Sharks

Sharks snap Wild's streak with 3-1 win

585172.jpg

Sharks snap Wild's streak with 3-1 win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- The red-hot Minnesota penalty kill finally met its match. His name is Patrick Marleau.Marleau tallied twice on the power play in the second period and Torrey Mitchell scored his first of the season late in the frame, as the Sharks defeated the Wild at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 3-1.San Jose is 8-1-1 since it started the season losers of three of its first four.The Wild, which entered having won their last five games, had killed off 27 straight opponent power plays before a miscue allowed Marleau to open the scoring.

With Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the box for hooking early in the second, Dan Boyle ripped a shot on net from center ice. Goalie Niklas Backstrom made the easy stop, and the puck settled in front of the net. It should have been a simple clear for either Backstrom or defenseman Justin Falk, but the two of them got their signals crossed and Marleau raced ahead to pop in the loose puck at 2:34.Boyle dumped it on the goalie and I tried to get in on the forecheck, and it was just laying right there, said Marleau. It was nice.The Wild had allowed just three goals total during their winning streak, but it took the Sharks just over 16 minutes to equal that in the second period. After his first goal, Marleau ripped home a one-timer on a cross-ice feed from Ryane Clowe for another one on the man advantage at 15:34.Torrey Mitchells first of the season at 18:39 was the backbreaker. He fired in a one-timer immediately following an offensive zone faceoff win by Michal Handzus on a set play.Handzus saw something and said line up here and one-time it, said Mitchell. So I said, yes sir.The goal was especially important as the Wild seemed deflated at the start of the third period. They didnt register their first shot on goal until almost nine minutes had passed.Two goals, youre still in it. Three, youre starting to doubt yourself, said Mitchell. It was a really big one for us, so yeah, it was huge and probably took some wind out of them, for sure.It sure was a big one, agreed Todd McLellan. To get to three certainly helped. Theyre not a team thats scored a lot, they prevent a lot. And, faceoffs have been an issue for us. We havent had our numbers where we wanted them to be at, so for Zeus to win that draw and Mitchy to put it in was a real good thing for our team.The Wild managed to ruin Antti Niemis shutout bid with a goal by Kyle Brodziak at 13:33 of the third, but the Sharks goalie held the fort for his second straight win and sixth overall with 21 saves. Backstrom took the loss, allowing three goals on 36 shots.The game, though, was more about the final score. Sharks Brent Burns and Martin Havlat were playing against the Wild for the first time since the two teams pulled off several offseason trades over the summer. Conversely, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley played in their old building for the first time this season.Burns, who registered an assist on the first goal, admitted the win felt good but that hes glad its now in the past.It was good to get it over with, he said. Im sure the first one in Minny is going to be the same thing, but its good to get this one over with.McLellan also seemed content to put the game behind him, and not just for his own clubs sake.I think what happened tonight was those players that were moved in this deal realized they have new homes now, said the coach. Its good for us, and certainly good for them. Seto and Heatley had great games, but I think now that its over they realize they have new homes and its time to really settle in and contribute to both organizations.The Sharks have now won three games this season in which one of their key players was facing off against a former club. Long time Devils defenseman Colin White visited his old team earlier this season, while any time Joe Thornton visits Boston it seems to be newsworthy. The Sharks beat the Devils on Oct. 21, 4-3, and the Bruins the next night, 4-2.Burns thinks thats no coincidence.It was a big summer with the trades and everything. We went on the road to New Jersey, and Boston, and I think every game is big. But, when there are games like that, knowing in the room that that guy wants to winit was good, he said.The Sharks also got a good performance from their much-maligned penalty kill, which entered the game ranked 29th out of 30. San Jose killed off all three Wild power plays, after instituting a new system that emphasizes making it more difficult to bring the puck through the neutral zone.It takes everybody on the ice on the PK, and everybody was ready tonight, said Marleau.McLellan said: We did execute some of the things we wanted to following our practices.The Sharks continue their six-game homestand with the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. They are 3-0-1 through the first four.Odds and ends: Justin Braun got his first point of the season, assisting on Marleaus first goal. McLellan tried some new defense pairs for the majority of the game, playing Burns with White and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Braun. Niemi is 4-0 against the Wild all-time, while Backstrom fell to 1-6-1 against the Sharks in his career. The Wild are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games at HP Pavilion.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

sharks-us.jpg
USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

sharks-canadiens-win-ap.jpg
AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.