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SAN JOSE — It might just have qualified as the most emotional game the Sharks have played this season.
After Brent Burns scored in overtime, maybe it was their most important win so far this season as well.
Burns scored with 1:50 left in overtime, giving the Sharks a wild 5-4 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday and snapping a season-long six-game losing streak.
Getting offensive contributions from a handful of depth forwards, the Sharks, who had clinched a playoff spot earlier Tuesday, kept pace with Edmonton and Anaheim in the Pacific Division with another huge game coming up Thursday against the Oilers.
“We needed a win. That’s the bottom line. We needed a win, whatever it looked like,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “I’m glad it looked the way it did because I thought we strung some really good stretches where I thought we looked like we should look.
“The fact we won and got that monkey off our back and how we won and how we looked for long periods makes me feel good about it.”
Burns one-timed a pass from Joe Pavelski for his 28th goal of the season and his first goal since Feb. 18, a stretch of 16 games.
“Yeah on both accounts,” Burns said when asked about ending the losing streak and his own personal goal drought. “That was a big win, especially coming back, staying resilient, getting that big goal there at the end.”
Chris Tierney might have scored the biggest goal of the month for the Sharks late in the third period.
Tierney tied the game with 2:15 to go in the third. After Mikkel Boedker put a shot toward the net, Jannik Hansen backhanded the loose puck to Tierney, who had nothing but an open net to look at for his ninth goal of the season.
It capped one of the best games of the season for several of the Sharks’ depth forwards.
Tierney scored twice, Boedker had two assists, Hansen had a goal and an assist and Melker Karlsson, in his first game back after he missed eight straight with a lower body injury, scored shorthanded for his 10th of the season.
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple games now in this little streak,” Tierney said about the depth players needing to contribute more on offense. “We want to score. All the depth guys know and talked about stepping up.
“It’s good that we broke through tonight, especially with Logan out of the lineup. We’re going to have to keep doing it throughout the playoffs.”
The Sharks had already clinched a playoff spot earlier Tuesday thanks to Los Angeles’ 2-1 regulation time loss to Edmonton, the 19th time in franchise history they have reached the postseason. The win over the Rangers made the night that much sweeter.
Before Tierney’s goal, the Sharks let slip a two-goal lead and seemed on their way to their most heartbreaking loss in recent memory.
After the Sharks took a 3-1 lead on Tierney’s goal with 11:38 to go in the second period, Derek Stepan scored on the power play with 23 seconds left in the second to cut the deficit to one.
The Rangers then got an even strength goal from Jesper Fast and another power play goal, this one the winner from J.T. Miller for a 4-3 Rangers lead with 15:16 left in the third period.
“Whether you think like, ‘here we go again or not,’ if there was a thought – I’m sure someone in this building thought that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Whether it was on our bench or not, the feeling was we were still going to get this. They make a couple plays on power plays, and all of a sudden we find ourselves down.
“But guys just kind of stuck with it and we believed we would tie it up tonight.”
The Sharks have now reached the postseason in 12 of the last 13 seasons, missing only in 2014-15.
“We’re not throwing any parades for clinching the playoffs,” DeBoer said. “It’s an accomplishment. You want one of those 16 spots. Then it all starts again. There’s a lot of work put into that. But that’s not our goal here. Our goals are bigger than that.”
The Sharks are now three points ahead of fourth place Calgary in the Pacific Division. The Sharks can still finish as high as first place in the division or in the second wild card spot.
More pressing, the Sharks need to reestablish some good habits over the next six games. After Tuesday, they start a three-game road trip through Western Canada, starting Thursday in Edmonton.
“We needed to win and that we did,” DeBoer said. “We’ll get ready for Thursday.”