Sharks

Sharks stay perfect on road trip with 3-1 win

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Sharks stay perfect on road trip with 3-1 win

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Sharks came out of the gate with three losses in their first four games despite out-chancing their opponents on a nightly basis, the players and their coach repeated the same mantra: as long as the scoring opportunities were there from key players, the goals would come.Thats exactly the case now, as Joe Pavelski,Logan Couture,Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat all registered points in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Sharks (4-3) moved above the .500 mark for the first time since opening night, and improved to a perfect 3-0 on their road trip.Pavelski scored twice, including the game-winner at 14:09 of the third period. It came just 57 seconds after the Predators tied the score at 1-1 with a power play goal.

Just as they did against New Jersey on Friday when they fell behind late, and Saturday in Boston when they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period, the Sharks kept their heads up and pulled out a victory.Were just confident, said Joe Thornton, who assisted on both of Pavelskis goals and now has 700 career helpers. It doesnt matter if its a tie game or late in the game, we still have confidence we can pull games out. Thats a good sign, I guess. We rarely panic, and were showing that.Nobody panicked, agreed Todd McLellan, describing his feeling from the bench after Nashville tied the score. We stuck with the plan, and weve played in some tough buildings on this trip so far against some very good teams and found ways to win.Again, it was Pavelski who came through in the clutch. The 27-year-old winger, whose last minute score on Friday forced overtime against the Devils, described the goal that ended up being the difference. Stationed behind the net with the puck, he spied goaltender Pekka Rinne leaning the wrong way before tucking it inside the post.I kind of saw that through the net, he said. Hes big, and just needs a flick of his toe and hes over there. He was coming, and I was glad to see it went through.Pavelski added an empty net goal with 1:12 left to cap the scoring, and now has six total on the season, leading the team. In fact, no other player on the Sharks has more than two.Pavelski, who was shifted to the top line with Thornton and Marleau at the start of training camp, modestly downplayed his early success.Its a good number, but it doesnt mean anything right now. It meant we got the win tonight, but when you suit up the next game your numbers really dont matter, he said. Its about production in the moment, and not getting ahead of yourself and just keep getting those chances. Hopefully, you just keep building.McLellan gave Pavelski, and the top line in general, a little more credit.Thats what he gets paid to do, is play a very good two-way game, McLellan said. I thought that line played a very good game tonight. Big down low, strong cycle, and on the power play, even though we werent fortunate to score one, they moved the puck around pretty good. Theyre starting to gel, and thats a good sign.The Sharks took the lead at 14:22 of the opening period with their first shorthanded goal of the season. Havlat released a quick shot from the slot and Couture got behind the Nashville defense to flick home the rebound.The assist was Havlats third in three games with the Sharks.Basically out of nothing, Havlat created a play, McLellan said. He is a gifted player and thats why weve got him here. I think hes only going to get better as the year goes on.Its actually a play, two-on-two that we work on in practice all the time, said Couture, who has found instant chemistry with his new linemate in scoring his second goal in as many games. Marty made a great play cutting to the middle and I was able to get behind their d-men, and Rinne usually doesnt leave those rebounds like that.The score remained 1-0 until the offensively impaired Preds took advantage of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty toRyane Clowe.After Jordan Tootoo sent Couture hard to the ice with what looked to be a clean hit, Clowe dropped his gloves and grabbed the Nashville instigator. Tootoo wisely refrained from fighting, putting his team on the man advantage. On the ensuing power play, Shea Webers hard wrist shot was stopped by Antti Niemi, but Craig Smith found the loose puck in the crease and slid it home.Brent Burns broke his stick seconds earlier, making it even more difficult for the Sharks to clear the puck after they had been strong on the penalty kill up to that point.Clowe didnt hide his displeasure with the call.Its a brutal call. The guy runs across the ice, hits Coutch there, and I just ... whats the call? I just dropped the gloves. I didnt do anything. I didnt hit him or punch him. I dont even think I shoved him. I picked up my gloves again and got two minutes. Its hockey.Clowe is being very noble and sticking up for a teammate that he has a ton of respect for, McLellan said. Were pleased that hes willing to do that. I thought the timing was a little bit poor. Sometimes you have to take a lump to win a game.Clowe was happy to see his teammates respond with Pavelskis goal soon afterwards.That was great, he said. We deserved to win, anyway. We were the better team and played real solid tonight. It was tough that they tied it but it was great for those guys to kind of bail me out.Odds and ends: The Sharks used their same lineup as Saturday in Boston. Torrey Mitchell remained out but could return on Friday in Detroit. Thornton and Patrick Marleau assisted on both of Pavelskis goals. The Sharks outshot the Predators, 36-20. San Jose was 0-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon made their season debuts for the Predators. Bouillon drew a minor penalty to Brad Winchester in the second period for an illegal check to the head, and started a shoving match with Winchester immediately after the play.

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

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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

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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.