Ideally one of the several goal posts hit by San Jose Saturday against Columbus would have directed the puck across the goal line instead of steering away. In that scenario, the Sharks would likely have come out with the 3-2 victory and an extra point.
Even with the loss, the sojourn to Sweden must be deemed a success. Columbus was facing the same obstacles as San Jose, the 10 days away from home, with almost the same amount of time not playing an NHL opponent on NHL ice, as well as the never the ending search to get their body clocks adjusted, yet the Sharks captured three of four available points. A 75 percent success rate will work just fine for the Sharks all year long.
“You want to win every game and we were a little disappointed,” said Thornton. “We had a chance at the end with that power play and we didn’t get it done. It’s been a long trip, but we’re going home with three out of four points. It’s still pretty satisfying.”
“It’s been a long trip,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “To come over and play two games in two weeks, that’s a long road trip. I think we got better and found some things to work on. At least we have a measuring (stick) and points in the bank people can’t take away from us.”
With all the time away from home, there was an opportunity for players like Jamal Mayers, Tommy Wingels
and John McCarthy to bond with their teammates and feel more ingrained in the Sharks culture.
“We spent a lot of time together the last nine days or whatever,” said Setoguchi. “We got to know some of the new guys and the new guys got to know some of us. It’s going to be good to go home, but we had a good time here. Sweden and Germany were good hosts to us.”
“Every team wants to start on the road to get the guys meshing,” said Thornton. “In the long run this is going to be good for us to go on the road (early). For a group of guys to get to know each other, this was perfect timing.”
San Jose’s players seemed to find the right balance between learning a little about their host cities while maintaining the “business trip” approach McLellan was hoping for.
On the ice, the biggest take from Sweden was the successful power play which connected the dots twice in each game.
“The power play got us four goals in two games and that should be enough,” said McLellan. “It will continue to be fine and the penalty kill made some strides. Five-on-five we were much better today. We took steps forward.”
The Sharks departed Sweden as quick as they could, not because they wouldn’t like a little free time in the spectacular city, but in order to re-acclimate their bodies to the Pacific Time Zone. McLellan rested his team on Sunday and will skate them on Monday. He also hinted that another off day could be coming, but getting the players back in a routine is extremely vital.
It took a bit longer for some, but the players were game ready in Stockholm where many acknowledged their body clocks not being adjusted for the Mannheim contest. Now the trick comes in doing that at home.
“We adjusted here and we’ll have to adjust going back,” said McLellan. “I expect the return portion will be easier being in our own homes and eating our own food. We have a long week of practice and we need it, but we need to make sure our energy is there (for the home opener).”
Antero Niittymaki would rather have won his first start with San Jose, but he did show some of the talents he was brought in for.
“If you look at the goals, he’d really like the first one back,” said McLellan. “After that, in the first period when they pressured us like crazy, he really responded and was there for us.”
Niittymaki can’t be completely faulted for the game-winner as he faced down a Columbus shooter all alone in overtime and managed to find a piece of the puck.
"I think it hit my glove pretty well. That’s hockey,” said Niittymaki.
The clang of the iron was prevalent for the Sharks and Blue Jackets in their Swedish finale.
“It was weird,” said Thornton. “They had a couple and we had a couple. It’s just one of those nights where the puck didn’t want to find its way in.”
Thornton’s goal, his second in two nights, hit the back iron and flung out so fast, many weren’t sure what happened. The sound of iron had many thinking the puck didn’t cross the line either, but it clearly hit the pipe in the back of the net.
“The ref knew and I knew,” said Thornton. “The boys knew. It was just a quick shot.”