SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Timo Meier’s return to San Jose’s lineup gave the Sharks just the boost they needed after a rough road trip.
Meier had a goal and two assists in his first game back from an injury, Martin Jones made 39 saves and the Sharks responded to a shuffle of duties for their assistant coaches by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Wednesday night.
“It felt great,” Meier said. “You don’t want to be sitting out watching games with an injury. For me it was important to get healthy. Obviously I was really excited to keep playing again. I had a lot of energy today and we played a great game overall.”
Barclay Goodrow and Tomas Hertl got San Jose started with goals in the first period, captain Joe Pavelski added his team-leading 18th in the second period and Marcus Sorensen scored in the third to give the Sharks a convincing victory.
Lucas Wallmark scored on the power play for the Hurricanes, who have scored just five goals in the past five games, losing four of them. Curtis McElhinney made 18 saves.
“We’ve had too many like this, that’s the problem,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We’ve played good enough to win and we don’t get any results. That’s hard on the guys. It’s been a weird year for this. It was a 5-1 game and you think ‘wow, that’s a terrible game,’ I didn’t see it that way. Maybe I’m wrong, I have to look at it again, but it certainly didn’t feel like that.”
The Sharks had been outscored 20-7 in losing the first four games on their recent road trip before salvaging it a bit with a 3-1 win in Montreal. Coach Peter DeBoer shuffled the responsibility of his assistants a bit, moving Dave Barr to the bench to work with the forwards, making Rob Zettler the “eye in the sky,” and having Steve Spott shift from overseeing forwards to the defense.
“After a road trip like that you have to look in the mirror,” defenseman Justin Braun said. “You can’t look at other guys. You have to figure out what you need to do to help the team win.”
They did that as a team and built on that momentum from Montreal against the Hurricanes with Kevin Labanc setting up two goals in the first 10:10 and Jones stopping 17 shots in the first.
Labanc took a bad bounce off the boards to feed Goodrow in front to open the scoring and then made a perfect pass from the boards that deflected off Hertl’s stick for a power-play goal midway through the first.
San Jose blew a 2-0 lead at Carolina earlier this season, losing 4-3 in a shootout. But the Sharks managed to build on this advantage in the second. Meier deflected Radim Simek’s point shot past McElhinney for his 14th goal of the season. Meier had missed the previous three games with an upper-body injury.
“He’s been there for us, he’s been solid for us most of the year,” Pavelski said. “For him to come back in, he brings that speed. He plays a good amount of minutes and fills out certain situations, whether it’s a power play, 5-on-5. So it definitely gave us a little boost.”
Meier added an assist on Pavelski’s goal, which came when a centering pass was deflected by Carolina’s Jordan Staal into his own net.
“It’s tough to sit here and say what we need to do and not sound like I’m bashing us,” defenseman Justin Faulk said. “That’s the way it goes, you look at a few of their goals, they’re just throwing crap at the net, hits a stick, goes off a body. I don’t know.”
The Hurricanes managed the power-play goal late in the second, but it wasn’t enough with Sorensen adding the insurance goal in the third off a pass from Meier.
NOTES: Joe Thornton had three assists for San Jose, leaving him two shy of tying Marcel Dionne for 10th place all-time with 1,040. … Staal left the game in the third with an upper-body injury. … Simek had his first career point with the assist on Meier’s goal. … Hurricanes D Brett Pesce returned after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.