The Sharks and Blues held their mutual infamy from Game 2s 132-minute chat as a sort of trophy for all of 20 hours.Then Pittsburgh, which is in far deeper mess than San Jose, hooked up with Philadelphia for a 133-minute hatefest that took the shame meter deeper into the red, and Game 3 got, well, closer to normal.Its playoffs, San Jose coach Todd McLellan said after dismissing any request to relive Saturdays hate-festival3-0 St. Louis win. Its a scrappy time of year, especially in the first round. Every inch is important. Youve got to scratch and claw to score goals and earn ice. Its amazing what six inches of ice can do for you. When you lose it, youre chasing the game. When you win those six or 12 inches of ice, youre in the lead. Thats the kind of series it is and will be.McLellan also explained the emotional burst in Game 2 as merely the conditions that prevail.Its because everybody believes they have a chance right now, he said. Passionate groups, all 16 of them. They worked hard to get here, and theyre trying to find an edge every way they can. Once the first round ends, everybody kind of settles in and plays. But that first round is always so emotional.And the extracurriculars?Its emotion. Very high, very intense, the fans are involved. Its an exciting time of year. Other than that, its hard to explain. You have to be there to feel it. Its a feel you get on the bench. Guys get active and get involved.Of course, Pittsburgh crossed all manner of lines as they suddenly saw elimination and embarrassment in one fell swoop on Sunday. The Sharks and Blues were just turf-warring, with a jagged edge.Until you're out there you dont really realize the frustration level and the intensity, wing Ryane Clowe said. You dont want to feel like youre getting pushed around, you want to push back. Its a fine line. And skill guys, too, are getting feisty. I like it.If guys are fighting each other, I dont see that as a lack of respect. But last night, when a guy sucker-punches you, thats not something Id do. But I think for the most part, respect among players is there. The only thing is, sometimes youre not thinking straight when your bloods boiling.As for adjustments to change the nature of the series, McLellan was coy (maybe a moment for Jim Vandermeer?), and St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said he would keep Brian Elliott in goal, though much of that had to do with Jaroslav Halaks injury preventing him from making the trip west. Jake Allen, who warmed up with the team when Elliott looked questionable before Game 1.But the series has probably had its worst moment. Well, until Monday.
Programming note – Sharks-Bruins coverage starts today at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 35-18-6, 76 points, 1st Pacific Division
Bruins: 29-23-6, 64 points, 4th Atlantic Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks will be playing their second of a back-to-back, and final game before the bye week, in a rare matinee start time at SAP Center against Boston. Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona was just San Jose’s second in its last seven games, although they have points in six of those (2-1-4). San Jose is 4-2-4 since reeling off six straight wins from Jan. 16 – 24, and has a four-point lead on Edmonton for first place in the Pacific Division.
***Boston will be playing for the first time since its bye week, which may not have come at a good time. The Bruins reeled off three straight wins after changing coaches from Claude Julien to interim Bruce Cassidy, the first of which came against the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9. The Bruins haven’t played since last Sunday, a 4-0 home win over Montreal.
***Joe Thornton brings a five-game point streak into tonight’s game (2g, 4a). He sits two assists shy of becoming the 13th player in NHL history to reach 1000 assists.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Melker Karlsson. The fourth line winger was the star of last night’s game in Arizona, posting one goal and two assists, and getting credit for the game-winning goal. Karlsson, second on the Sharks in shorthanded time on ice per game, has two goals and three points in three career games against the Bruins.
Bruins: Patrice Bergeron. The three-time Selke Trophy winner posted four points (1g, 3a) against the Sharks in Boston 10 days ago, and is third on the team in scoring with 33 points (14g, 19a). The 31-year-old is just one assist shy of 400 for his career, and is eighth on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list.
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Nikolay Goldobin – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pasternak
Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller – Colin Miller
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.
Bruins: Austin Czarnik (lower body) is out.
“He’s having an MVP season. He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.” – Pete DeBoer on Brent Burns after Saturday’s Sharks win in Arizona, in which Burns had two goals
For the first time in five tries this season the Sharks managed to secure a regulation win over the last place Coyotes, 4-1 at Gila River Arena on Saturday. They keep their four-point lead over Edmonton, and are assured of going into the bye week in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.
Here are our three takeaways from the win…
1 – Burns turns the tide…again
For the second time in a week, Brent Burns changed the momentum of a game with his deadly wrist shot. The Sharks were on their heels early – Arizona had a 16-9 shot advantage in the first period, perhaps jolted be a pregame ceremony – but Burns’ shot through traffic staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead and they were on their way.
“We kind of weathered their storm early,” Joe Pavelski told reporters. “There was a lot of energy in the building.”
It was similar to a game in New Jersey last Sunday, when Burns had a pair of second period goals, erasing a 1-0 deficit and putting his team on the track to victory.
According to Elias, Burns – who added a third period power play goal, too – is the first defenseman to score 18 goals on the road since Paul Coffey’s 22 in 1983-84. His 26 goals equal his total from last season, tying his franchise record.
“He’s having an MVP season,” Pete DeBoer told reporters. “He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”
Burns remains in third in the league in scoring with 63 points, four points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.
2 – Dell gets the job done…again
Getting his second start in a week, Aaron Dell made a new season high (and, thus, career high) with 36 saves. His best stop was early in the second period on Radim Vrbata, when he managed to snag a pin-balling puck from crossing the line, keeping the Sharks ahead 2-0. Had that one trickled over, the Coyotes might have been able to seize the momentum.
“I think I had it the whole time,” Dell told reporters. “I kind of saw it for a second and then when I turned back I was able to find it and scoop it underneath me.”
DeBoer said: “He’s been good every time we’ve put him in there.”
Dell, whose goals-against average is down to 1.95, outplayed Sharks nemesis Mike Smith, who had stopped 121 of 127 San Jose shots in three games this season.
“We got to Smitty in the first period, which was great,” Pavelski said. “We kind of know what he’s done to us the past few games, stopping a lot of pucks. … That was a big key for us.”
3 – Fourth line magic
Through two periods, the Sharks’ top two lines had generated a total of three shots on goal – one each from Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Patrick Marleau.
Fortunately for the big guys, the fourth line was there to pick up the slack. Melker Karlsson posted three points (1g, 2a), Micheal Haley had one goal and one assist, and the fourth line generated all three of San Jose’s goals through 40 minutes.
One goal from the fourth line is a bonus. Three is virtually unheard of.
“They showed up and played the right way,” DeBoer said. “Right from the drop of the puck they put pucks behind the other teams defense, they had good support, they created a lot of chances, and got rewarded for it. I think Dell and them were the difference in the game early through the first half, until we got going a little bit.”