The way the Sharks have played in one goal games this year, it is almost routine the way they find a way to pull them out. The proof was in the pudding again Thursday in a 3-2 W against Minnesota. The Sharks tied their season high with 50 shots and willed their way past Niklas Backstrom, who was impenetrable at times.
San Jose’s last two goals were courtesy of nice breaks off Wild defenders, but they counted nonetheless and with 50 attempts, there was no question the Sharks were due for a tally or two.
“It was a good time for the power play to step up,” Patrick Marleau
said. “Backstrom was really good on their side and we finally got through. We stuck with it and it paid off. You can’t stop shooting.”
“Sometimes you need those bounces,” Dan Boyle
said. “Their shorthanded goal ricocheted. It was a bounce on their side and we got one on the winning goal.”
The victory kept San Jose three points ahead of Phoenix for third place in the Pacific Division.
“We’re both playing for our playoff lives and they are on the cusp,” Boyle said. “We came up with a huge win tonight.”
Jamal Mayers had gone 31 contests without a goal, but he scored the pivotal first tally Thursday when Joe Pavelski
sent him ahead of the defense and Mayers deftly put his backhander across the line.
“I just tried to keep my feet moving and got lucky on the backhand,” Mayers said. “The backhand is tough for the goalie to read, but I don’t think I had time to bring it to my forehand.”
Boyle was down on the ice at one point and visibly in pain, pounding on the frozen surface. He was able to skate off on his own power and return to the game. He had an interesting answer when asked how he felt postgame.
“Ask me tomorrow. The body is not supposed to bend that way,” Boyle laughed. “I’m happy with the way things are right now. It was one of those things, I thought I was down. A couple of punches in the ice and I took a deep breath. From where the pain was to where it was 30 seconds later, so far so good.”
8 IS ENOUGH
Marleau now has eight game-winning goals and is tied for first on the club with Logan Couture
“It’s a good thing we have him,” McLellan said. “He seems to be the go-to guy right now. Nice to see him get it on the power play. I’d like to see him do it for a long time yet.”
Netminder Antti Niemi
has now started 27 consecutive games, second all-time in the Sharks record book.
“We check with him every day and he just smiles and tells us he’s ready to play,” McLellan said. “He doesn’t show anything and we try to kick him off the ice at practice. If he’s tired, he’s not showing it.”
A reporter drew a laugh, asking if Niemi not coming off as tired was due to a language barrier.
“Smiles are universal,” McLellan said.
SHARKS HEAD COACH TODD MCLELLAN
“We started the night with a game plan and we didn’t want to get away from it. We felt they needed to be patient. We thought by the end of the night, our defense would make the difference in the game. Not necessarily the offense.”
“We had a few opportunities to safely advance the puck and clear the zone. And for whatever reason it didn’t happen. We were not strong enough along the boards, maybe a little too fine with clearing attempts. And you know with the goalie pulled they are just going to throw it to the net. They crashed it hard but one of the strengths of Niemi is his ability to push back against the crowd and then smothering a couple of loose pucks.”
WILD HEAD COACH TODD RICHARDS
“You can create a lot of your bounces and a lot of your breaks. San Jose did that tonight and they were rewarded with a couple nice bounces. The second period was the second time this year that we have given up 20 plus shots in a period.”
“You’re always disappointed after a loss and obviously disappointed when you lose four in a row. We had some guys that really put it on the line tonight, but we needed more guys.”
“I think we have the players. I think we have proved it through the course of the season. We put ourselves in a position for playoff contention.”
The Sharks will host St. Louis Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.