Late-season acquisitions make their mark vs. Stars

Late-season acquisitions make their mark vs. Stars
April 4, 2012, 4:08 pm
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DALLAS The Sharks late-season trades are starting to look a little bit better, after all.

Daniel Winnik, TJ Galiardi and Dominic Moore all played a major role in San Joses biggest win of the season, 5-2 over Dallas on Tuesday night. Winnik and Galiardi scored goals, with Galiardis coming after some shifty moves behind the net by Moore just before a pass in front.

For Galiardi, it was his first point in a Sharks uniform in 12 games since being acquired, along with Winnik, from Colorado at the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

Its been ridiculous how long its taken but its been coming for awhile, said the affable fourth-line winger, who missed six games with a presumed back injury last month. Weve had our chances; I think the thinking is you should be worried when youre not getting your chances. Its been a long time coming, but its nice, and this is a good time to start producing.

It may have been the biggest goal of the game, too. Dallas had just taken its first lead of the game, 2-1, about half a minute earlier on a blast by defenseman Alex Goligoski midway through the second. But the fourth line came out on the next shift, and promptly re-tied it.

It was a reversal of fortunes a bit for the Sharks, who were having a problem surrendering goals on the next shift after they had scored one themselves during their struggles in early March. At one point, it happened a total of five times in just nine games for San Jose.

They go out and win a draw, play in the other teams end, and get a big goal, Todd McLellan said of his fourth-liners. They give us valuable minutes, energetic minutes, hard checking minutes, and ended up rewarding themselves with a goal.

Moore said: Hockey is a game of momentum, and you want to push back when you have a chance to do so.

Couture contributes: At Tuesdays morning skate when I mentioned to Logan Couture that he hadnt scored in 10 games, the All-Star appeared to be caught off-guard a bit.

I didnt know it was 10 games without a goal, so weve got to change that, he said.

Change it, he did. Coutures redirection of Marty Havlats tape-to-tape pass on the power play from the high slot turned out to be the game-winner. For the team-oriented Couture, he was happy to break his personal scoring slump.

You want to contribute offensively. It feels good to score goals, he said. You ask anyone in this room, you come to the rink to score every night. Its nice to get one and help the team. But, weve got to move forward here. Weve got two huge games coming up.

McLellan said: To get the one there to make the difference, and for him to feel good about himselfI thought he had a tremendous game, for him to get rewarded I thought was important, too.

Coutures 31st of the season ties him with Joe Pavelski for the team lead.

Playoff feel prevalent: Its an overused phrase in professional sports, but the Sharks-Stars game on Tuesday night truly had a playoff-type feel from the drop of the first puck.

Thats not exactly astonishing, either, given the stakes for the eighth and ninth place teams in the Western Conference. The first period was frantic, back-and-forth, physical, and virtually non-stop. In fact, there was a stretch of more than six minutes without a single whistle.

Absolutely, said Couture, when asked if the players felt the same playoff-type vibe as all of us watching from above. You look at the first 12 or 13 minutes, there werent many whistles and the pace was up and down. Im sure it was exciting for fans. It was fun to play in.

McLellan has been preaching for weeks that the playoffs have arrived early for his club, and he didnt deviate from his coach-speak message post-game.

The two games against Dallas were the two biggest games of the year, said the coach. Were in a playoff series. Weve talked about that. When you can win back-to-back games in a playoff series, one and home and one on the road, youve usually set yourself up pretty well.

The message now shifts to keeping the momentum the Sharks have built in their convincing wins over Dallas. San Jose visits the Kings on Thursday and hosts Los Angeles on Saturday to conclude the regular season. Two more points assures the Sharks of a playoff spot, regardless of what else happens among the other bubble teams.

Good teams keep their highs and lows at a very even keel, McLellan said. We still have work to do. We cannot let our guards down, and that will be the message again sent to the players Wednesday.

The Sharks practice on Wednesday afternoon in El Segundo.