The "Best Of 2011-12" is a weekly feature of the best moments from this past Sharks season. Here is a compilation of some of the top moments during the 2011-12 season. Check out the list and vote on which moment you believe was the best from this past year.
The San Jose Sharks opened the 2011-12 season with a bang, defeating the division rival Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 in front of the home crowd at HP Pavilion. Joe Pavelski got the fireworks going by registering the first Sharks goal of the year and he would later tally another. Rookie forward Andrew Desjardins also scored twice, including the game winner.
JUMBO'S 1,000TH GAME
Sharks captain Joe Thornton hit a career milestone during the team's first extended road trip of the season. Jumbo eclipsed 1,000 career NHL games played on Friday, Oct. 21 in New Jersey. Thornton scored the Sharks first goal that night and helped send it to OT later in the evening. (Watch teammate Logan Couture highlight the moment as one of his favorites from the first half of the season) When the team returned, the captain was honored in front of his home crowd during a ceremony in which he was presented the customary silver stick honoring the achievement and an uncustomary woolly mammoth tusk given from his teammates.
FIVE IN A ROW
After losing three straight games early in the Sharks 2011-12 season, the team looked to right the ship. On the following road trip, the Sharks rattled off five straight wins against some tough competition while juggling the trials of the road. The fifth win was capped by an exciting 3-2 overtime winner from Sharks newcomer Brent Burns, who registered his first multi-point game in teal.
RIVALRY RENEWED WITH VANCOUVER
Fresh off a heated Western Conference Finals showdown, the Sharks and Canucks decided to bring in the New Year with back-to-back games that threw more fuel to the fire. San Jose dropped the initial contest on Dec. 28 in a heartbreaking overtime defeat, but was able to gather revenge in Vancouver, pulling out a gritty shootout win. The Sharks and Canucks were also privileged to play in the newly branded NBC Sports Network's inaugural NHL broadcast.
LOGAN COUTURE'S ALL-STAR NOD
A year removed from representing his rookie class during the skills competition portion of the All-Star Weekend, Sharks forward Logan Couture was honored with his first NHL All-Star selection. This time around, Couture had the privilege of playing in the All-Star Game, but that also meant he was subject to the weekend's fantasy style draft to decide the sides. Couture waited to hear his name until the final spot was left, where the dubious honor was accompanied with a brand new car and a donation in his name to a charity.
NEMO'S BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS
Surrounding Couture's All-Star Weekend, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi decided to show off his skills by posting back-to-back shutouts. After keeping the Calgary Flames off the board during a 1-0 victory, Niemi answered the call again, shutting out the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-0 just after the All-Star break,. Niemi stopped 55 total shots to record his third and fourth shutouts of the season.
OWEN NOLAN HANGS 'EM UP
Former Sharks captain Owen Nolan officially retired after 18 seasons in the NHL on February 7, 2012. He did so as a member of the San Jose Sharks family, in front of an admiring crowd of loyal fans. Nolan's passionate and bruising style of play over exactly 1,200 games earned him the hearts and respect of many.
BEASTS AGAINST THE EAST
The Sharks finished a respectable 7-3 against Eastern Conference teams that qualified for the playoffs. They did so by grinding out victories during some key times and over tough opponents. San Jose swept home-and-home series against defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and a talent laden Washington Capitals squad. They also added key victories over the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers at important moments.
DOMINATION OVER DALLAS
It's rare there are sweeter victories than those coming against division rivals. For the 2011-12 season, the Sharks tasted that sweetness often against the Dallas Stars. Topping their rival five times, the only blemish came in a mid-season shootout loss. Combined, the Sharks scored 25 goals and limited the Stars with a stingy 1.65 goals-against average.
RACE TO THE PLAYOFFS
The Sharks found themselves in unfamiliar territory near the end of the 2011-12 season, needing to win just to qualify for the playoffs. They did just that, winning seven of their final nine games, including four straight wins over the Stars and Kings in a pair of home-and-home series to end the regular season. In the final two games, the Sharks defeated the Kings by climbing back from two-goal deficits each game.