When the Sharks were trailing 4-0 Tuesday night against Los Angeles and went into comeback mode, they scored as they had all year – that is they found scoring from all of their lines. San Jose is a deep team and it took three lines firing to complete the historic comeback.
Whether Team Teal scores first or has to rally, they know everyone is important to the battle.
“That’s the secret of our success,” Captain Joe Thornton
said. “All three lines are pretty dynamic and we feel like all three lines can chip in every night.”
“It’s really important,” Torrey Mitchell
said. “It’s really four lines when we’re all going. It seems like when everyone is chipping in, we’re really coming in waves. It’s really valuable asset to have at this time of year.”
“We’ve had seven 20 goal scorers this season,” Logan Couture
pointed out. “Whatever line goes over the boards, we’re confident they can create some offense for us. The successful teams that go all the way have scoring on four lines and that’s what we have. It’s good that everyone generates and we don’t’ have to count one game.
The balanced scoring becomes a little more imperative during the Stanley Cup Playoffs as there are battle plans in a seven game series targeting the top players.
“It’s essential at this time of the year,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “If one line isn’t playing well or they are shutting someone down, you have to have that depth and that ability to score from other areas. When have all three rolling and all three playing well offensively, that’s a great thing.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs,” Dan Boyle
said. “You can’t have just one line going. You need everybody. I think our defense stepped up and a few of us had assists in the last game. You see a lot of matchups and they use their top two guys against your top line, so it’s very important for that secondary scoring to come through. I feel we’re as deep as anybody.”
Teams scoring first won 2010 playoff contests better than 63 percent of the time. That number alone lets the Sharks know the value of the first goal. Tuesday’s game results had only happened four times in the NHL’s lifetime, so they know rallying from behind is not a trend they want to set.
“It would be important for us, especially with the energy in the building,” McLellan said of scoring first.
“We don’t want to get ourselves in the same situation as we did last time,” Boyle said. “We want to get off to a good start. We’re not sure what the score will be after 10 minutes, but it’s very important that we play the right way and feel good about ourselves.
“We want to lead and play in front. History shows if you get the first goal the odds are in your favor,” Marleau said.
That same Kings rush from Game 3 will be awaiting San Jose in Game 4.
“We know they are going to come out strong after the last game and we have to weather the storm,” Captain Joe Thornton
said. “It would be nice to score the first five minutes, but just stay calm and stay focused.”
The Sharks are still waiting on the complete game they know they are capable of producing. They’ve clearly done some things right in leading 2-1, but they want to bring the entire kit to take a 3-1 series lead.
“We have not played a full 60 or 80 minutes yet,” Boyle said. “We can definitely be better. It’s playoff hockey. The other team is going to be very good. They are going to be playing better than you at some point and time, but you’ve got to play hard and well. We have to be a little more consistent.”
When you combine both ends of the ice, the Shark five-goal second period on Tuesday may not have been their best period to date this postseason.
“The first period of the series was our best of the series so far, even though it’s hard to argue with the five goals in one period (last game). That was pretty good too,” Boyle said. “I just liked the way we came out in the series and we have to get back to that.”
“It’s exciting we’re up 2-1, but we’re looking for a better effort,” Couture said. “We all know in this room we haven’t played good hockey yet.”
McLellan let the hockey world know after the morning skate that Antti Niemi
would be back between the pipes.
“He’s been there before, has a ton of experience, recovered well from poor games in the past and we really believe in this guy,” McLellan said.
McLellan is still deciding on what his game lineup will look like.
“We’re still debating a few things,” McLellan said. “I like the size and competitiveness on our fourth line. We need them to play with a little more polish and be a little more active in the game. I didn’t give them that much of an opportunity the last game. If we keep them together, they will get a chance tonight and they have to be a little better.”
Game 4 will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.