Wingels: 'Just trying to create energy out there'
Tommy Wingels led all players in the series with 20 hits. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – He didn’t end up on the scoresheet, or factor directly into any of the Sharks’ goals in Tuesday night’s series-clinching 4-3 win over Vancouver, but forward Tommy Wingels had as much of an impact on the positive outcome as any player that suited up for San Jose.
When Joe Pavelski tied the game late in the third period on a power play, it was Wingels who drew the cross-checking penalty on Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa.
When Patrick Marleau won the game in overtime, sweeping in a loose puck at the side of the net, Daniel Sedin was in the box for his boarding penalty on Wingels in the extra session.
Earlier, the Sharks had a huge opportunity to put the game away in the second period, when Wingels drew a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis with his team ahead 2-1.
That’s eight minutes total of penalties in total drawn by the 25-year-old forward. Was it pure happenstance? Not at all, according to head coach Todd McLellan.
“Tommy is involved with his nose over the puck all the time, so it’s not a coincidence,” McLellan said. “He did not dive. He competed over pucks, and when you’re there and in that spot, you’re going to create some type of physical conflict. He’s done that all year, and I think he had a huge impact on the series.”
The final penalty, of course, received the most attention. It was deemed boarding by referee Kelly Sutherland at 13:03 of overtime, and Marleau’s fourth goal in as many games in the series 15 seconds later allowed the Sharks to advance.
Wingels went hard, shoulder-first into the boards and was shaken up on the play, but said he would be fine for the start of round two next week. He offered his interpretation of the play.
“I wasn’t expecting the hit when it happened,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s more on my part on that. It looked shoulder-to-shoulder. I think I went in awkwardly into the boards. It’s not my job to determine whether it’s a fair hit or not.”
Wingels led all players in the series with 20 hits, placing him 12th in the league in that category, while playing on a line with Joe Pavelski and Andrew Desjardins.
He admitted that he could have been getting under Vancouver’s skin a bit as the series wore on.
“Our focus was to get after their defensemen the entire series, and make it hard on them,” he said. “As a defenseman, you don’t want a forward bearing down on you an entire series. Maybe that played a role, I don’t know. Just trying to create energy out there, and I was able to draw a couple.”
The Sharks’ power play was perhaps the single biggest reason the team was able to advance in four straight. They potted three goals in each of games three and four, and Logan Couture’s power play goal in Game 1 was the equalizer in what ended up being a 3-1 win.
San Jose finished the series 7-for-24 with a man advantage (29.2 percent), and was on the power play a whopping 20 minutes and 40 seconds more than Vancouver, which had two power play goals in just 10 opportunities.
Wingels said: “When you work hard, you get calls. You earn calls. That’s something that I think we did well.”
In Game 4, no one did it better than him, and it’s a big reason the Sharks get to rest before facing their next opponent.