It’s not like there was a celebration when the Sharks toppled Dallas 6-0 to clinch a postseason birth, but there was a degree of knowing they will part of the group fighting for Lord Stanley’s Cup. San Jose has participated in the postseason party in 14 of their 19 seasons (one lockout year is why there are not 20 possibilities in this 20th year of the franchise).
“It’s nice,” Sharks Captain Joe Thornton
said. “We’re part of where we want to be. There was a lot of work up to now and we’re going to have to continue it. It’s satisfying we’re in the postseason and (we had) a good effort tonight to get there.”
“That’s an accomplishment,” Dan Boyle
said. “We did it a different way than the last couple of years. We certainly fought our way back into it. We got a huge win tonight and we’ve got to keep playing the right way down the stretch.”
In addition to clinching the playoff birth, the Sharks jumped ahead of Detroit for second place in the Western Conference and that was not lost on the players.
Prior to the contest, McLellan noted how the club was working to improve there efforts while down a man. The message was well received as the Stars came up empty on three successive power plays in the middle stanza.
“It’s kind of been our soft spot the last couple of games,” Thornton said. “Our PK did an excellent job for us.”
“We worked on that yesterday,” Logan Couture
said. “We did a good job and it created momentum after we killed off those three. Hopefully tonight is a step in the right direction and we can continue that the next five games and into the playoffs.”
The group effort helped Niemi collect his sixth shutout of the season and he acknowledged how much the shorthanded play assisted his game.
“Today we were extra prepared and ready,” Niemi pointed out. “That was one of our top games of the year. I think we knew they were going to come for rebounds and our D played great in front of me.”
The statistics haven’t been what the club wanted this year, but the talent that was so successful in years past and on nights like tonight is still there.
“Statistically our PK has been pretty bad all year,” Boyle said. “I have a lot of confidence (in it) having been here the last two and a half years. I really do like the way it is most nights and tonight we played hard, blocked some shots and took care of business.”
The best goal of the night came from Ben Eager when he received a pass from Jamal Mayers, tucked it through his legs on the fly and lifted it home.
“It was unbelievable,” Logan Couture
observed. “I was shocked for a little while. I think I said wow about fifty times. He’s a skilled player even though he is a fourth line player. We see it sometimes in practice, he shows those flashes of skill. It was a great play. To think to bring it through is legs like that was pretty cool.”
Niemi was asked if had seen that move previously in a practice.
“No, I haven’t seen that,” Niemi laughed. “He’s been saving it.”
Couture used a bit of skill on his tally when he grabbed a puck out the air, quickly moved it where he wanted to and scored.
“I credit that to my baseball years when I was growing up,” Couture said. “I was a shortstop back home, but had to quit at 14. I always had the great glove and it came in there and I was able to throw it to my stick and put it in.”
EN FUEGO Patrick Marleau
pumped in his eighth goal in the last six games and continued his red hot play.
“Honestly, he looks like the best player in the world, he really does,” Thornton said of his linemate. “He’s just so powerful and he’s scoring. He gets in these grooves and he’s very, very hard to stop and he’s easy for me and Seto to play with. We just want to keep up with him.”
Marleau posted a club record 12 shots, but wasn’t aware of the number until Thornton noticed it.
“I didn’t realize it until later one. We were sitting on the bench and Jumbo looked up and said, ‘You’ve got 12 shots,’ and I said I guess so,” Marleau laughed.
With his spin-o-rama assist on Dan Boyle
’s goal, Joe Pavelski
ran his point streak to eight games (5-11=16).
CLOSING INJoe Thornton
is now three points away from hitting 1,000 for his career.
Thirteen different players posted a point on the night.
San Jose set a new season high in shots on goal with 52.
SHARKS HEAD COACH TODD MCLELLAN
“We were a little concerned coming off the four day layoff, but I think we came out and were obviously energized and the guys used the four days to their advantage.”
“That fourth line really played well for us tonight, it’s always a physical game against Dallas. There is a lot of board work and net play that goes on and they are built for that. To see Ben Eager and Jammer get rewarded with points was nice.”
“Patty has probably been his most consistent. In the past he has played some tremendous games but maybe has not put as many together, but he’s got it going right now.”
STARS HEAD COACH MARC CRAWFORD
“We played a first period that had lots of battle in it. But it didn’t seem like we were able to match them in the 2nd and 3rd. They looked like a lot fresher club than we did.”
“No excuses for us. We got beat and we got beat soundly tonight.”
“We’ve played terrific defense for the last month and that was a bad game for us. Especially the last two periods.”
San Jose will host Anaheim Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.