San Jose has obviously righted everything at home the past few games, but on Saturday night they did something they hadn’t done all season at HP Pavilion – win while trailing entering the third.
Team Teal’s only previous home comeback on the year came back on Nov. 10 when they trailed Phoenix 1-0 after 20 minutes, but they had taken the lead by the second period of that 4-1 victory.
On Saturday night, with all of Canada watching on Hockey Night in Canada, the Sharks trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes, but made an impressive rally to close out a 3-2 win.
What might have been the best part was that the Sharks used their power play to account for the first two tallies, and a de facto power play tally accounted for the game-winner. The Sharks have scored goals on four of their last twelve power play opportunities for a 33.3 percent clip.
San Jose began the third period up a man for 1:20 after starting to find some momentum as the second period closed. The found success when Captain Patrick Marleau
broke a seven-game goalless drought by blasting a shot from the point that deflected of a defenseman’s stick.
“We were starting on fresh ice,” said Joe Pavelski
striking early in the third. “Vesa was playing great and we wanted to get traffic.”
“They were playing Joe tight and I was able to get to the middle and shoot it on net,” said Marleau.
The second tally came on a five-on-three situation and Craig Rivet continued his hot offensive play by ripping his own shot from the point. He now has five points in his last four games.
“We were very fortunate to get the five-on-three,” said Rivet. “It was a big momentum swing. We worked the puck around. There were four talented guys out there and they let me shoot.”
The game-winner came when Jonathan Cheechoo ripped a shot from the left faceoff circle just as a power play expired and Joe Pavelski
tipped it home.
“I could see Cheechoo rolling and was hoping he would get the shooting lane,” said Pavelski.
San Jose’s recent surge at HP Pavilion showed the club would handle the 40 minute deficit differently than in the past.
“We were down, but not giving up many chances,” said Nabokov.
“We weren’t playing terribly, but we knew we could play better,” said Rivet. “We knew if we could get the first one, it might set them back. We just had to stick with it.”
“Once we broke the ice . . . the next thing you know, it’s lights out,” said Wilson.
Wilson had no doubt the Maple Leafs would prove a difficult opponent despite the difficult atmosphere following the team around.
“I half expected a really tough game from them,” said Wilson. “First, Hockey Night in Canada was in and everyone was watching. Second, they had two pretty bad outings (in Los Angeles and Anaheim) and Toskala was in goal. He’s a good goalie.”
At one point in the game, Nabokov was sprawled on the ice and teammates and fans were concerned. He would not stay down long and, after a visit from the training staff, returned to his crease. Nabokov felt a brief soreness in his neck after covering up a puck.
“I knew I’d be able to play through it,” said Nabokov. “Sometimes you get a little (tweak) and you want to be sure.”
The Sharks immediately flew to Anaheim where they will play at 5 p.m. on Sunday, less than 24 hours from Saturday’s game. Fans can catch the contest on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.
“Tomorrow will be tough,” said Wilson. “We’ll play a well rested team and be playing another game in 24 hours.”
JUMBO HEATING UP
With two assists, Joe Thornton
has now picked up five assists in his last two games and eleven in his last eight games.