Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — Heading into Saturday night, the Sharks were not only on a five-game win streak, but had also beat the Minnesota Wild in San Jose in every meeting since Dec. 6, 2011.
But it took goals from Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau — both playing with freshly-extended contracts — to boost the Sharks to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory in overtime.
What made the win more miraculous was the shift in momentum in the second period, after the Sharks fell behind by two goals. Head coach Todd McLellan told the media afterwards:
“We had to shuffle some lines and play guys in different roles. Just to wake everybody up. We have to be aware of this as a team. We can’t fall into a trap where we are sleepy, lazy, nonchalant, just because we are at home. Teams are competing hard and we have to match that.”
The Wild got on the scoreboard first when Matt Cooke took advantage of a bad pass by San Jose in the neutral zone. His wrist shot beat Antti Niemi to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
San Jose’s troubles carried into the second stanza, and poor puck handling by Niemi allowed Minnesota’s Keith Ballard to notch his first goal of the season and put the Sharks in the hole 2-0.
Leave it to the Sharks’ top line to switch the momentum and get the home team on the board.
With less than half of the second period gone and the puck in Minnesota territory, Matt Irwin wrapped the puck around the Wild’s net and into Joe Pavelski’s possession.
Rather than score on his own, No. 8 fed the puck to Thornton for a tip past backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper, cutting Minnesota’s lead down 2-1.
Quite the switch, since Thornton has been the one assisting Pavelski as of late. The captain joked after the game:
“I’ve been telling Pavs ‘You’ve been scoring too much, you have to pass the puck more.'”
San Jose’s second line added to the offensive push, and Marleau converted on a shot by Tommy Wingels to knot the game at 2-2. Irwin tallied his second assist of the night on the tying goal.
Irwin said afterwards of the second stanza push:
“As a group, we realized we had to get going. We had to get back to what makes us successful. We are fortunate enough to get two goals to tie it up, and that gave us a chance in the third period.”
Unable to score a go-ahead goal in the third, teams headed into overtime play. With 1:30 left in overtime, Pavelski fed the puck to Thornton once again, and Number 19 lined the puck high above Kuemper’s right shoulder for the game-winning goal.
The Sharks have the opportunity to extend their current winning streak to seven games as their homestand continues Monday against the rival LA Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Sharks improved to 28-15-2-5 all-time against the Minnesota Wild. … The Sharks are 49-6-1 when Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton both score goals in the same game [Credit: Elias Sports]. … Joe Pavelski had a pair of assists, extending his point streak to five games. … In 36 career games against Minnesota, Joe Thornton has registered 33 points. It was also his first multi-goal game since he scored a pair of goals against Columbus on Jan 31., 2012 in a 6-0 victory.