SAN JOSE — Coach Pete DeBoer expected a “dangerous game” from the Carolina Hurricanes, who delivered by slapping warning labels all over the first 40 minutes of Thursday’s game.
The Sharks coach believes the Hurricanes (11-11-5) are a “much better team than their record” and they lived up to expectations, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first and holding a 4-1 edge with 5:16 remaining in the second period.
But the Sharks (15-10-2) came back to tie the game with the help of four special teams goals.
Here’s what we learned as the Sharks picked up an unlikely 5-4 overtime win at the SAP Center Thursday.
1. Barclay Goodrow is capitalizing on every opportunity he receives.
After the Sharks morning practice, DeBoer preached about the importance of his young players making the most of every opportunity they receive, even if it’s just 10 minutes of ice time.
Among the young forwards competing for roster spots this season, no one has capitalized on his opportunities more than Barclay Goodrow.
The 24-year-old forward entered training camp caught behind Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen and Ryan Carpenter on the depth chart. He eventually landed a spot on the squad by coming into camp in as good of shape as anyone in the organization, giving DeBoer hard-scrappy minutes throughout the preseason.
After serving as a healthy scratch in 11 of the Sharks first 12 games, Goodrow received an unconventional opportunity on Nov. 4: fourth line center even though he hadn’t skated down the middle since minor hockey.
Nevertheless, Goodrow delivered, setting up the game-winning goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the third period.
Five games later, Goodrow suffered an upper-body injury that sidelined him for seven games, seemingly derailing his momentum.
But it didn’t.
Goodrow jumped on his next opportunity when he rejoined the lineup Dec. 2, scoring his first goal of the season. On Monday, he stuck up for Joe Thornton, getting into a fight with Alex Chiasson after the Washington Capitals initiated a scrap with the Sharks alternate captain.
He followed up his performance on the road trip by helping the Sharks come back from a three-goal deficit Thursday, tying the game at 4-4 by scoring a shorthanded goal on a breakaway in the middle of the third.
“That’s what guys have to do in order to stay in the lineup,” DeBoer said.
“If you put that list of (young) guys down on paper in training camp, he would have been near the bottom of it. He’s worked his way up, and he’s making it so you can’t take him out of the lineup. That’s what you want young guys to do.”
2. ‘One of those crazy nights’
On a night where the Hurricanes overwhelmed the Sharks with their speed and skill in five-on-five play, special teams answered the call, scoring an astonishing four goals in what DeBoer labeled a “wild night”.
“It was one of those crazy nights,” the Sharks coach said. “We’ll take it.”
In addition to Goodrow’s game-tying goal, Melker Karlsson scored a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one with Chris Tierney at 10:21 of the second to cut into a 3-0 lead.
The Sharks six shorthanded goals are tied for the most in the NHL and the penalty kill is ranked second (86.7 percent).
“It’s been exceptional all year. Not only does it help us win, but it grabs momentum for us, which is what you want your special teams to do,” DeBoer said.
The Sharks also got two goals from the power play, which went 1 for 7 during the team’s four-game road trip. Thornton fired in his fifth of the year on the man advantage at 17:51, giving the Sharks life by cutting the Hurricanes lead to 4-2.
Logan Couture also scored his team-leading 14th goal by going top shelf from the right circle at 8:31 of the third, setting the stage for Goodrow’s heroics later in the period.
The key to the power play’s resurgence after an unremarkable road trip?
Actually getting some chances. The Sharks drew just two power plays during the last three games of their road trip.
“Tonight we could finally get into a little bit of a rhythm, getting three power play chances,” Thornton said.
3. Paul Martin struggles in his return to action.
Martin received a challenging test in his first game since Oct. 7.
Getting re-acclimated to the speed of NHL hockey after spending two full months in the press box is always a tall order. Doing it against one of the league’s fastest teams must have been dizzying.
“People don’t realize how hard it is just to come back in general,” said Brent Burns, who scored the game-winning goal 22 seconds into overtime.
“His body looks pretty good right now. You get in good gym shape, you get to see some abs, but it doesn’t seem to matter when you get on the ice. It’s pretty tough.”
Martin got caught chasing the puck around on the Hurricanes third goal at 14:14 of the first and he got lost in no-man’s land on the Hurricanes fourth goal at 14:44 of the second. He finished the game with a 29.63 percent possession rating.
DeBoer eventually pulled the veteran defenseman off the ice at 5:45 of the third period, replacing him with Joakim Ryan on Burns’ pairing.
“It looked a little bit like his first game back, trying to get some of the rust off,” DeBoer said.