them. The team’s confidence and optimism have returned. After Saturday’s win, Joe Pavelski said:
Felt really good. I like these day games. I think we had the energy right away, the fans were there. It’s exciting to play like that and the guys responded well in the first. I know we came in down 2-1 but it felt like we get that early goal and the energy’s there and we’re all over them we just didn’t find that next one. We let them back in but the guys stuck with it.
The Sharks wasted no time going after the first goal. Tomas Hertl took the puck to the net and tried once with a backhand, then got the puck back and took it around behind the net. Joe Thornton caught the puck in the corner and sent it in front of the net for Joe Pavelski, whose deflection went wide. Hertl got the puck again and put it in the net with a couple of whacks. Assists went to Pavelski and Thornton at 1:33.
The Sharks also took the first penalty of the game, a minor to Melker Karlsson for closing his hand on the puck at 11:24 of the first. The Wild power play started well, and by rights should have scored early, but a bounce here and there kept the puck just out of the net. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones also kept it out.
It was after the power play expired that Chris Porter tied the game, with a quick shot off of an offensive zone faceoff. A pass across the slot had Jones moving left to right but not fast enough to stop Porter’s shot. Assists went to Marco Scandella and Erik Haula at 13:00.
Joel Ward went to the the box in the final two minutes of the first, for tripping. The Wild scored in the final 30 second of the penalty, after a mad scramble to get a puck that Jones had slowed down but not controlled. Pete DeBoer challenged the goal on the basis of goaltender interference. In the scramble at the crease, the Wild player’s stick knocked Jones’ stick loose, but Jones brought his stick around behind and put it over the Wild stick, not the other way around. The goal stood up and the Sharks lost their timeout. The power play goal was Charlie Coyle’s, with assists to Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon.
At the end of the first, the score was 2-1 Minnesota and the shots were 10-9 Minnesota.
Chris Tierney drew a tripping penalty on Marco Scandella at 8:39 of the period. The trip spoke to Tierney’s persistence in the Minnesota zone as he and the fourth line made life difficult for the Minnesota defense. The Sharks could not convert on the power play but they had another chance just a few seconds after that one expired. Jared Spurgeon went to the box for hooking Logan Couture. As in the prior power play, the Sharks had a difficult time finding good shots. The Wild penalty killers read the Sharks skaters well and efficiently blocked shooting and passing lanes.
Midway through this power play, Tomas Hertl went to the bench after being struck in the back of the neck by a Brent Burns shot. After the game, he commented that he was “just a little bit sore, and maybe if he hit harder I may be in hospital now because he has really hard shot and I’m okay.”
After Hertl went to the bench, the second power play unit came out and with a couple of passes found that chance the first unit had been missing. A pass from Joel Ward reached Donskoi near the left goal line. Donskoi’s one-timer went through a small hole between Kuemper and the post to tie the game. Assists went to Ward and Pavelski.
Many of those same players were on the ice again when the Sharks skated in later at even strength, outnumbering the Wild. Couture carried the puck up the middle, passed it to Donskoi who just missed to the right of the net. His shot went of the back boards and into Couture’s skates in the corner. Couture sent it back above the goal line, where Joel Ward caught it and put it in the net. Assists went to Couture and Donskoi.
At the end of the second, the score was 3-2 Sharks and the shots were 23-18 Sharks.
The third with a hooking penalty to Joe Thornton just 23 seconds in. The Sharks killed the penalty off, and Chris Tierney even led a short-handed rush but the score remained the same.
With 7:50 left in the third, the Wild tied it up on a goal from Jarret Stoll. Jonas Brodin took a shot from high in the slot, which Jones stopped, but Stoll picked up the rebound while fighting off Brent Burns right in front of the blue paint.
The game was starting to look like overtime with the score tied late. With 1:23 left in the period, Joe Thornton won an offensive zone faceoff and Joe Pavelski picked up the puck behind him. He took a couple of strides to the middle and shot it past Kuemper for the lead.
The Sharks next play on Sunday at 7:00 PT against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.