When lines are centered by All-Stars Patrick Marleau
and Joe Thornton
, it is expected by fans for them to lead every contest – which a virtually impossibility over an 82-game regular season schedule. That is why it is extra special when trios like Marcel Goc, Steve Bernier and Ryane Clowe
step up as they did Sunday evening in the 3-0 win against Edmonton.
Bernier scored the game-winning goal in the first period to give him four points (2-2=4) in the last six games. On the play, Clowe fought for possession behind the net and fed Marc-Edouard Vlasic
at the point. When he fired on net, Bernier stuffed in the rebound. With the assist, Clowe now has 28 points (12-16=28) in his last 29 games.
“We know that they have a big defense and the only way to beat them is to finish every check and to put pressure on the puck,” said Bernier. “That is what we did all game. Our line only scored one goal, but we banged all game. That is what our line is there for – to bring energy. When you score it is a plus.”
Bernier’s coach was just as impressed.
“[Marcel Goc’s] line dominated every shift,” said Ron Wilson. “There was puck position when they were on the ice. They were using their big bodies, banging (Edmonton’s) defense. We wanted to try to wear them down, and I think we did.”
Their Sharks teammates were just as impressed.
“That’s the best I’ve seen that line,” said Kyle McLaren. “They dictated the puck and held on to the puck. They were our top line tonight. In order for us to (go deep) in the playoffs, we need those guys.”
Players like Vlasic providing offense is also another item necessary for a playoff run.
“His poise is improving and he is working on things,” said Wilson. “It’s nice to see Vlasic improve as much as he has with his offense. I think since the trade deadline, he has settled down and played better.”
Could Vlasic be heading toward the NHL Awards ceremony at the end of the year as the Calder Trophy race winds down?
“The Calder Trophy is all about scoring points, even if you’re a defenseman,” said Wilson. “A defenseman that is more defensive won’t (win). He’s played more minutes than any rookie in the league. I’d be hard pressed to find a rookie more valuable. Staal is under the radar as well with Pittsburgh. It is nice for the league to have so many good young players.”
Evgeni Nabokov has allowed just one regulation tally in the past four contests, one of the more impressive goaltending stretches in the NHL this season. He has posted three shutouts in those four contests and it was the Sharks first home shutout since December against Phoenix.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted, but the goaltending played well again and we were rewarded at the end of the game,” said McLaren.
Nabokov was tested in the middle stanza, but kept the shutout in tact.
“I think in the second period, there were a couple of scrambles around the net,” said Nabokov. “Those are always dangerous.”
So what was his biggest stop on the night?
“Any thing can be tipped, so it is hard to put one save above others,” said Nabokov. “Sometimes the easy save is more important that the hard save.”
The Sharks knew the Oilers were a bit dinged up and it would not be a classic wide-open affair.
“They were missing a lot of guys and it was a different team last time,” said McLaren. “They worked hard until the end.”
Wilson liked that the Sharks were patient for the entire 60 minutes and didn’t get frustrated.
“If you’ve watched the last couple games [Edmonton] has played, even with their injuries, they hang in there right to the end,” said Wilson. “You just have to stick to your plan, not take too many chances. Tonight, Roloson made some big saves. What I liked is that we basically stayed patient for the whole sixty minutes, and yet we were still aggressive. That is a good way to tune up for the stretch drive.”
Matt Carle’s third period goal gave him ten goals on the season and tied Brad Stuart for the single season rookie record for goals by a defenseman.
OILERS HEAD COACH, CRAIG MACTAVISH
“He [Roloson] played good. He did what we needed him to do tonight. He gave us a chance.”
“I was reasonably happy with the way we played tonight. It’s a frustrating exercise. Don’t get me wrong, but sometimes your objectives change in the course of the season; where it’s not all about winning and losing. It’s about being in the right spots and playing for one another. I was pretty happy with the way we did that tonight.”
The Sharks will close their brief homestand on Tuesday with an HP Pavilion visit by the Chicago Blackhawks. The 7:30 p.m. start will be available on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com.