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SAN JOSE – It was a nightmare start for Sharks defenseman Justin Braun on Thursday against Boston.
Just half a minute into the game, Braun lost track of Reilly Smith in front of the net, and the Bruins forward easily put in a pass from Patrice Bergeron to give the visitors an early lead.
On his next shift Braun couldn’t keep a puck in at the offensive blue line, allowing the Bruins to race the other way. Daniel Paille drew Braun’s attention to the high slot, leaving Gregory Campbell wide open in front of the net for another tap-in at 2:35.
That burst could have been enough for Boston, one of the tighter defensive teams in the NHL playing in front of 2014 Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask. Instead, the Sharks regrouped and controlled the majority of the rest of the game in winning the final match of their homestand, 7-4. It was their third straight win, all in regulation – a season first.
[REWIND: Sharks finally feeling home love again]
“Guys bailed me out, and I think I might have to pick up dinner here for a few of them,” Braun said after the game.
The 27-year-old defenseman, who signed a five-year, $19 million contract extension in the offseason, rarely makes those kinds mistakes anymore, as he’s become a vital part of the top pair with Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Still, he needed some reassurances from the bench after he cost the team early.
“He knows the mistakes he's made. We have 58 minutes left to play, and he's important,” Todd McLellan said. “So, we've got to try and build him up in that situation a little bit, make sure that he knows that we still believe in him and that he has an important night ahead of him. He's a veteran that responded better, but we'd like him to have a better start."
Braun said: “You try and put it behind you, but it’s tough with two. You just try and get back to a simple game. That’s what people always talk about. A start like that you want to make as simple as possible. Pick up sticks, get the puck out of the zone, and get a change.”
Tommy Wingels scored two goals in the win, including one on the power play, and gave Braun credit for settling back down after what happened early.
“He's a huge part of this team and I think as you saw, he put those couple shifts behind him and he was his usual self after that. And we needed that,” Wingels said. “If he would have sulked, or pouted on a couple more shifts, I don't think we win that game. It was big on him to respond and get back to the way he's capable of playing.”