The depth scoring that has been missing most of the season for the San Jose Sharks finally showed up in a big way.
Tomas Hertl scored twice and Matt Nieto, Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi also snapped goal-scoring droughts to help the Sharks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 Saturday for their most lopsided shutout since 2001.
“It has certainly been lacking,” said Tommy Wingels, who assisted on the goals by Nieto and Donskoi for his second multipoint game of the season. “There’s a lot of prideful guys in here and guys that think they can do more. There’s a lot of guys, myself included, who need to do more. That’s the only way this team is going to have success.
Brent Burns started a four-goal, second-period outburst with a highlight-reel move and Joe Pavelski also scored to help the Sharks end a lacklustre homestand on a bright note. San Jose went 2-3 during a two-week stretch at the Shark Tank and has the worst home record in the league at 6-12-0.
Martin Jones made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and San Jose won its seventh straight against Toronto. The Sharks’ last 7-0 win was over Chicago on Feb. 14, 2001.
“Can’t ask for much more,” said defenceman Justin Braun, who had a career-high three assists. “Scoring, goalie played great. It was one of those games that you draw up, and it works out that way.”
Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves for the Maple Leafs and Toronto lost the final two games of its three-game California swing. Bernier had allowed just three goals in winning his past three starts before struggling against San Jose.
“The way we got beat tonight I don’t know how you want me to explain it,” defenceman Dion Phaneuf said. “We got beat handily in their building. We started out fine. I thought we were skating. They seemed to turn the tide in the second period and we couldn’t respond.”
It started with Burns’ impressive individual effort. He passed himself the puck at centre ice and then skated by Phaneuf in the Toronto zone before beating Bernier high to the glove side for his 17th goal.
It looked as if Toronto had a chance to get even on the power play, but a bad change did the Maple Leafs in. Burns cleared the puck from the defensive zone and the Leafs started to change thinking the puck would go back to Bernier.
But the puck stopped halfway into the Toronto zone along the boards. Tommy Wingels retrieved it and fed Nieto for the easy tap-in goal that made it 2-0.
“We should have changed earlier instead of trying to milk it one more time and they caught us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Until then, I thought we were still good. We got off kilter and they came at us.”
Hertl then set up Pavelski from behind the net for the third goal and knocked in a rebound of Justin Braun’s point shot later in the period to make it 4-0 and match San Jose’s highest-scoring period of the season. The Sharks also scored four times in the third in a 5-3 win at Columbus on Nov. 22, with the final goal coming into an empty net.
The Sharks turned it into a laugher in the third with goals from Karlsson, Donskoi and Hertl. San Jose finally found the depth scoring it had been lacking. Hertl had two goals in his previous 34 games, Nieto had one goal in 19 games, Donskoi one goal in 20 games and Karlsson had one goal in 18 games.
“Our depth guys were good,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s what we need. Again, we just have to make sure we build on it. We’ve been in this situation a few times this year and haven’t turned it into something else, and we have to make sure we do that.”
NOTES: This was Toronto’s most lopsided shutout loss since an 8-0 loss at Boston on March 19, 2012. ... The team that has scored first has won all 18 games in San Jose this season. ... Wingels fought Phaneuf in the second period in response to a hard hit on Logan Couture near the boards.