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>> As the calendar flipped from January to February, the San Jose Sharks turned the page on a month of sloppy defensive hockey, regaining their identity in the process.

The Sharks (28 16 8) put together another solid defensive performance Sunday, improving to 2 1 1 on their five game trip by putting together a picture perfect road game against the Carolina Hurricanes (24 21 8),

1. Sharks defensive foundation is back >> After giving up a league high 45 goals (tied with the New York Islanders) over the first 30 days of January, the Sharks are reestablishing the defensive foundation that allowed them to be the NHL stingiest team (91 goals against) over the first three months of the season.

By giving up just one goal Sunday, the Sharks have now surrendered fewer than two regulation goals in three consecutive games.

They held the Hurricanes to five shots in the first and kept them off the shot clock for a stretch of 11:58 while protecting a lead in the third period.

had a little bit of a stretch there where we were kind of loose, said goalie Aaron Dell, who made 28 saves in the win. showed over the last couple of games that we can still get our offensive chances and play solid defense. Sharks strong defensive play is being fueled by the team game at the other end of the rink. Similar to a football team that helps its defense out by possessing the ball and controlling the clock, the Sharks defensive foundation starts with a strong forecheck that tilts the ice in the offensive zone.

defense started with our offense with our o zone play, especially in the first period, head coach Pete DeBoer said. really pinned them in their zone and didn allow them to come at us with the speed that they can normally generate. Brent Burns is the irreplaceable piece of the Sharks offense >> Joe Thornton isn the irreplaceable piece of the Sharks offense. It Brent Burns.

The Sharks are trucking along without Thornton, scoring three or more goals in three of five games since he suffered a right knee injury because Burns continues to fuel the offense from the blue line.

Burns scored his ninth goal of the season at 2:03 of the second, giving the Sharks a 3 1 lead by retrieving the puck at the blue line and slapping it into the top right corner with Barclay Goodrow screening goalie Cam Ward.

It was the type of seeing eye goal that eluded Burns early in the season when he failed to score a goal in the team first 20 games. Burns also picked up an assist on Timo Meier opening goal at 4:06 of the first, giving him 19 points since Jan.1, which is tops among all NHL defensemen.

Burns leads the Sharks in shots (222) this season,
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holding an 86 shot edge over Joe Pavelski, the largest discrepancy between any team No. 1 and No. 2 shot producers in the NHL.

The catalyzing role that he plays from the blue line more than compensates for his team high minus 21 rating, which DeBoer says he care less about creates so much from that one spot on the ice and then when he gets moving in the o zone, it big for us, Pavelski said. his game is tight and to the inside on the ice going back it, he breaks up a lot of plays, and turns a lot of pucks over for us and allows us to get our rush game going. O earns praise for his recovery from potentially costly turnover >> When opportunity knocks, the last thing any player wants to do is commit a jaw dropping turnover. But Danny O found a way to turn a negative into a positive Sunday.

After failing to lock down the fourth line center job earlier in the season, O is getting another look because of Thornton injury. The Sharks rookie didn exactly draw the kind of attention from his coach that he looking for at 17:18 of the first when he spoiled a near perfect period with an ugly turnover.

O set up the Hurricanes lone goal by flipping a breakout pass onto the stick of Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal, who fed it ahead to Sebastian Aho for an easy goal in front that tied the game.

Fortunately, the Sharks regained the lead on Chris Tierney 13th goal with 36 seconds left in the period and O found a way to recover from the mishap, producing a grade A scoring chance and a 77.78 percent possession rating.

play like that at that stage of the period could ruin a guy confidence and his game, O said. Pete left me out on the ice and that was great for my confidence. Then, I had literally 18 skaters and three coaches come and give me a pat and say, don worry about it, just keep going.
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