Sharks responding well to adversity

March 25, 2012, 8:31 pm
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SAN JOSE The Sharks have picked up a pair of wins in their last two games at what is the most important time of the season, but that doesnt mean theyve been perfect.

Of course, a flawless 60-minute game is hard to come by at any point in the year, and there are bound to be moments where things dont go the right way. Its how a team responds to that adversity that can define whether or not it wins or loses.

In the victories over Boston on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday, the Sharks have not let mistakes or letdowns that end up in the back of their net get them down. On Thursday it was a late goal by Zdeno Chara that the Sharks brushed aside in winning, 2-1. Saturday's game against Phoenix featured a goal with half a second left in the first period to tie it, and then another early in the second to give the Coyotes the lead. Daniel Winnik re-tied it shortly after.

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Its a positive sign for the remaining seven games, and something that was missing during the teams 4-11-3 run from Feb. 4 to March 10.

Were finding ways to win games when a couple weeks ago we were finding ways to lose games. Thats changed, Logan Couture said on Sunday. You go through ups and downs in a period or entire games, but weve dealt with it better as of late.

Torrey Mitchell said: Theres been good responses at those times where weve been down, so thats been a plus lately.

Is that a reflection that the Sharks, 5-2-1 in their last eight games, are a more confident club from as recently as two weeks ago?

Possibly, Couture said. A lot of guys in this room have been through a lot in the playoffs and down the stretch. They know how to handle that, so I think that has something to do with it, as well.

When youre playing well and youre winning, it just feels like theres no doubt, Mitchell said. When we get down a goal or they score, we feel a little more confident like were going to come back as opposed to being in a slump and thinking here we go again.

As Couture alluded to, one thing the Sharks have in spades is veteran experience. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and others have seen just about everything there is to see in their years as professionals.

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That was on display after the first period against the Coyotes, after several mental lapses led to a game-tying goal that could easily have taken the wind from the Sharks sails. The early goal in the second giving the Coyotes a 3-2 lead only compounded the potential problem.

But, San Jose answered back with Winnik's goal and went on to collect a shootout victory.

When we walked off after the first period, youre always concerned about where the team is going to go when we start again, Todd McLellan said. I liked what our leadership group was saying. You could hear them on the way in. It was almost like the coaches didnt need to go in a lot and talk to them, they were taking care of it and saying the right things.

"Now, we go out and get scored on right away and then youre really worried, but we still found a way to respond, and that was a good thing.

Its a trait that will be necessary in the final two weeks of the season, starting with Monday night against Colorado.

McLellan said: It probably is about feeling better about yourself, and knowing that you can recover from those mistakes. Really, right now, we have no choice but to recover. We cant wallow in pity and feel sorry for ourselves when something doesnt go our way. Weve got to respond immediately and get back at it.

Having a short memory isnt just for losses or bad goals, either, Mitchell pointed out.

When it goes wrong you want to forget about it, but even when you win a game we need to turn it around and focus on Colorado now, he said. Every game is a playoff game; its do or die for us pretty much. You need to turn the page as soon as you wake up the next morning.

Odds and ends: The Sharks held an optional skate on Sunday at Sharks Ice. The players that did not skate were Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, Marty Havlat, Dominic Moore, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski. The Coyotes host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night in the only other Western Conference game involving a bubble team. Phoenix is then off until Thursday, when it hosts the Sharks. ... Coyotes forward Alexandre Bolduc was fined 2,500, the maximum allowed under the CBA, for his slew-foot of Clowe in the second period on Saturday.