EDMONTON – This is why the Sharks got James Reimer.
Playing in the second of a back-to-back after workhorse starter Martin Jones had to make 47 saves in Calgary Monday, Reimer stopped all 31 shots he saw off of Edmonton Oilers sticks in a 3-0 Sharks win. His first shutout since Oct. 29, 2013 – also in Edmonton – allowed San Jose to creep closer to the top of the Pacific Division on a night that the Ducks and Kings were both idle.
“That’s exactly what we needed,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’re in a back-to-back situation, you know you’re going to have to make a few saves on the road, and he did that for us.”
In two games with the Sharks, Reimer has yet to allow an even strength goal. The Canucks beat him last Saturday, 4-2, on three power play goals and an empty-netter.
On Tuesday in Edmonton, Reimer admitted he was more comfortable with his new teammates. It showed, especially in the third period.
“Being the second game you kind of know tendencies more and how they play, and how we react to different situations. You can know where you need to be,” Reimer said. “So, yeah, it was a little more comfortable this time around. I just tried to do my job, and I thought they battled incredibly hard, especially being the second game in two nights.”
What also helped settle some nerves is that the Sharks got the first two goals in the first period. Both came from Logan Couture, who pounced on his own loose rebound in the crease just 1:33 into the game, and unleashed a filthy wrist shot from the top of the circle on a Sharks power play at 15:50.
“I think when your team scores those goals you obviously feel better,” Reimer said.
Couture ended a personal seven-game goal drought, and now has 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games.
DeBoer commented recently that his frequent line mixing and matching in the past few weeks was intended to help jolt the club during what he referred to as the “dog days” of an 82-game schedule. Against the Oilers, he plopped Couture between Joonas Donskoi and Matt Nieto on the second line, after San Jose struggled top to bottom the night before in Calgary.
Did it have the desired effect?
“I think so,” Couture said. “[Joe Thornton’s] line obviously stayed the same, but they’ve produced a lot. The other lines haven’t. We’ve had some good nights, and nights where we haven’t [produced]. Every once in awhile you need that spark.”
The Sharks also managed to stay out of the penalty box, after they were shorthanded seven times in each of the last two games, allowing four total power play goals in the process.
Although they didn’t exactly have their A-game for the entire 60 minutes, playing the lowly Oilers five-on-five for most of the night proved to be productive.
“That’s big. We were a solid team five-on-five,” said Joe Pavelski, whose second period goal upped the Sharks’ lead to 3-0. “Stayed out of the box, kept our rhythm a lot better tonight. It was just a good road game, especially on a back-to-back night.”
“Staying out of the box, but I think we looked at the symptoms of why we were in the box,” DeBoer said. “We were in the box because we weren’t on the inside, we were on the outside of the play, we were reaching, we were pulling on people. Tonight we were inside most of the night, and I think that made all the difference.”
So did the goaltender, for the second straight night.
“We got great goaltending from Reims when we needed it, and it was a tidy game from my perspective,” DeBoer said.