Forgotten defense returns to vintage form, Sharks beat Hurricanes 3-1

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By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks won their second game in a row, 3-1, against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena Sunday afternoon.

The Sharks’ goals came from Brent Burns, Timo Meier and Chris Tierney.

Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 29 saves, while Hurricanes goaltender Came Ward made 23 saves in a losing effort. Sebastian Aho scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes.

This second win was big for a road trip that started with losses in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said this improvement is due to a commitment to defense:

Real big commitment, I think right from Pittsburgh, it’s been there. Didn’t get the result in the first couple games, but the effort by the goalies and the team defense it’s created offense for us, created a little bit of momentum. You know, everyone’s buying in, which is important, especially when you’re playing on the road.

Sharks forward Chris Tierney said that consistent defense is part of the team’s identity: “I think we just stuck to our game plan. That’s our identity, being able to win those tight games, tight checking and play well in the third and shut teams down. Just sticking to our game plan and working hard is what we do.”

Aaron Dell described what he saw from his team through the game: “We had lots of support tonight, guys were coming in and giving the other guys options and I think it really showed. We didn’t really give up a whole lot and we got out of our zone pretty easily all night.”

While Dell may have forgotten that the game was played early in the day, he did show up ready to play.

The Sharks opened the scoring just 4:06 into the first period. Timo Meier took a quick pass from Joonas Donskoi just above the goal line. Meier had been trailing the play after Donskoi, Burns and Logan Couture initiated the attack. Meier’s shot beat Cam Ward on the glove side. Assists went to Joonas Donskoi and Brent Burns.

The Hurricanes tied it up at one apiece with 2:02 left in the period. Danny O’Regan was just above the Sharks goal line when he turned the puck over to Jordan Staal. Staal’s pass to Danny Aho set him up perfectly to beat Dell.

The Sharks were not done with the period and regained the lead in the final minute. Melker Karlsson’s pass from the corner found Chris Tierney right in front of the net. He wasted no time and put it away. Assists went to Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker.

San Jose repeated that good start in the second period, but cut it almost in half. Just 2:03 into the middle frame, Brent Burns chased the puck down along the blue line and took a hasty, hard shot at the net. Cam Ward may have been somewhat screened by Barclay Goodrow and Brett Pesce battling in front of him. Assists went to Joel Ward and Joakim Ryan.

Brock McGinn and Brenden Dillon fought at 7:32, which started after a cross-check from Dillon. They went to their respective boxes, and Dillon was joined by Kevin Labanc, serving Dillon’s cross-checking penalty. That was the only penalty of the game, but it did not change the score.

Carolina made a good push at the start of the third, outshooting the Sharks 5-1 in the first six minutes. The Sharks put an end to that with a long shift at the other end, wearing the Hurricane defense down with an unrelenting assault. the Hurricanes broke out of that with a two-on-one but could not turn that into a goal.

Carolina pulled Cam Ward from the net with just over two minutes left in the period but the final score remained 3-1.

The Sharks will finish up this road trip on Tuesday in Denver against the Avalanche at 6:00 pm PT.

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