In November, the San Jose Sharks had an 11-4-0 record. Even though it wasn’t the most dominant month in their history, after this streak it seemed like the Sharks were going to turn it around. It didn’t happen. Despite that, looking back at the positives from the 2019-20 season is a fun way to pass the time while the NHL is on pause.
Nov. 5 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
To start the month, the Sharks had back-to-back home losses to the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks. They hit a rough patch after struggling in October, but against the Chicago Blackhawks, you couldn’t tell.
The Sharks came out quick, showing no signs of struggle. During the first period, they outshot the Blackhawks 14-3. However, there was no goal until the second period when Patrick Marleau scored less than two minutes in. They added a shorthanded goal by Evander Kane and another goal in the third by Tomas Hertl.
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The Blackhawks replied with two quick goals from Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith toward the end of the third, but the Sharks sealed the game with an empty-net goal from Timo Meier. The Sharks won the game 4-2.
The win broke a five-game losing streak and led to a six-game winning streak. With one-goal wins against the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators, the Sharks gained some confidence that carried them through the rest of the month. They had two close games, but these high scoring affairs brought some life to a major struggle in the Sharks game. They scored than five goals in a 6-5 win against the Wild for the first time this season, a big improvement from the two goals scored in the games against the Jets and Canucks.
Nov. 21 vs. Vegas Golden Knights
On Nov. 21, the Sharks were coming off a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, which ended their six-game streak, to meet their toughest rival, the Vegas Golden Knights. It took them a bit of time to find their legs, and they thought they struck first with a goal from Antti Suomela, but it was called back.
However, the Sharks took the lead when Meier scored his sixth of the season 1:26 into the second period. They held the lead until the third period when Brayden McNabb tied it at one.
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The game went to overtime. After two spectacular saves by Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, he saved another on a breakaway by William Karlsson. Dell’s final big save led to a breakaway for Logan Couture, who scored the overtime-winner off his own rebound. Couture has scored a lot of big game-winning goals in Vegas, and this one was no different:
Even though this 2-1 win wasn’t the Sharks’ best effort, but having a playoff-like atmosphere helped build their confidence. In October, they had two bad losses to the Golden Knights. This win reminded them that they were the team that beat the Golden Knights in the playoffs last season.
Nov. 25 vs. Los Angeles Kings
After two overtime wins against the Golden Knights and New York Islanders, the Sharks headed to LA on Nov. 25.
They came out and scored early on a top-corner shot by Erik Karlsson. They were able to take the lead into the first period and during the second they came out with the same energy as the first. Meier scored two goals a little over two minutes apart in the second to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead.
The Los Angeles Kings got one back before the end of the second to make it 3-1 going into the third. The lead didn’t last.
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The Sharks came out slow in the third and were outworked by a desperate Kings team who outshot them 16-6. Dustin Brown scored at 8:31 and Anze Kopitar at 12:52 to tie the game as the Kings outshot the Sharks 36-25 overall. The Sharks relied on goalie Martin Jones to keep them in the game, until Marleau scored the game-winner 2:35 into overtime to give them their third straight overtime victory and a 4-3 win.
Besides these three games, the Sharks month of November included a lot of great games and many of these games showed the potential of this Sharks team. With wins against the Blackhawks, Wild, and Predators the Sharks were able to string together three wins, something they hadn’t been able to do since mid-October. This also began a six-game win streak, something they haven’t been able to accomplish again this season.
Jones also played well in November. After a .890 save percentage (SV%) and a 3.57 goals-against average (GAA), he improved to a .902 SV% and a 2.62 GAA. After having a down year in 2017-18 and a down month of October, Jones was starting to play similar to his play in 2015-16 or 2016-17.
Another big reason for their success during the month was that they were scoring goals. The Sharks scored 50 goals in November and averaged 3.33 goals per game compared to 30 goals in October when they averaged 2.50 goals per game. Leading the way in scoring was Couture with 18 points, Meier with 14 points, and Kane with 12 points.
Even though this successful month was sandwiched between a four-win October and a two-win December, it’s great that there was at least one month in a down season of great Sharks hockey to look back on.