The San Jose Sharks exploded in the second period of Sunday’s contest for four goals, and the stanza was close to a perfect for the entire 20 minutes in the 6-2 victory. The four goals were topped only by the second period defensive play as the Sharks held the Kings shotless until the 19 minute mark.
“I didn’t want to jinx it, but I was hoping we wouldn’t give up a shot,” said Ron Wilson. “I loved the way we played with intensity. You don’t want to go into the third in a one-goal game.”
“We’ve played good defense the last 10 games,” said Joe Thornton
. “We kept them outside.”
The second period was not quite the same as a difficult first period that ended tied at one, but that was due to a plethora of penalties by Team Teal.
“We gave them a chance to get back into it,” said Cheechoo.
San Jose has been on a tear of late and kept themselves in position for another Pacific Division title. The Sharks trail Anaheim by two points and the Ducks are the next opponent. Should the Sharks finish tied with Anaheim or Dallas, San Jose would likely hold the tie-breaker based on total wins.
“We still have a chance,” said Ron Wilson. “It is not in our control, but if we win Wednesday, we can hope for a break.”
The Sharks trail first place Anaheim by four points and are tied with the Dallas Stars (at 102 points), but the Stars have a game in hand. San Jose and Dallas do not have a head-to-head game remaining, but both clubs will play Anaheim.
If Sunday’s standings held up, the Sharks would be heading north for the playoffs.
“It looks like it will be Vancouver in the first round,” said Wilson. “If that happens, we’ll get a peak (on April 7). It would probably work out for both teams (from a travel perspective).”
Wherever they finish, the Sharks know that are playing great hockey.
“The whole team is going at the right time,” said Cheechoo.
“We want to be playing well,” said Thornton. “Cheechoo and Milan are putting the puck in the back of the net and making my job easy.”
And Thornton is making their job easy. He is now second in the NHL with 109 points (21+88=109). He also set a new franchise record for assists in a period with four (second period) and tied a franchise record for most assists in a game.
His wing man Cheechoo set a couple of marks himself Sunday afternoon. Cheechoo scored three goals, giving him 32 points (19-13=32) in his last 25 games and recorded his third hat trick of the year. He also tied a franchise record for goals in a period with three in the second and now has 35 goals on the season.
Since Cheechoo wasn’t awarded one of his goals until a video review during the second intermission, the fans had a belated celebration instead of the spur-of-the-moment hat launch. Cheechoo couldn’t recall be awarded a hat trick in that matter previously.
“No, but they checked to see if it went off Milan,” said Cheechoo. “It doesn’t matter who gets it.”
Wilson noted that both Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala will play in the final three games.
“Toskala will play one of the next two games and we’ll make a decision for Saturday,” said Wilson.
The Sharks just finished a stretch where 10 of 11 opponents were out of the playoffs and now they will face Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver, three teams headed to the postseason.
“I’m glad we’re through this part of the schedule where teams are out,” said Ron Wilson.
On the Sharks final road trip, Matt Carle broke Marcus Ragnarsson’s rookie record for points by a blueliner (39).
“It’s an honor to be part of a record,” said Carle. “More important than the single season award is winning.”
Carle noted that the talented Sharks club helped him in reaching the goal and assist totals.
“Hockey is a team sport and you accomplish things together,” said Carle. “The group here made it easy to (reach the mark).”
Carle was not quite sure of the person whose record he broke.
“I recall the name, but didn’t know he had the record,” said Carle.
Patrick Rissmiller recorded his 7th goal of the season and the Sharks have won each game in which Rissmiller has lit the lamp (7-0-0).
Sunday’s game marked Curtis Brown’s 700th NHL game and Ron Wilson’s 300th contest as the Sharks head coach.
KINGS HEAD COACH, MARC CRAWFORD:
“In the second period, they just dominated us. Obviously they just smelled blood and they were way too much for us to handle.”
“The second period was the difference and we just turned over too many pucks on the rush that gave them too many opportunities.”
The Sharks are off until Wednesday when they travel to Anaheim for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Ducks. The game will be on FSN+ (possibly joined in progress), 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.