Lineup Tweaks Pay Dividends For San Jose Sharks In Win Over Devils
After falling to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the San Jose Sharks skated into Sunday’s matinee against the New Jersey Devils with a fresh set of line combinations. San Jose managed just two goals against the Sabres, so head coach Todd McLellan opted to make several significant alterations to the lineup. It was a decision that paid off in a big way, as the team managed to come back from an early 2-1 deficit to win the game by a final score of 4-2.
Veteran winger Raffi Torres netted the game-tying goal late in the second period after sitting out against Buffalo. Rookie forward and California native Matt Nieto potted the game winner in the third period. He was also a healthy scratch on Friday night in favor of Mike Brown.
Nieto and Torres weren’t the only impact players against the Devils who didn’t touch the ice in Buffalo on Friday. Backup goaltender Alex Stalock got the start in net and made 21 saves in the win after veteran starter Antti Niemi surrendered four goals on just 20 shots against the Sabres. Stalock looked confident and poised between the pipes, turning away every shot he faced during the third period.
The Sharks dressed their best players in New Jersey, plain and simple. Instead of icing Brown and Adam Burish, the club sent out two difference-makers in Nieto and Torres. James Sheppard, who has been scratched frequently throughout the season, had an assist on Torres’ tally and played an overall strong game. Tommy Wingels displayed terrific chemistry with standout scorers Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, as that line combined for two goals and three points in the win.
It was a nice comeback victory for a squad that looked lost in their defeat at the hands of a lackluster Sabres team. The new line combinations looked strong and created a number of quality scoring chances. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the new-look lineup stays intact on Tuesday evening when the Sharks host the Carolina Hurricanes.