When San Jose needed an offensive spark for their 3-2 victory against Columbus, it came from an unlikely spot. Patrick Rissmiller entered the contest with two goals on the entire season. He doubled that total Saturday night with the first two-goal game of his NHL career.
His initial tally came courtesy of some good, old-fashioned hard work as Rissmiller planted himself in front of the crease and Matt Carle sent to puck in from the blueline. Rissmiller joked he was just trying to get out of the way, but it was his actions that created the goal as he tipped the puck past Pascal Leclaire.
“I was just trying to screen the goalie,” said Rissmiller. “It was a nice play by Rivs to get the puck to Mattie.”
Rissmiller started the play on his second goal, then reaped the reward at the end.
“I just saw Pavs coming around the net and started yelling,” said Rissmiller who was open in the slot.
Rissmiller’s teammates were happy to see the defensive minded winger net two goals, including the game-winner.
“It’s great,” said Kyle McLaren. “He works extremely hard on defense. It couldn’t happen at a better time.”
Rissmiller was on the ice with the empty net, but the hat trick eluded him.
“I had a couple good chances to score,” said Rissmiller of a potential hat trick.
ENDING THE STREAK The Sharks had lost five consecutive games at HP Pavilion but, despite a late third period glitch where two goals were allowed to let Columbus pull within one, they ended that streak Saturday night.
“It’s very important to win at home,” said Bernier.
“There was a sense in this lockerroom coming into today that we’d get the job done,” said Pavelski. “The fans have been behind us the whole time.”
San Jose has now grabbed three of the last four points available at HP Pavilion.
“We played really well,” said Ron Wilson.
The Sharks have hit the halfway point of their schedule with a 23-12-6 mark, which has them standing alone in first place in the Pacific Division and second overall in the Western Conference.
“We second in the conference and third overall in the NHL,” said Wilson. “We could play better, but we’re very pleased with where we are.”
BIG BEAR Steve Bernier continued his strong play, picking up the Sharks second goal, posting his sixth point in the past five games. Bernier’s marker was highlight reel worthy as he beat a defender to a loose puck and quickly spun completely around and fired on net.
“It bounced for me and stayed away from the defense,” said Bernier. “It was a lucky goal, but I’ll take it any time.”
ALL-STAR COACH With the victory, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson sealed a spot as an assistant coach at the NHL All-Star Game for the Western Conference.
LEAD SLIPS San Jose led 3-0 in the third period, only to see Columbus pull within one. Team Teal did not lose their focus and easily closed out the contest.
“We laid back for 10 minutes and they scored two goals,” said Bernier. “In the end, it’s two points and that was our goal before the game.”
“We were on our heels a little in the third, but we stuck it out,” said Rissmiller.
DIFFICULT ICE The rains and humidity hitting the Bay Area have had an adverse affect on the ice for the short term at HP Pavilion, but the playing field was level. Pavelski felt it may actually have created a bit of a home-ice advantage
“It’s the same for both teams,” said Pavelski. “It was slushier and might have played into the last goal (for us).”
GETTING HEALTHY San Jose’s lockerroom has been fighting the flu recently, but is getting close to full strength.
“Milan didn’t skate this morning and needed an IV,’ said Wilson. “Maybe Pavs was still a little under the weather.”
HELPERS With an assist on Bernier’s goal, Craig Rivet (3-14=17) is now tied for second on the team in assists.
NEXT GAME The Sharks will be off from live action until Thursday when they host Vancouver at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com