Beauty is in the eye of beholder, so for some hockey fans, the 1980s were the best: high-flying, high-scoring offenses ran up big goal numbers, and Wayne Gretzky was God.
For other fans, the defensive crackdowns of the mid-1990s forward were a thing of art, and watching Martin Brodeur ring up another shutout was as good as it got.
San Jose Sharks fans in 2013 can be thankful that their team has the capability of playing both styles of hockey — and successfully so.
The Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks last night in an overtime shootout, 3-2, and while shootouts are often just like flipping a coin, the fact San Jose even made it to the overtime session is a testament to their array of abilities.
One could argue the Ducks were the flashier team in this one, out-shooting the high-scoring Sharks, 30-18, over 65 minutes of regulation and extra time.
But San Jose had more hits (29-22), won more faceoffs (27-23) and blocked more shots (22-15) than Anaheim did, doing the little things defensively that enabled the home team to tie the game in the third period and escape to overtime — and its possibilities.
Logan Couture’s fourth goal in six games came with just 2:45 left in the third period, and the Sharks were able to overcome the Ducks’ two quick goals — less than a minute apart — from the second period.
San Jose had scored first halfway through the opening frame on Joe Pavelski’s third goal of the year.
The Sharks had won each of their previous five games by at least two goals, and while that didn’t suggest those were “easy” wins, this was surely the toughest test San Jose had faced all year.
They were down two goals to Phoenix last week in the third period, and they ended up winning by two scores.
This was something very different, especially as the clock kept winding down in the final period.
Nothing was easy for the Sharks in this one, and the Ducks didn’t give away much, either. Both teams were empty on power plays — San Jose only had two opportunities all night, while Anaheim had four.
But the Sharks’ ability to adapt to the game flow and style served them well, in terms of survival and eventual victory.
Now, San Jose is 6-0-0, and along with the Chicago Blackhawks, the top team in the National Hockey League. The Sharks have a five-point lead in the Pacific Division, and they have two more home games before they take to the road again.
Their plus-16 goal differential is also the largest in the NHL currently.
Because of the labor strife, the 2013 season is now one-eighth over already, but the San Jose Sharks are looking pretty strong right now, in many different ways.