Afternoon games haven't been kind to the Sharks this season, but they found a way to buck that trend on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings. While San Jose still looked a bit "fugly" at the start of the contest, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns helped the Sharks overcome a two-goal deficit in the second period and skate away with a 5-3 win.
Here are three takeaways from the Sunday matinee:
Credit to the Crazy 8s
Yes, it took San Jose a while to get going on Sunday. But when Pavelski got a little vocal out on the ice, you could tell he was going to lead the team's push back. After Burns' wrister off the faceoff cut Detroit's lead to 3-2, Pavelski notched two quick and difficult tallies to turn the tide. He scored a power-play goal from his knees, and then redirected a shot into the top shelf of Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier's net.
Then, of course, he sealed the natural hat trick with an empty-netter late in the third.
Burns grinded while the Sharks were down, trying to pick the team up when they got into the two-goal hole. Even though Burns had to shoulder a bigger workload with fellow All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson sidelined, he still registered a multi-point game and managed a feat no blue-liner has in 25 years.
Per @PR_NHL, with his goal and assist in today's game, San Jose's 63rd of the season, #SJSharks Brent Burns becomes the first NHL d-man to score 70 points in fewer than 65 games since Ray Bourque in 1993-94. #SJSvsDET #NHLStats— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) February 24, 2019
No wonder his name is getting more and more traction in Norris Trophy discussions.
Dell did his part
There has been so much talk recently about whether the Sharks need to improve their goaltending ahead of the trade deadline. Not surprisingly, it picked up after the Sharks' last couple of losses. Amidst all that, Aaron Dell was solid and kept San Jose in the game on Sunday.
Dell made some key saves to keep the Wings from running away with it, notably when he froze Luke Glendening in the opening frame. He then denied Dylan Larkin with less that nine minutes left in regulation on a chance that could have tied the game up.
Dell didn't have a lot of help early on, and he had a few saves to limit Detroit's damage -- even if you'd rather see him allow fewer than three goals.
On a similar note …
What happened to team defense in the first half of the game?
San Jose really prides itself on having strong team defense, and breaking up the opposition's big offensive pushes. Thursday's shutout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was a perfect example.
But like their loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets a day prior, San Jose struggled getting out of its own zone on Sunday, and couldn't disrupt Detroit's drives up the ice at times.
The Sharks did look better at the start of the second period, generating more chances and getting more offensive-zone time – as the shot clock certainly showed that. But, the Red Wings capitalized on a delayed penalty with an extra skater on the ice to put the Sharks in the 3-1 hole.
While San Jose made a comeback, coach Peter DeBoer would undoubtedly prefer a sharper start.