Highlights: Sharks cruise to 5-1 win over Edmonton
SAN JOSE – Logan Couture never panicked throughout a career-worst 11-game goal-scoring drought, which he’s broken with authority over the last three games, scoring one gorgeous goal in each.
Bracken Kearns, well, he wasn’t sure he’d ever get an NHL goal at all. He equaled Couture’s feat with his third marker in as many games, though – the first three of the 32-year-old’s career – in San Jose’s 5-1 dismantling of Edmonton on Thursday night at SAP Center.
Both of their goals came in the second period, increasing the Sharks’ lead to 4-0 over the last place Oilers, and helping the club quickly move past a convincing defeat of its own two nights earlier in Anaheim.
“We were just ready to go as soon as the puck dropped, and I thought for a full 60 we kept the pressure on and dictated the pace of the game tonight,” said Joe Thornton, who added to his league-leading assist total with two more.
Coach Todd McLellan was angry with his club following the 6-3 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday, challenging his team to look in the mirror as individuals and decide what they bring to the team. The message was likely aimed more at the third and fourth line players, as the Sharks are looking to shore up their bottom six while dealing with a multitude of injuries.
On Thursday, not only did Kearns get another goal, but John McCarthy got his first point in 22 games this season and James Sheppard and Andrew Desjardins also appeared on the scoresheet with assists.
“The role players played some pretty good roles tonight,” McLellan said. “You saw shots that were blocked. There was some physicality, they won battles, they checked well. That was a good sign. The go-to offensive guys were productive. It was a team effort.”
After Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau staked the home team a 2-0 first period lead, Kearns made it 3-0 when a puck found its way to him in the high slot and he quickly put it on net.
After spending most of his career in the minors, and not even making his NHL debut until the age of 30 with Florida, Kearns said he dreamt of scoring a goal in the NHL after he finally found the back of the net on Dec. 29 vs. Anaheim.
Did he ever fantasize about a three-game goal-scoring streak?
“I don’t know if I’ve dreamt that far ahead,” he said. “It feels good, but like I said before, there’s a lot of luck in that streak and I’ve just got to try to keep it going.”
Couture’s run of success, of course, is far less surprising. The 24-year-old rising star was still getting scoring chances and pucks on net even when it wasn’t falling. He lifted a perfect shot past Devan Dubnyk, one-on-one with the goalie, to give San Jose a commanding four-goal cushion.
“I’ve had a lot of chances like that against [Dubnyk] in particular in the past, and I’ve gone blocker side a lot. I tricked him tonight and went glove, and was able to beat him,” said Couture, who seems to take particular pleasure in scoring against the Oilers.
Like many of his other teammates, though, Couture seems to be getting a kick out of what Kearns is doing more than even his own accomplishments.
“I’m extremely happy for Kearnsy. Ever since I’ve known him, I’ve known the story and known what he’s gone through and how hard he’s worked. I’ve seen him work so hard every day, and he’s a guy that you admire, especially for me. I’ve had a lot different road to get to the NHL than he has.
“You look at him [playing 600 games in the minors], and now he’s getting a shot, and scores in three straight games. It’s incredible. It gives you chills thinking about it.”
The win allowed the Sharks to feel good about their game heading into a tough weekend, with visits to Colorado and Chicago back-to-back.
“We didn’t work as hard as we feel we should have in Anaheim, and we got back to it tonight,” Thornton said.
“There’s so many good things that came out of tonight, and now we just have to keep it going in Colorado.”