An unexpected scratch led to a pair of unexpected contributors on Tuesday night in the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Montreal.
Dainius Zubrus, filling in on the top line with Tomas Hertl unable to play, scored midway through regulation. His first goal in a Sharks uniform, assisted by Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, gave the team an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Barclay Goodrow, who drew into Zubrus’ place on the fourth line, threw a key and somewhat controversial hit on P.K. Subban in the first period, seemingly changing the momentum after the Sharks were getting badly outplayed for most of the opening frame.
The result was the Sharks ending a miserable six-game losing streak, and starting an important five-game road trip with a win over one of the better teams in the NHL, even if the Canadiens were missing their top goalie and defending Hart Trophy winner Carey Price.
“Got a real team effort from everybody,” coach Pete DeBoer told reporters after the game. “We were a little short-staffed here tonight. Hertl went down just before the game, [Logan] Couture is out, a couple other guys. But, we dug deep and found a way, which we haven’t been lately, so that was important.”
DeBoer said that Hertl “tweaked something” in an earlier Sharks game, but it “flared up” after the morning skate. He’s day-to-day.
Goodrow was recalled from the AHL just prior to the team’s flight, after spending the previous month-and-a-half with the Barracuda. After having very little impact in the 12 games he played before the demotion, the big forward may have realized he has to find some sort of an identity to remain with the NHL club. The six-foot-two, 215-pounder has the size to be a gritty, agitating forward that’s difficult to play against.
When he hammered Subban behind the net on a play some may have viewed as a check from behind, the Sharks were getting outshot 10-2 with less than four minutes to go in the first. He dropped the gloves with Torrey Mitchell right after that.
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds later when Joel Ward fed Patrick Marleau on a two-on-one.
“Goodie did a great job jumping in there. Good hit, big fight. That’s what we want from guys,” Justin Braun, who had two assists, told reporters. “I know that’s good to see on my end.”
DeBoer said: “It was a message that we’re physically involved, and we’re here to play. Obviously on their best player, and got in a scrap after. [Goodrow] gave us some real good minutes tonight, and some energy.”
The game wasn’t the prettiest effort from the Sharks, who managed just six shots over the final 30 minutes, and were outshot 27-18 for the game. It was eerily similar to the first game of their six-game road sweep last month, when they got by Detroit, 3-2, despite getting outshot 28-14 by the Red Wings.
Martin Jones, though, continued to play much better on the road than he has at SAP Center. The goalie made 26 stops, including some stellar ones on Nathan Beaulieu and Tomas Plekanec in the third period, and is 10-3-1 away from home. He has a 1.91 goals-against average and .932 save percentage on the road, but a 2.70 GAA and .903 SP at home.
Right now, though, the Sharks will take wins any way and anywhere they can get them. They managed to jump back up into second place in the putrid Pacific Division, although they remain close with every other club other than the first place Kings.
“It’s an important win for us the way we’ve been playing,” Jones told CSN California. “We want to prove that we can play with the top teams and win, so tonight was a big game, for sure.”
Braun said: “The Pacific is getting a little bunched up. We’ve got to get some points and get rolling again. It’s tough losing that many in a row, but we just have to get going the other way and get that many wins.”