3 Takeaways From Sharks’ 4-3 Shootout Win vs. Islanders

The San Jose Sharks earned the victory they so desperately needed against the New York Islanders. It wasn’t their prettiest performance of the season, but it could turn out to be one of the more important ones.

San Jose snapped its seven-game winless streak with a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders at SAP Center on Feb. 24. If they can use this to jumpstart their season, this could be a really big deal.

A Much-Needed Victory for the Sharks

The Sharks won, which is obviously the most important thing. The victory snaps the long winless streak, and they finally earned the two points. It was their first win since Jan. 26, and Sharks coach Bob Boughner saw the result as a reward for plenty of hard work.

“At this time of year, you’ve just got to find ways to get points, and tonight we did,” Bob Boughner said. “Sometimes I think of the Anaheim game (a 4-3 shootout loss on Feb. 22), and I think we played better then than we did tonight. But that’s the way the game goes. You get a save here or there, or you get a bounce here or there, and we stuck with it and battled through even though we weren’t at our best.”

Boughner may not have seen it as an A-plus performance, but the Sharks had something which was rare during its winless streak – a strong first period. The Islanders actually scored the first goal, but the Sharks were buzzing. Tomas Hertl blasted a shot off the crossbar 6:30 into the game, and the Sharks got to work late in the period, scoring twice in less than two minutes.

San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture
San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

The Sharks set up a great screen on a power play, and Alexander Barabanov let go a shot which Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin never saw to tie the game at 15:55 of the opening period. Just 1:47 later, the Sharks forced a turnover, which was collected by Jasper Weathersby. He skated just beyond the circle and curled a shot on net that deflected past Sorokin for a San Jose lead.

Logan Couture scored in the second, but the Islanders picked up two in the stanza and tied the game at 3-3. The squads skated through a scoreless third period and overtime before Couture scored the only goal of the shootout and set his team back to a happy dressing room. “Everyone stepped up really well,” San Jose defenseman Jacob Middleton said. “Nice to win one too. Really nice. This is the first time I’ve heard music after (in the locker room) in seven games, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Reimer Delivers Strong Performance

With Adin Hill still out with a lower-body injury, and Boughner seemingly uncomfortable with letting Zach Sawchenko into the net, goalie James Reimer has been a workhorse for the Sharks. He has started nine consecutive games, and his outing against New York was among his finest of the season.

James Reimer San Jose Sharks
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Reimer was fantastic, making 44 saves and holding the Islanders scoreless through the final 28:10 of regulation and overtime. He stopped all three shootout attempts by Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. He had several sparkling saves, including a couple off his mask, which has to sting. Of particular note was his stop on a point-blank offering from Oliver Wahlstrom in the second period, but the Islanders kept pelting the net all night, and Reimer was up to the task.

Sharks Continue to Excel on Penalty Kill

As of this moment, there is no team in the NHL more effective on the penalty kill than the Sharks. It’s the one thing that has kept them in so many games and might spark the winning streak they so desperately need.

The Sharks’ PK went three-for-three against New York, improving to 27-for-28 (96%) in their last seven games, which ranks first in the NHL in that span. This was the sixth straight game in which the Sharks did not allow a power-play goal. They now also have the longest active streak for penalty kills within the NHL, with 18 straight penalties killed.

Related: 2 Key Reasons for Sharks’ Losing Streak

The first PK unit of Couture, Andrew Cogliano, Mario Ferraro and Brent Burns deserve a lot of the credit for those statistics, but this has been a team effort. The Sharks are second in the league overall at 85.71 percent on the PK, trailing only Carolina (89.77).

The Sharks only had to kill one penalty early in the third period. So it was a pretty light night at the tensest time of the game. The Islanders did outplay them throughout the third period and OT, outshooting San Jose 18-5 in that span. But Reimer held them off, and the Sharks finally played happy tunes after the game. They return to the ice against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 26 at the SAP Center in San Jose.

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