SAN JOSE – The Sharks knew Monday night's game against the Devils wasn't going to be easy. Even though New Jersey was entering the contest on the tail end of a back-to-back – and off a 6-5 shootout loss to Anaheim, at that – a second straight win would be no easy task.
"This is known as a trap game," Logan Couture said afterward.
He isn't wrong. San Jose's schedule through the first third of the season has been grueling, and the plethora of road back-to-backs they've logged set them up to face adversity when the Devils came to town. Even though they would be playing on home ice, the miles they logged over the last few weeks set up a tough test against a struggling Devils squad.
Nevertheless, the Sharks found a way to grind out a 5-2 victory, giving them four wins in their last five games. It may only be a start, but they hope they are building positive momentum.
"I feel like we're playing better," Couture continued. "Tough stretch in that Dallas game aside, we could be on a good streak right now. We'll stick with this and move on to Thursday."
The Sharks could've been in deep trouble early in Monday's contest, after they failed to register a shot on goal through the first 10 minutes. Then, they surrendered the first goal just a couple minutes later.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer knew his team could've been at the mercy of New Jersey taking over the pace of the game at that point. But, instead of letting the Devils take control, the Sharks rallied behind Timo Meier's game-tying marker off the rush and never looked back.
"Obviously, that could have led to a downturn and it didn't," DeBoer acknowledged. "We just kept working. It was a good effort tonight. I think our guys weren't feeling 100 percent and we found a way to put in 60 minutes of work and get a win."
Another big boost came from a better all-around defensive effort – something the Sharks have been saying they want to be better at for most of the early season. The stronger effort helped create offensive chances off the rush, helping to set up both of Timo Meier's goals on the evening.
"I think our attention to detail tonight for sure was in a real good place defensively," the coach complimented. "Our offense starts in our own end of the ice, with our breakouts or with our defensive coverage. It always leads to offense going the other way."
Now, of course, the Sharks have to continue that pattern. They have two days before they host the Dallas Stars, a squad that has already beaten San Jose twice this year.
Carrying over all the little things they did right on Monday evening could be huge for the Sharks.
"I didn't think we gave them a lot," DeBoer said. "Hopefully we can make that part of our DNA here."