The word “gutsy” was used a few times by the Sharks after Thursday’s win in Vegas, and it’s easy to understand why.
The odds certainly were not in San Jose’s favor heading into the third battle of the season with the Golden Knights. The Sharks were without one of their best forwards in Tomas Hertl and heading into a tough building to play a team that had dominated them twice back in October. But instead of letting the rival Vegas squad get into their heads, the Sharks put a mean product out on the ice and played one of their most complete games on the season, winning 2-1 in overtime.
So, yes, gutsy is a good way to categorize the victory.
“Huge win for the boys,” Timo Meier told reporters after the game. “We knew it was a good challenge coming into this game and some guys stepped up. We had everybody chipping in, we had all guys on board. And that’s what we need.”
Aaron Dell agreed. “I think it was just a great character win,” the netminder said. “I think it showed it doesn’t matter who’s in or who’s out, that we can get the job done.”
San Jose was short-handed heading into the game with Hertl out of the lineup with an injury he sustained in Tuesday’s loss to the Oilers. Then the Sharks lost more bodies as the game went on, with Radim Simek and Melker Karlsson missing time towards the end of the contest.
Still, San Jose found a way to buckle down and come out on top.
“We were short by the end there,” captain Logan Couture told Sharks’ play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn after the game. “We only dressed 11 up front, and then Melker went down and Simek went down on the back end. Just a really gutsy performance from us.”
Even with bodies missing, the rest of San Jose’s arsenal was able to pick up the slack, from Meier’s big hits to Couture’s persistence on the game-winner in overtime. Perhaps the biggest standout of the night, though, was Dell. The backup goalie rebounded magnificently from his previous bad starts, locking down the crease and limiting Vegas to one goal on the evening.
Not bad for a guy who hadn’t started a game in nearly three weeks.
“Dell was huge all night,” Couture complimented. “He played unbelievable. He hadn’t played in 10 or 11 days and for him to come in, in this environment, against a team that shoots a lot, he stood on his head for us and gave us a chance to win it.”
Dell attributed his success to getting lots of practice time in between his starts, but ultimately turned the focus to how the team in front of him was playing.
“We played solid defensively the whole game and waited for our chances,” he said. “We stuck to our game plan and we really didn’t give them a whole lot.”
Now, the Sharks are going to have to keep that push going. Head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters after the game that both Karlsson and Simek were banged up, leaving questions as to what San Jose’s lineup might look like Saturday against the red-hot New York Islanders.
Regardless of whether or not Karlsson and Simek are able to play, the Sharks might want to have another gutsy effort on deck.