SAN JOSE – It wasn’t a promising start for the Sharks on Thursday night against Anaheim, and that was especially true for the third line.
Less than five minutes into the first period, Andrew Cogliano scored just after Tomas Hertl turned the puck over to Rickard Rackell on the wall. Considering the NHL-leading Ducks were 23-0-5 when scoring first, and the Sharks seemed a little flat-footed in their first game after the All-Star break, there was reason to think the Sharks could be in for a long night.
They weren’t, and the trio of Hertl, James Sheppard and Barclay Goodrow was the Sharks’ most productive line in a 6-3 win. Sheppard and Goodrow each had one goal and one assist, while Hertl contributed a pair of helpers.
[RECAP: Sharks explode in second, beat Ducks 6-3]
“The first goal-against was against their line, and I think that kind of jolted them into  minutes of good hockey after that,” Todd McLellan said. “Effective offensively, defensively, in the circle, power play. … A good night for the three of them.”
Goodrow said: “We didn’t have the start we wanted as a line, but I think we picked it up midway through the first and kind of carried it through the rest of the game.”
Goodrow’s goal at 2:15 of the second period – the first of five for the home team – gave the Sharks the lead for good, breaking a 1-1 tie. It was the rookie’s third goal in 32 games.
Sheppard’s marker came later in the second at 14:30 when Hertl drove the net, allowing him room to operate in the high slot and beat Ilya Bryzgalov. It was his first goal in 16 games, and just second in the last 34.
Along with rare goals from defensemen Matt Irwin, his first since Oct. 14, and Brenden Dillon, his second in 47 games, the Sharks got some much needed contributions from players that don’t typically find the scoresheet.
That’s important for the final two-and-a-half months.
“Those are all guys that haven’t really put the puck in the net lately and to get the monkey off their backs is a big thing,” McLellan said.
Sheppard said: “Our whole team was into that game. Nice to see a lot of guys get points, and it was nice to see us take control of that game and come out with the win.”
Special teams was also a factor, as it has been throughout the season series, which concluded with the Sharks capturing nine of a possible 10 points (4-0-1). San Jose scored at least one power play goal in all five games, and seven total. Five came from Joe Pavelski, including a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play in the first period that tied the score.
[RELATED: Emotion, special teams have keyed Sharks' success vs. Ducks]
The Ducks took four minor penalties in the first 27 minutes, compared to just one by San Jose.
“The start could have been a little better in certain parts, but special teams got us going,” Pavelski said.
McLellan said: “They got the lead and I thought they controlled a bit of the game early, until we went on the power play. That allowed us to score and regain some momentum in the game. The power play has been a big difference in the series, in my opinion, and the number of times we had the opportunity to go to the power play, as well.”
[KURZ: Sharks on playoff bubble as second half begins]
The win allowed the Sharks to bookend the All-Star break with a pair of encouraging performances, including a 4-2 triumph over the Kings on Jan. 21. Their engines will have to keep revving as the stretch run is now officially underway.
“Really good way to start the second half,” McLellan said.