SAN JOSE – The Sharks knew they had a tough task at hand with the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town on Tuesday.
"We've played a lot of good teams lately, and these guys coming into town, they're playing as good as anyone right now," captain Joe Pavelski said the morning before the game.
But that didn't stop San Jose from getting the jump on the visitors and never letting up, skating away with a 5-2 and their seventh straight victory.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's contest:
The hot start that never cooled off
If the Sharks were going to compete with the red-hot Pens, they were going to have to have a stronger start than they did on Saturday against the struggling Ottawa Senators. They did just that, taking over the pace of the game even though Pittsburgh got on the scoreboard first.
San Jose got better as the game went on, completely taking over the pace of the game in the second period. The Sharks outshot the Pens 15-8 and absolutely smothered Pittsburgh's lone power-play attempt in the middle frame. One the few chances Pittsburgh was able to generate, goaltender Martin Jones came up big.
The Sharks and their fans were undoubtedly ecstatic winger Joonas Donskoi was able to play on Tuesday, given how well he, Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl have been playing as of late. Right from their first shift of the game, that line had jump. They looked like they had the puck in Pittsburgh territory every time they were on the ice – which probably accounts for why Hertl tallied his second career hat trick on the evening.
But, they weren't the only line generating offense. Joe Thornton's line – more on him in just a bit – with Joe Pavelski and Marcus Sorensen had a strong showing, with all three getting on the scoresheet. Plus, defensive pair extraordinaire Erik Karlsson and Brenden Dillon helped set up a couple plays that ended up in the back of Pittsburgh's net.
Big night for No. 19
This season has featured many milestones for Thornton. He made Tuesday night's game against Pittsburgh, his 1,000th contest with the Sharks, extra memorable. In addition to becoming just the fourth NHLer to appear with 1,000-plus games with the same team after being traded, he joined former teammate Patrick Marleau in tallying a goal on his 1,000th game as a Shark.
Considering Thornton was sidelined at the start of the season after experiencing swelling in his surgically-repaired knee, Tuesday's game was a nice indicator of how hard he has worked to keep making an impact night in and night out.