The Sharks didn’t exactly end the 2018 portion of their current campaign on a high note. But boy, did they rebound and make things interesting in their first contest of 2019.
The Colorado Avalanche tried their best to make a comeback late in the game, but San Jose's strong second period provided enough cushion they needed to hang on for a 5-4 win.
Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s game:
Second-period response: The Sharks might’ve had a 2-1 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t, however, the most dominant period of hockey they’ve played all season. The Avs were outshooting them 11-7 overall, and 9-2 at even strength. San Jose was clearly going to need to take over the pace of the game in order to keep a desperate Colorado team from snapping a five-game losing streak.
They did just that in the second stanza. Both of Evander Kane and Lukas Radil’s goals exemplified the Sharks' ability to keep plays alive, and take advantage of chances. Joonas Donskoi’s goal was a thing of beauty, as he buried a wraparound for his fourth goal in three games.
The power play arrived: The Sharks weren't happy with their power play recently, especially in crucial moments. On Wednesday, it helped San Jose get a much-needed boost in a first period where the Colorado had the upper hand. Without the two power-play goals in the first frame, the Sharks may not have been able to skate into the first intermission with the lead.
Meanwhile, San Jose’s penalty kill looked like its usual dominant self, until Colorado cut the lead to 5-4 with just 3:11 remaining. Letting in the late power-play goal is something the Sharks need to avoid, whether it’s against a struggling team like the Avalanche or an elite team like the one they face next.
They didn’t get frustrated in the face of adversity: The Sharks were already going into Wednesday’s game on a bit of an emotional note after defenseman Radim Simek was concussed against the Calgary Flames on New Year's Eve. Things got even worrisome when fellow d-man Justin Braun sustained some kind of leg injury in the first period on Wednesday. Instead of getting frustrated and making mistakes, San Jose used that edge to their advantage and played a tighter defensive game overall.
This is the type of response you want to see the Sharks have when the opposition is pushing. San Jose has some very tough competition coming up at home, starting this weekend against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are a deep team that thrives off frustrating teams, and if the Sharks can play a tight, disciplined game like they did on Wednesday in Colorado, they’ll have a better chance of winning.