EDMONTON – Mikkel Boedker and Pete DeBoer may never get on the same page regarding the forward's removal from the lineup two games ago. Boedker didn't agree that he "took his foot off the gas," as the coach said, yet DeBoer used the phrase for a second time immediately after Boedker's starring role in the Sharks' 5-3 win over Edmonton at Rogers Place on Tuesday night.
That difference of opinion is, essentially, not important. What is, though, is that Boedker starts producing more offensively after signing a four-year, $16 million contract with San Jose in the offseason.
In that regard, he's showing signs of life. Boedker scored three goals against the Oilers, including the game-winner in the second period, responding from being a healthy scratch against Minnesota last Thursday. He also got a goal on Saturday against Detroit.
Getting another goal so soon, on his first shift of the night in Edmonton, allowed him to skate with less of a weight on his shoulders for the rest of the evening. His next two scores came in the second period, increasing San Jose's lead to 4-1.
"When you score your first shift, you're going to feel good the whole game," Boedker said. "They came my way today, and it was three good goals."
DeBoer, who was pleased with Boedker's play just before the Christmas break but not so much in the week after, called the winger's performance, "Huge. That's what we need from him."
Boedker spent most of his first eight seasons in the NHL with Arizona, and was given some rope by the coaching staff early in the season to get used to the Sharks' systems and style. Despite playing in a top six position for 22 of the first 38 games, he wasn't doing much of anything. Far too often, he didn't appear as if was playing all that hard, making soft plays with the puck and getting pushed around on the wall and in the corners.
Still, Pavelski indicated after Tuesday's game that Boedker has fit in well with the group, and said it was good to see him finally have what they all hope is a breakout performance.
"He's such a good teammate and such a solid person. There were some games where maybe he played harder than others, or not – it doesn't really matter," Pavelski said. "You understand a guy with that kind of character, he was going to come out and he was going to play."
"To see him out the last couple games find a little bit of momentum, a little flow to his game, it was good to see the puck go in for him."
The puck has been going in frequently for the Sharks as a team, with 15 goals in their last three games. Although they still look a bit loose defensively of late, and goalie Martin Jones has surrendered 16 goals over his last five games, the Sharks are showing that they still have what it takes to run up the score. And that's with no support from the power play, which is 0-for-8 in the last four games.
About time you start getting some consistent offense, Pete?
"I think it is about time," the coach agreed. "We've been generating chances all year, we just haven't had a lot of luck around the net. Hasn't been bouncing for us. Hopefully, it's a sign of good things to come here in the second half."
Although the offense was lively again, Tuesday's game wasn't exactly perfect. Leading 4-1 after two periods, the Oilers came out hard to start the third period and quickly got back into it with a pair of goals.
DeBoer, though, learned a lesson from last Thursday's game against the Wild, when Minnesota reeled off four straight scores to win 5-4 in regulation after trailing 4-2 earlier in the final frame. The Sharks' coach admitted afterward that he should have used his timeout to try and change the momentum in that deflating defeat.
He did this time, and the Sharks went back up by two goals on Logan Couture's breakaway score just one minute and 21 seconds after DeBoer huddled his team around the bench.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who returned after a four-game absence with a facial injury, said: "They had momentum, they scored two goals, they could have easily had a third one to tie the game. I thought [DeBoer] used [the timeout] really well to let it kind of die down."
The Sharks will attempt to stay hot offensively against the Flames on Wednesday, as the start of the second half officially begins. Perhaps Boedker can lead the way again.
"He's in for a big second half," DeBoer said. "We need him."
Boedker said: "Just [have to] make sure that I do the things that I'm relied on to do, and relied on from the other guys to do."
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Defenseman Dylan DeMelo did not play after leaving the game in the second period. It sounds like he'll miss some time after getting an apparent slash in the wrist area from Zack Kassian.
"It doesn't look too promising," DeBoer said. "He won't play [Wednesday], and we'll get back and get some pictures of it when we get home."
"I think it was a fluky kind of play. It wasn't anything dirty, from what I understand."