SAN JOSE -- The Sharks were well aware of the score when they went into the dressing room at the second intermission. They had a 2-1 lead, just like they had in the previous two tilts on the road against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. In both of those games, San Jose gave away the lead in the third frame on their way to losing both games.
On Thursday night, however, Team Teal came out buzzing against the Buffalo Sabres. They lit the lamp three times during that frame, easily having their best third period of the early 2018-19 campaign. And while converting on the power play and scoring more than two goals on the evening weres keys to the victory, having a strong third frame really solidified it.
"I thought it was probably our best period of the season so far," Sharks' head coach Peter DeBoer said after the 5-1 victory. "Playing with the lead in a 2-1 game and handling it that way."
The response certainly paid dividends. The Sharks' offense managed to hem the speedy Sabres in their own zone, and just shy of five minutes into the frame Logan Couture found the back of the net to give San Jose a much-needed 3-1 lead.
When asked after the game about getting the two-goal cushion, Couture called it the turning point of the game. Evander Kane agreed. "We wanted to make sure we're not going to be a team that lets third period leads slip away," Kane said. "I thought that third goal was really big."
DeBoer mentioned that a couple players did extra work to pump the team up during the second intermission, including Joe Pavelski. When asked what the conversation was like, the Sharks' captain said it came down to knowing the Sharks have to be a dominant third-period team.
"We've been in that position a time or two. We've given up leads, we haven't been as good," Pavelski said after the game. "These are periods that we have to be good. We've got to lock these down."
The strong finish no doubt gives the Sharks the confidence they need headed into Saturday night's tilt against the Islanders. The Isles blanked the Sharks in New York on October 8. Having a third period like San Jose surely gives them confidence headed into that game.
"It's been uncharacteristic of us to have poor third periods with the lead," DeBoer said. "We wanted to nip that in the bud, and I thought the guys did tonight. I thought the third was excellent."