Sharks' Timo Meier reaping rewards with new linemates on hot streak


Timo Meier is making the most of his time with his new linemates. 

The Sharks winger now has six points (three goals, three assists) in four games since joining veteran center Joe Thornton and winger Kevin Labanc on a line, including the game-winning goal in Friday night's 3-2 comeback victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. 

"I think the biggest thing is we're trying to have fun and work with each other, have a lot of talk out there which makes it easy," Meier said of Thornton and Labanc in an interview with Sharks broadcasters Randy Hahn and Bret Hedican after the game. "We all know what Jumbo's capable of, but we're just trying to follow his lead ... and doing everything we can in our hands as a line to try to have team success."

The trio turned in their best game together Friday night. The Sharks out-shot the Jets 8-2 and out-chanced them 7-5 with the trio on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to Natural Stat Trick. Labanc and Meier combined for eight shots on goal at all strengths, finishing first and second, respectively, among Sharks skaters. 

Meier has led the way for his new line, and the Sharks as a whole, at even strength over the last four games. He is tied for the team lead in 5-on-5 shots (11), while leading the team in expected goals (1.5) and high-danger chances (eight) since the change. 

"He's playing heavy," teammate Evander Kane told reporters Friday night in Winnipeg. "He's skating. He's a big, powerful guy with a good scoring touch. When he goes hard to the net, he can finish. That was another example of that tonight."

The 23-year-old Meier was expected to take another leap forward in his fourth NHL season. Meier scored 30 goals for the first time in his career in 2018-19, and the Sharks hoped he, Labanc and other young forwards would fill the void left by departing captain Joe Pavelski and wingers Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist. 

[RELATED: Should Sharks retire Jumbo, Patty's jerseys on same night?]

The Sharks, as a whole, haven't met expectations and Meier is well of his 30-goal pace from a year ago. Scoring 25 this season remains within his grasp, however. Friday's game-winning goal was his 19th of the season, so Meier now is one goal shy of becoming only the fourth Shark to score 20 goals in three of their first four seasons. 

Only three Sharks have at least three 20-goal seasons before turning 24 (Jeff Friesen, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture), and Meier should join them soon enough.

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