Strong Special Teams
While their 5-on-5 performed adequately, the San Jose Sharks performance on the power play and penalty kill excelled over the three-game stretch of the road trip.
The Sharks did not allow a single goal down a man on seven combined occasions to the Predators, Hurricanes and Ducks, which raised their PK efficiency rating to 85.4% for 8th-best in the league. As the strongest fore-checking duo, Hertl and Couture forced solid pressure as the top penalty-killing forwards with a well-balanced defensive core down low.
Speaking of defense, Dillon surprisingly rushed down the ice Bobby Orr style on the penalty kill and fired home a short-handed goal in the game against the Predators. Dillon’s first of the season sparked the critical comeback.
Less than a minute later, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski tied it up, before Burns roofed a lethal one-timer on the power play to secure the 5-4 victory over Nashville. With Dillon’s goal, the Sharks have four short-handed goals this season, which ranks second in the league, behind Arizona.
On the man-advantage, the Sharks racked up four goals on eight opportunities, including two PP markers from their leading goal scorer Timo Meier.
Before the road trip, the San Jose Sharks had just 5 power play goals in 8 games. The Sharks nearly doubled that total with four in a span of three games.
The recent success can be attributed to the utilization of their two most lethal weapons quarterbacking the powerplay: Burns and Karlsson. Burns, who leads the Sharks with six points on the man-advantage, anchors the top unit with a cannon from the point. When the second power play unit comes on, Burns stays on and Karlsson joins him as two wonderful options to whistle one-timers to the back of the net.
With the Sharks sudden success at lighting the lamp on the power play, they’ve raised their PP% to 23.1, which ranks 14th in the NHL. To add on, San Jose now has six PP goals on the road, which is tied for second with the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings.
The Sharks seek to carry this successful special teams play from the three-game road trip into the loud and proud teal fan base for the upcoming series of important home games.