Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — Following an ugly loss in Los Angeles and news that dominant rookie Tomas Hertl would be out at least a month with a knee injury, the San Jose Sharks needed a big push to come up victorious on Saturday night.
With their top lines shuffled and backup goaltender Alex Stalock between the pipes — in his first home start of the season, no less — the Sharks bounced back from a slow start to notch a 3-2 shootout victory.
Joe Pavelski, who scored the tying goal late in the game, explained to the media the importance of getting the win:
“We needed a win. We have been up and down, now we need to build on this. We haven’t been good on the road. We needed some points.”
No easy feat, given that San Jose had to dig out of a two-goal hole late in the game. Head coach Todd McLellan shared his take on his team’s performance:
“I didn’t think we played with the energy that we normally play with. We were on top of them for small segments, then one and out. We never had a pattern of shooting and then getting it back and re-attacking the net.”
The big star of the evening was no doubt Stalock, with his first home win of the season and first career win in the shootout. But when asked afterwards about his many quick blocks and glove snatches that resulted in 44 saves on the evening, Stalock answered:
“Any goalie will tell you, that more shots make it easier for you to get comfortable in the net.”
Stars winger and original Shark Ray Whitney drew first blood with a backhanded shot that past high above Stalock’s left shoulder, putting the visitors on the board 1-0.
Dallas’s next goal came in the second period when Alex Goligoski’s shot through traffic deflected off of a skate and grazed Stalock’s right shin pad as it went into the back of the net. Antoine Roussel got credit for the goal and the Stars took a 2-0 lead.
San Jose’s offense picked up the pace after being put in the two-goal hole. A turnover in the Stars’ zone allowed Jason Demers to line a one-timer into the back of the net to close the score to 2-1. It was Demers’ first goal of the year; Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins registered assists.
Joe Pavelski tied things up in the third with a backhanded shot that past Lehtonen at eye level. The crowd erupted as the Sharks tied things up 2-2.
Stalock stood his ground, turning away 44 shots on the night as he prevented the Stars from breaking the tie. But Lehtonen’s 36 saves kept the Sharks from capitalizing as well, taking the tilt into — and and out of — four-on-four overtime.
Captain Joe Thornton notched the lone shootout goal to solidify the Sharks victory.
Demers said post game of the collective effort of the team in the win:
“It was huge, especially coming back… It shows a lot of character for our room, especially the way it’s been going for us lately. I think the guys came together nicely.”
The San Jose Sharks have another chance at a home win Monday, December 23 against the Colorado Avalanche. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Six of the last 11 Sharks home games have gone to the shootout. … With his 14th goal of the season Saturday night, Joe Pavelski now has five goals in his last six games. … Jason Demers scored his first goal of the 2013-2014 season. He now has 13 points (1 goal, 12 assists) and is ranked third on the Sharks blueline. … Joe Thornton has now converted two of two shootout attempts this season. He also tallied his 32nd assist on the season on Pavelski’s goal, ranking him tied for third league-wide in assists.