For the first time since the 2006-07 NHL season, the San Jose Sharks were in a game that had two natural hat tricks. It was their turn to have the second trick carry them to victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, January 18.
Seven seasons ago, it was Ryan Smyth for the Edmonton Oilers answering San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo to get the win. In the 2013-14 NHL season, it was Joe Pavelski lifting his team in response to Tampa's Martin St. Louis. There are three other pictured stars of this game that had a little bit of everything.
For one, it had in-house drama.
The best move Steve Yzerman made for North Florida was to leave the Lightning captain off Team Canada. It has to be comforting to Pavelski and anyone following Team USA hockey to avoid facing St. Louis, who now has eight goals and three assists in the seven-game point streak that started right after being left off the projected gold-medal team.
He thus gave this game scoring. After pushing the play all period, he made it count with about eight minutes left in the first: Teddy Purcell fed Tyler Johnson, who tossed one from behind the goal line through the slot for an easy weak-side, one-timer goal.
That ended a streak of six games without a failed penalty kill for the Sharks, but they sandwiched two goals around it to grab the lead. The new second line of Patrick Marleau centering Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels was responsible for both.
The first came just 2:10 before the first St. Louis goal. Marleau got the puck from Wingels and gave it to Nieto, who skated around one defender and fired from the right circle. His shot came off the stick of another who then kicked it off his back skate, where the San Jose rookie slapped it just beyond the considerable reach of Ben Bishop's right pad.
The second came within a minute of the first St. Louis goal: Wingels got the puck to Nieto along the boards, who doubled back and fed Marleau near the faceoff dot for the one-timer goal through traffic. That lead would not even stand for three minutes.
After making a save, Bishop played the puck to Jean-Philippe Cote, who found St. Louis skating up for a breakaway. Antti Niemi continued his good early play making the save, but the adept winger swatted the loose puck in from behind his back skate without turning around.
With 30 seconds left before the first intermission, Mark Barberio fed J.T. Brown for a shot that St. Louis deflected in for the hat trick. He made it a natural hat trick (three unanswered goals) on another power play just over two minutes into the second—almost a mirror image of the first, except this time it was Johnson feeding Purcell up the boards for the cross-slot pass.
The Sharks were down two goals and had to endure the most egregious flop by a goalie in franchise history. Finally, Jason Demers fed Tyler Kennedy attacking with speed, who passed it across the slot for Pavelski to start his natural hat trick with just over seven minutes left in the second period.
Thanks to an Eric Brewer penalty, he needed just 21 seconds to get his second. Marleau fed Dan Boyle, whose slap shot came off to a knocked-down Pavelski. After getting up to his knees, the scrappy guy sometimes called "Pokey" by his teammates swept the puck in for his 23rd two-goal game.
That number was third-most among active NHL players until exactly one minute remained in the second period.
Ironically, he had thought he had his first hat trick once before only to have a goal taken away. This time, it appeared a goal belonged to a Matt Irwin shot from the point off a Joe Thornton feed. Then they gave Brent Burns credit for a deflection they did not announce was actually Pavelski's until about 12 minutes were left in the game.
The third period was surprisingly defensive: San Jose only took five shots and only allowed six, none of which got by either goalie.
Tampa Bay broke even or had the edge in possession (39-30 faceoffs making up for a 3-7 deficit in takeaways and one more giveaway) but still managed to match their guests with 19 hits and blocked more shots (15-13). Yet San Jose attempted just as many shots (58), got three more on net (32-29) and one more into the back of it.
When you beat a team that is good on their ice, that is always a good performance.