Alex Stalock's first National League Hockey start was a good one, as the San Jose Sharks backup goaltender made 38 saves in a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on the road Sunday, and he was backed by center James Sheppard's first two-point game since the 2008-2009 season.
With the victory, the Sharks pushed their NHL-best point total to 21 on the new season, and San Jose's overall record now stands at 10-1-1.
Stalock got the start in place of regular netminder Antti Niemi, who had started the Sharks' first 11 games this season, but with back-to-back road games in Eastern Canada -- San Jose beat Montreal on Saturday -- this was as good a time as any to get the young goalie his first career start at the NHL level.
And he didn't disappoint: the Sharks gave up almost twice as many shots on net as they usually do, surrendering 40 attempts by the Senators. San Jose had been holding opponents to a mere 23.1 shots per game up until today.
But Stalock was clearly up to the task, and this bodes well for the Sharks going forward, of course, in order to make sure Niemi is well rested for the postseason.
San Jose scored three goals in the first 20 minutes to help its backup goalie off to a good start, but the Senators (4-5-2) scored once in each of the first two sessions to make it a 3-2 game going into the third period.
Just 1:29 into the third, he gave the Sharks a nice cushion when Joe Thornton stole a puck in the Ottawa zone and fed Sheppard for the goal, his first this season. Added to the assist he tallied on San Jose's first goal of the game -- Tomas Hertl's eighth of the year, just 1:18 into the contest -- and Sheppard put up his best scoring effort in almost five years.
Tommy Wingels added a short-handed goal with just 1:45 left in the first period that gave the Sharks a huge boost.
With four games down on this five-game road trip, San Jose next heads back to the West Coast to take on the Los Angeles Kings down south on Wednesday.
They'll have plenty of time to rest now, however, and savor the successful effort of this East Coast swing (3-1).