Despite goal drought, Winnik settling in

Despite goal drought, Winnik settling in
March 19, 2012, 2:17 pm
Share This Post

SAN JOSE Daniel Winnik isnt letting his goal-scoring drought bother him.

No, its not the first time Ive gone through something like this. I think when you do start letting it weigh on you, it compounds it even more, Winnik said on Sunday. You might restrict yourself from making plays or being nervous to shoot. I havent really thought about it too much.

Winnik scored a goal at HP Pavilion on Dec. 13, while still with the Avalanche in a 4-3 Colorado shootout win. Since then, he has yet to light the lamp, including his first 10 games since being traded to the Sharks on Feb. 27. Thats a span of 41 games half of an NHL regular season.

If he plays the way he did on Saturday against the Red Wings, though, it might not be long before he gets his first marker in a teal jersey. Winnik, along with linemates Torrey Mitchell and Dominic Moore, were outstanding for the final two periods of the Sharks 3-2 overtime win over their rivals.

Winnik came within a few inches of scoring with about four minutes to go in the second. After he set up Dominic Moore for a shot, Winnik was staring down a rebound at an open net, but the puck wouldnt cooperate.

It just kind of blew up there before I shot it. Those things happen, and hopefully you get a couple more of those chances, said Winnik, who had a career high 11 goals in 2007-08 with Phoenix, and again with Colorado in 2010-11.

Although he missed on that chance, he made several other nifty plays with the puck, particularly late. He set up Moore for a one-timer from the circle just two minutes into the third period, and later he found Mitchell for a blast from the circle with four and a half minutes remaining in regulation. Jimmy Howard stopped them both.

It wasnt a coincidence that the Sharks third line was buzzing after the opening frame. Coach Todd McLellan said after the game that he challenged that threesome to pick up its play late in the first and it responded.

Winnik said: I didnt think as a line we had a very good first period. We werent making it hard on their D, we werent making them turn and go get pucks, and I think as third and fourth line guys, thats what we have to do. Tire their D out, so we have good zone time and it gives a lot more space for Jumbo and Patty, and those two lines.

After Todd said that, I think we responded real well and had a lot of zone time in the second and third.

Winnik also had one of the biggest hits in what was a physical and intense game, typical of any Sharks-Red Wings affair, when he leveled Todd Bertuzzi with an open ice hit midway through the third. Bertuzzi lost his helmet upon impact.

Overall, Winnik is feeling better every day in his new surroundings.

I was thinking about this the other day, it almost feels like easing into it, ornot so much easing into it, but training camp-ish. Its taken couple games to really kind of feel more comfortable game-by-game, he said. These last couple games Ive felt a lot more comfortable, especially making plays in the offensive zone.

McLellan said: I think hes found his position within our team. When you get new players, youre trying to figure them out a little bit, and where they fit the best. That line of Moore, Winnik and Mitchell has been pretty effective, and I think theyre comfortable now playing with each other.

Still, the head coach would like to see Winnik chip in the odd goal here and there.

I think he keeps playing the way he is over the last four or five games hell get his opportunities, and then hes got to bury them. Everybody has to find a way to score at some point, and he has the ability to do it.