Sharks at forefront of Stanley Cup dialog after transferring into first place – Santa Cruz Sentinel

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A historic evening capped off a historic street journey because the Sharks grew to become simply the sixth workforce in NHL historical past to go Four-Zero on a full Western Canada street journey.

The journey is much more spectacular contemplating that the Sharks acquired full marks whereas enjoying with out Erik Karlsson, who missed his eighth consecutive sport on Monday with a muscle damage in his decrease physique. The Sharks additionally posted the proper file by incomes street wins over the NHL’s second-best house workforce, the Winnipeg Jets, and the Western Convention’s most-potent offensive squad, the Calgary Flames.

With Monday’s win, the Sharks additionally leapfrogged the Flames and Jets with 75 factors, transferring into first place within the Pacific Division and the Western Convention for the primary time this season.

Right here’s what we realized because the Sharks prolonged their profitable streak to 6 video games with a 7-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks:

1. The Sharks at the moment are on the forefront of the Stanley Cup dialog.

In 10 weeks, the Sharks went from not even near the entrance of the pack.

The Sharks transfer into first place places an exclamation level on a outstanding turnaround that began on Dec. 2 after the workforce obtained thumped by the woeful Ottawa Senators in Karlsson’s homecoming to his “without end metropolis.”

Earlier in that journey, Logan Couture mentioned the Sharks weren’t even near being within the Stanley Cup dialog following a 5-Three loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 28. Now, they’re on the forefront of that dialogue, posting a 22-6-2 file since they held a closed-door assembly with basic supervisor Doug Wilson in Montreal on Dec. 2. The Sharks are main the NHL in scoring over that span by averaging Four.27 objectives per sport.

“Clearly we weren’t proud of our play going into that sport in Montreal,” Evander Kane mentioned. “That was a key second the place all of us made a selection to start out enjoying the precise means and battle onerous. It’s paid off up to now.”

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During the last six weeks, the Sharks have picked up a string of wins over the NHL’s high contenders, an inventory that features the Golden Knights, the Flames, the Jets, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who carried a 16-game level streak into the Sharks 5-2 win on Jan. 5.

“We’ve overwhelmed some good groups and we’ve put collectively some good stretches, so it feels good to get rewarded,” Joe Pavelski mentioned. “That’s the way you climb up the standings — consistency.”

With 25 video games left on the schedule, the Sharks might want to maintain that consistency and momentum taking place the stretch to win the Pacific Division title, a race that carries further weight this season.

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At this level, the Western Convention options 5 reliable contenders, the Sharks, Jets, Flames, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights. After that, the competitors falls off a cliff. The Sharks can provide themselves a better street to the Stanley Cup Ultimate by profitable the Pacific Division, incomes a first-round matchup with a wild-card workforce. The prospect of going by the Golden Knights, the Flames after which both the Jets or Predators to succeed in the ultimate is daunting.

“There’s some good groups there,” Pavelski mentioned. “Being in first would assist.”

2. Joe Thornton continues to carve his identify into the NHL’s file books. 

Because the Sharks put collectively a historic street journey, Thornton continued to carve his identify into the file books on a near-nightly foundation. On Thursday, he collected his 1,000th level with the Sharks. On Saturday, he tied Gordie Howe for ninth place on the all-time assists listing. On Monday, he recorded a hat trick of milestones.

First, Thornton moved into 15th place on the NHL’s all-time video games performed listing, passing Shane Doan and Johnny Bucyk as he suited up for his 1,541st profession sport. Then, he handed Howe, selecting up his 1,050th profession helper by establishing Kevin Labanc’s fourth purpose in two video games at 17:30 of the second. The help additionally tied him with Teemu Selanne for 15th place on the all-time scoring listing as he earned his 1,457th profession level.

Earlier on Monday, Thornton acknowledged that passing Howe can be additional particular, saying he doesn’t “belong” on an inventory with him. Howe is certainly one of solely three gamers, together with Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr, that Thornton has an image of himself with in his house.

Couture appreciated the importance of the achievement, as nicely.

“There’s actually no phrases to say that I’m within the dressing room with a man that’s forward of Gordie Howe. It’s fairly loopy,” he mentioned. “I nonetheless consider that (Thornton) is underrated. I nonetheless don’t suppose he will get the credit score he deserves for a way world-class of a participant he’s.”

Kane additionally understood the load of the second. He obtained to fulfill Howe whereas he performed for the Vancouver Giants, a junior hockey workforce that Mr. Hockey held an possession stake in.

“A really-special particular person and a very-special hockey participant,” Kane mentioned. “Clearly, the identical will be mentioned for Jumbo. He gained’t admit it, however it should be fairly satisfying to move a man like that.”

Three. Extra spectacular numbers.

On an evening the place the Sharks moved into first place within the convention, it’s solely acceptable that they devoured up two factors with a real workforce effort.

Fourteen of 18 place gamers discovered their means onto the scoresheet because the Sharks exploited 19-year-old goalie Michael DiPietro, who was making his NHL debut as a result of Jacob Markstrom is damage and backup Thatcher Demko suffered an damage final week. Six Sharks — Kane, Couture, Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson and Brent Burns — recorded multi-point video games.

Martin Jones put collectively a stellar effort within the purpose crease, making 25 saves on 27 photographs, bettering to Eight-1-1 towards his hometown workforce.

“That’s been the story of our season,” head coach Pete DeBoer mentioned.

Timo Meier scored his second purpose in 23 video games, making the Sharks the primary workforce with 5 20-goal scorers.

Kane scored two extra objectives, giving him 15 since Jan. 1, which is tied for tops within the NHL with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson. Hertl netted his 26th, his fourth of the journey, and Pavelski hit the 30-goal mark by redirecting a Brenden Dillon shot at 14:05 of the third.

In doing so, Pavelski recorded his fifth 30-goal season, his first since 2015-16.