VANCOUVER –- It’s never an optimal situation when a head coach has to shuffle his lines and power play units in order to start generating offense.
It sure is nice when it works out, though.
Brent Burns scored the game-tying goal in the third period on a power play after Tomas Hertl replaced Patrick Marleau on the top unit, and Marleau got the game-winner a little later after he was bumped up to the second line, as the Sharks fought back to win at Rogers Arena in Vancouver for the second time in a week, 3-2 on Thursday.
“Guys play their game and know the system. It’s pretty interchangeable,” Marleau said. “Obviously you want to get into a groove with certain lines so you don’t have to do that, but [coach Pete DeBoer] is not afraid of changing things up when he sees fit to.”
Burns’ goal, his 22nd of the year leading all NHL defensemen, knotted the score at 2-2 just 43 seconds into the final frame. Hertl won the faceoff after Joe Thornton was kicked out of the circle.
Burns’ low wrist shot snuck inside the post, erasing what had been a 2-0 hole for the Sharks at the end of a first period in which they were severely outplayed.
“I didn’t expect to [take] the faceoff,” Hertl said. “I tried to just win [it], and I was so happy Burnzie made a great shot.”
“That was a huge one,” DeBoer said. “The guy who we stuck in there on the change won a big draw, Tomas Hertl. That created the goal.”
Prior to that score, the Sharks’ power play was having a miserable night. It had generated just one shot on goal through the first three-and-a-half advantages, but there was still about a minute remaining on a high-sticking minor to Daniel Sedin late in the second period that carried over. Burns made the second shot count.
Joe Pavelski said: “We had opportunities, we just didn’t execute. That was on us, it wasn’t something they were doing. Our compete level needed to go a little higher. [Hertl] steps in and wins a faceoff, and we get a goal.”
Marleau, who began the night as the third line center between Joel Ward and Matt Nieto, credited second-liners Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi for helping create his game-winner at 5:29 after he replaced Nick Spaling.
“It was a great pass by Donskoi. [Couture] getting it up to him was good, too,” Marleau said. “[Donskoi] was able to make a nice, flat pass over to me.”
Just prior to that goal, Martin Jones made the biggest of his 28 saves. Derek Dorsett came streaking in on a breakaway, but his attempt was flicked away by the Sharks’ goaltender, who was making his 10th straight start.
“Just trying to stay patient with him,” Jones said of Dorsett. “I thought he was going to shoot it. Just able to get an arm on it.”
DeBoer said: “The breakaway in the third period, that’s game changing.”
For the fifth time this season, the Sharks were able to erase a deficit after two periods and win on the road. Their awful first period was concerning, but as they’ve shown for much of the season, there isn’t much quit in this San Jose club that is still pushing for a Pacific Division title. The Sharks remain four points behind the Kings and Ducks, who both won on Thursday, with 19 games left.
Even if it takes a little rearranging from DeBoer, they figure they can deal with any sort of in-game adversity.
Marleau said: “We’ve done it a few times now, so we know we can do it. You don’t want to be toying with it all that many times, but if we play a certain way we know we’re going to get our chances. It’s just a matter of burying those chances, and sticking with it.”
“We don’t think we’re out of any game the way we play,” Jones said.