When most teams head toward “The Shark Tank” in San Jose to take on the hometown Sharks the main players opponents think about are Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. But these last two victories have come from a different man.
Thursday, March 22nd Daniel Winnik scored the second goal in a 2-1 victory against the defending champion Boston Bruins.
Then two days later Winnik scored the game-tying goal against the Phoenix Coyotes to send them into a shootout resulting in a 4-3 victory.
The win over Phoenix was a key game for the Sharks. Before Saturday’s victory the Sharks were 1-3 and shutout twice against the Coyotes this season. Now after this loss and yesterday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues the boys in Phoenix are seventh in the conference and only one point ahead of the Sharks.
Winnik’s offensive performance wasn’t the looking the brightest with San Jose since he hadn’t received a single point since his assist in his third game with San Jose in early March.
Now after two critical goals in the last two games opponents will be looking deeper into San Jose’s bench than the first two scoring lines.
Winnik has also brought his season totals up to seven goals and 21 points on the season and only five below his career high.
San Jose will need to use their newfound offensive depth to the max as six out of their next seven games are against teams within one point of each other in the standings.
Tonight the Sharks take on Winnik’s former team the Colorado Avalanche. Winnik’s five goals and had 13 assists in Colorado prove that he was successfully familiar with the Avalanche’s offensive play this season. Fans can bet to see more playing than the 10 minutes of playing time for Winnik tonight to try exposing Colorado’s weaknesses.
San Jose and Colorado both have 86 points on the season but luckily for San Jose the Avalanche are two games deeper into the season than the Sharks.
A win tonight will put San Jose back in the Western Conference’s top eight ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes.