San Jose Sharks Take Care Of Business Against Toronto


Mar 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; San Jose Sharks center Melker Karlsson (68) is congratulated by center Joe Pavelski (8) after scoring a goal in the second period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks have struggled against some of the NHL’s cellar dwellers this season, but on Thursday night, the Sharks cruised to a much-needed 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The victory leaves San Jose four points behind the final playoff spot in the Western Conference as the Sharks remain on the fringe of the race.

It was a strong effort from San Jose who came storming out of the gates in the first period, outshooting Toronto 21-8 during the first 20 minutes of play. Tomas Hertl would deposit the only goal of the period off a nice setup from Chris Tierney as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead into the intermission. The only downside for San Jose was they went 0-for-3 on the power play and couldn’t bury a second goal despite all the pressure.

However, it wouldn’t take the Sharks long to extend their lead as Logan Couture netted his 23rd goal of the year on the power play after a feed from Joe Thornton. The assist was Thornton’s 900th of his career, quite the accomplishment for someone who has taken the amount of criticism that Thornton has throughout his career.

Jake Gardiner would pull one back for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Sharks 14-10 during the second, to cut the deficit to 2-1. San Jose would respond, for one of the few times lately, with two goals to close out the period.

First, Melker Karlsson would score his 13th goal of the season, and second in the last three games, just 1:25 after the Gardiner goal. The dagger that would seal this game would come with six seconds remaining in the period when Matt Nieto’s shot from the slot deflected in off Tommy Wingels to give the Sharks a three-goal advantage heading into the final frame.

It was the kind of performance that was expected against one of the league’s worst teams, but it leaves one wondering why the Sharks couldn’t start this way against the Winnipeg Jets in a much bigger game.

A welcome sight for San Jose was contributions from a variety of forwards on the night. These next 11 games will be big for players such as Tierny, Hertl, Karlsson and Nieto who are still trying to develop at the NHL level. The more confidence they can gain from performances like this only helps the Sharks as they try to hold on to whatever playoff chances they may have, and also for next year when more will be expected from this group of players.

Overall, the Sharks came into Toronto and handled their business as they should have. Now, let’s see if they can duplicate this performance against a much tougher opponent when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

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