By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE– The Sharks ended a three-game losing streak by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Saturday. To get them there, Joel Ward scored three goals. It had been quite a long time since anyone other than Joel Ward scored for the Sharks, nearly three games. So it was fitting that he be front and center when the team finally got back on the winning side.
It was not the most elegant win, but it was a win and Joel Ward certainly deserved his hat trick. Sharks goals were also scored by Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, and San Jose goaltender Martin Jones stopped 32 of 34 shots for the win. For the Hurricanes, Justin Faulk and Riley Nash scored.
With Paul Martin back in the lineup and Joe Thornton still in it, the Sharks are starting to look like the team that started the season. Their opponent was not in top form, having played the night before, and the Sharks were able to capitalize on that early in the game. If you blinked at the wrong moment, like right after Tomas Hertl’s shot was stopped by Carolina goaltender Eddie Lack, you would have missed Joel Ward tucking the rebound in. It was not much of a rebound, more of a gently loose puck, but it was free enough for Ward to get his stick on just 1:21 into the game. Assists went to Patrick Marleau and Hertl. It was Joel Ward’s 100th career goal.
The Sharks’ second goal was also Ward’s. This one was challenged by Hurricanes coach Bill Peters. There was no question of interference, but rather a missed offside call. After reviewing the video, the referees verified that the play was onside. Thanks to Ward, the Sharks were up by two before the ten minute mark. An assist went to Brent Burns.
The Sharks took the first penalty, a hooking call to Joe Thornton against Ron Hainsey. The Sharks killed that off without much ado and hardly any whistles. The Sharks then took the second penalty as well, this one to Barclay Goodrow for high sticking Chris Terry.
By the end of the period, the Sharks were ahead on the scoreboard by two but trailing slightly (7-6) on the shot clock.
Less than three minutes into the second period, the Sharks took another penalty, a tripping penalty to Brenden Dillon. The penalties caught up to the Sharks this time, and just 30 seconds into the power play, Carolina scored. A pass along the blue line from Nathan Gerbe found Justin Faulk Rask at the point. Faulk’s shot went by Eric Staal and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. It was a good screen and a clean shot.
The Sharks got it back at 6:06 of the period, when a short the Sharks swarmed the net after an offensive zone faceoff. Play seemed to stop when Eddie Lack (and apparently most other players) thought Lack had the puck behind him. He did not have it and it slid out near his skate and got pushed in by the goalie himself.
The goal went to Joe Pavelski with assists to Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Thornton.
It was a rough night for Eddie Lack. The next goal came when the puck trickled through the five hole and sat behind him for a couple of seconds. There was no support nearby for the goaltender but there were two Sharks handy to help the puck over the line. The goal went to Tommy Wingels. Assists went to Chris Tierney and Paul Martin.
Cam Ward came in to relieve Lack. The Hurricanes were not out of it yet and they scampered back down the ice to attack the Sharks net. Jones had been facing some bouncing shots and he saw one fly over the net just before Riley Nash tucked one in from behind the net. Assists went to Noah Hanifin and Kris Versteeg.
As the second period ended, the Hurricanes had a distinct upper hand. More than once, the Sharks were trapped in their own zone and Jones had to handle wild, bouncing shots. The Hurricanes may not have scored, but they went into the intermission on a strong note. The shots stood at 19-14 Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes came back for the third without much loss of momentum. There were few whistles for the first five minutes, and finally, at 5:20, the Sharks got their first power play. Kris Versteeg went to the box for hooking. The Sharks held the zone for over a minute with their first power play unit, which now included Joel Ward alonside Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns. The second unit of Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl, Matt Tennyson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney had little time to work with after that.
The third period featured traded chances from number twelves, when Patrick Marleau chased down a Carolina defender to create a good chance for the Sharks. Carolina’s number twelve, Eric Staal, responded by snatching up the loose puck and breaking the other way. Jones and Ward both did their jobs and nothing came of either try.
By the final minutes of the third, the Hurricanes were again outworking the Sharks… except for Martin Jones. Jones was outworking everyone. For the last four minutes, the Sharks looked like they were killing a penalty, and that was before the Canes pulled their goalie and actually had a man advantage.
With Jones in net and some luck, San Jose’s two goal lead held up. The final seconds saw the Sharks doing everything they could to get the puck to Ward in front of the open net. Finally, they did, and the hats flew. It was Ward’s second career hat trick.
Ward and Wingels were tied for the team lead in shots with four each. Mike Brown led the team in hits with four. Burns (24:07) and Martin (21:54) led the team in ice time.
Justin Faulk led the Hurricanes with five shots. Brock McGinn led the team in hits with three. Eddie Lack made 9 saves on 13 shots. Cam Ward made 7 saves on 7 shots.
The Sharks next play on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators, in San Jose at 7:30 PT.