Before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the San Jose Sharks had three days to think about the 7-1 loss they had suffered at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. It’s no secret the Sharks had been suffering at home lately. The NHL’s best road team, boasting a (11-3-2) record in the opposition’s building, could barely generate any offense, or excitement for that matter, in front of their sellout crowds.
So when the Wild came to town for San Jose’s second of four straight home games, the Sharks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard early and often.
Joe Pavelski, Mike Grier, and Steve Bernier led the way for San Jose. Just 2:39 into the first period, Pavelski notched the Sharks first tally. Grier scored at 4:17 of the second, followed by back-to-back goals by Steve Bernier, including one on the powerplay. San Jose would hold on to defeat the Wild by the score of 4-1 for their fifth home victory of the season.
“Anytime you lose 7-1 or you lose big you want to come back, especially in your own building, and prove that it’s just a fluke,” explained Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov following the win. After allowing four goals before being pulled against Buffalo on Saturday night, the Sharks No. 1 goaltender bounced back for 37 saves in the win.
“We came out strong and I thought we were doing the little things right,” he continued. “I think Patty’s (Marleau) line with Goc was really good with Bernier and I think everyone did a good job defensively.”
For San Jose, the 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres was the wakeup call they need to jump start their sputtering home-ice offense.
“I think we played well for sixty minutes,” added Marcel Goc, who was making his return to the ice after being placed on the Injured Reserve on November 17 for back spasms. “We have to learn from the game against Buffalo and we need to keep playing the same way no matter what the score is. I think we bounced back well.”
Playing alongside Goc for most of the night was Bernier, who tallied two second period goals within a span of 4:29. Back-to-back goals by Bernier and a solid effort by Goc were huge for the Sharks offense considering they were missing Jeremy Roenick (knee) and Jonathan Cheechoo (groin).
“Tonight was a great feeling for me and it was great feeling for the team to win," said Bernier. "It was a very important win at home.
“We practiced a lot this week about being strong in front of the net and trying to get the rebound and that’s what I did tonight. Sometimes the puck is going to turn right on your stick and sometimes not and tonight was the night that I was lucky.”
Evgeni Nabokov echoed the praise for his teammates filling in roles that were left open by injury.
“You know that someone has to step up,” he responded when asked about the absence of Roenick and Cheechoo. “If no one steps up then you’re obviously in trouble. We have enough guys and we have enough talent to realize what the situation is and to take advantage of it. I thought Goc was a great example. He played with Patty and I thought the line was flying out there.”
But it wasn’t all about the offense. The Sharks finally looked like the team that everyone had hyped in the offseason. They played like the total package: lethal on attack, solid on defense and feisty when anyone got too close to Nabokov.
Finally, a complete effort at home.
The Sharks continue their four-game home stand on Thursday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks. The game is set for the traditional 7:30 PM (Pacific) start and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.