The San Jose Sharks have established themselves as the best road team during the 2015-16 NHL in the last two games—odd considering they have been at home for both. They held a 3-2 edge on the scoreboard and among the pictured stars in the latest win over the Boston Bruins Tuesday, March 15.
San Jose’s 25-9-3 record now not only is the most points (53) on the 2015-16 NHL season but the most over .500 (16). The latter is only true after beating the two teams that were better on successive nights.
The Washington Capitals were 16 points over .500 on the road before coming into their visit Saturday and fell 5-2. Boston came in 16 over Tuesday, and both visitors had 49 road points coming into SAP Center.
Both have 49 leaving it, too and are now only 15 points over. Unlike against the Capitals, the Sharks needed every second to ensure that the Bruins did not earn at least a point for the eighth game in a row.
San Jose is now 30-4-2 when scoring first during the 2015-16 NHL season. Joonas Donskoi got his team on the board 8:44 into the game when he retrieved the puck Logan Couture moved behind the net and sent a no-look, behind-the-back feed to the crease that Melker Karlsson one-timed home.
Boston did not even need three minutes to answer. On the rush, prodigy David Pastrnak sent the puck from Torey Krug on net and San Jose backup goalie James Reimer left a juicy rebound that David Krejci slapped home.
Brent Burns had his defensive demons emerge on the power play late in the first period, leaving a casual drop pass that allowed the Bruins to be more aggressive. They pressured him into a giveaway and Krejci got the puck to Loui Eriksson on a breakaway for their ninth shorthanded goal of the 2015-16 NHL season.
As Burns has done so often following a mistake this season, he made up for it with a score when his attempt to send a Tomas Hertl cross-ice feed back to the crease went off a defender past Tuukka Rask. That goal tied the franchise blue-line record for most goals in a season (26), and a secondary assist made it 26 straight times that Joe Thornton has at least a point when the Sharks win.
San Jose’s power play got chances to get the goal they allowed back, making the third count. Burns skated the puck low and sent a pass across to Joel Ward, who settled it and sent it toward the net where Donskoi redirected it in.
Brad Marchand had his own scoring statistic that got tested with Rask pulled. Boston had points in seven straight games when he scored (6-0-1) and has a 30-5-5 record over the 2015-16 NHL season. He almost got that score as the clock was expiring when he got hold of the puck Thornton passed rather than shooting on the empty net himself, then sent it through the neutral zone for Krug on a breakaway.
Reimer made the save with less than a second to go to cap off another solid performance. Joe Pavelski stopped Ryan Spooner’s shot attempt off the ensuing faceoff to make it official.
The event summary could make it seem as though the Sharks did not possess the puck (28-35 faceoffs, 13-12 giveaways and 5-3 takeaways), but a closer look shows they were out-hit 17-22 because they were shooting more: 69-54 in attempts translated to just a 27-23 advantage in shots because the Bruins had a 25-17 edge in blocks that remains superior when factored against the extra time defending (1.08 vs. 1.35 shots allowed per block and 36.2 vs. 31.5 percent of attempts blocked).
It was Boston’s first regulation loss in March and dropped it a game behind the Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division with 11 games left on the 2015-16 NHL season. San Jose is now five points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the Pacific Division lead with 13 games left for both teams, including one head-to-head contest at SAP Center.