Erik Karlsson’s incredible season for Sharks reaches new heights

It’s official: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is having the best season of his career, at least statistically.

Karlsson scored his 20th goal of the season at the 10:23 mark of the first period Thursday against the St. Louis Blues, giving him his 83rd point of the year, one more than his previous career-best of 82 set during the 2015-16 season when he was with the Ottawa Senators.

The goal also tied Karlsson with Brent Burns for the most points ever recorded in a season by a Sharks defenseman. Burns had 83 points for the Sharks in 2018-19 when they were the second-highest-scoring team in the NHL with 289 goals.

Karlsson’s 83 points are now tied for second-most in NHL history by a defenseman age 32 or older. Ray Bourque had 91 in his age-33 season in 1993-94, and Burns was 34 when he finished his 83-point season. Thursday was Burns’ 38th birthday.

With the goal, Karlsson also became just the 13th defenseman in NHL history to record 20 goals and 60 assists in the same season.

Karlsson has averaged better than a point per game in each of the last four months, and came into Thursday with five points, all assists, in four games in March.

Karlsson is on pace to become the first NHL defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1991-1992 to record 100 points in a season, a mark that would all but ensure that he would win a third Norris Trophy. Karlsson also won the award in 2012 and 2015.

Despite Karlsson’s eye-popping offensive totals, the Sharks still entered Thursday at 19-34-12, the third-worst record in the NHL ahead of only the Columbus Blue Jackets (20-37-7) and Chicago Blackhawks (22-37-5).

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Asked by Sharks analyst Drew Remenda on NBC Sports California during the first intermission if he has reflected on his now record-setting season, Karlsson said, “no. It’s all about the now. We still have games to play and that’s my concern. Once I hang them up 15 years from now, I’ll look back and reflect on this year.”

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