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The San Jose Sharks have built a bit of momentum as their season comes to a close, currently riding a three-game winning streak.
After shutting out the Winnipeg Jets to finally end their nine-game losing skid, the Sharks responded with an overtime win over the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. San Jose had pulled ahead with a two-goal lead in the first period, and ended up only giving up nine shots throughout the first 40 minutes, holding a 3-2 lead after two periods. The Golden Knights did tie the game midway through a much more eventful third period (which saw 30 shots combined), but an overtime goal from Logan Couture left the Sharks with their second win in a row.
Then last night, the Sharks got off to a hot start yet again, pulling out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. While the Coyotes got one back in the frame, Danil Gushchin reinstated the three-goal lead early in the second frame with a great shot, for his first NHL goal. A series of third period goals after that, including two from Noah Gregor to complete his first hat trick, led to a 7-2 win.
After such a long losing skid and brutal season overall, it's good to see the Sharks finding some success, no matter how minor. Perhaps the biggest positive with the wins is we’re seeing some engagement from the Sharks’ young talent.
Gushchin picked up a goal in his NHL debut last night, while Jacob Peterson scoring as well means he now has four points in five games with the Sharks. Meanwhile, Thomas Bordeleau was called up for his first two games of the year, picking up an assist against Vegas. Henry Thrun also notably played his first two NHL games, earning two assists and taking on a huge role right away. Then while Noah Gregor isn’t necessarily ‘young talent’ anymore, he’s still just a year younger than Peterson and it’s good to see him getting on the board.
Of course, it’s all supplemented by the Sharks’ veterans leading the way. Erik Karlsson had four assists last night alone, while Logan Couture has three goals and four points over his last four games, including that OT winner against Vegas. But it’s seeing some of the team’s younger talent find success that builds excitement for the future, even if the individual goals don’t mean a lot at the moment.
Really, it’s still a little counterproductive from a management perspective for the Sharks to be winning games – given their situation, getting a high draft pick is the most important thing for them. At the same time, it’s good to see them earning some wins and seeing some younger players make progress.
As of now, the Sharks sit 14th in the West and 29th in the NHL in points percentage. With only six games remaining, they’ll be back in action on Tuesday, as they kick off a three-game homestand with the first of two games against the Colorado Avalanche.