Sharks

Sharks win in OT 3-2

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Sharks win in OT 3-2

BOX SCORE

UNIONDALE, NY Listening to a subdued Logan Couture after the Sharks defeated the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, and you would have no idea that the Sharks had just closed the book on their fifth straight win.

It was just a tough night for us," said Couture. We werent coming through the neutral zone, they were much quicker than us, they are a fast team and they skated better than us.

That may all be true, but the Sharks, playing their second game in as many nights after the Islanders had off on Friday, found a way to keep their road trip perfect with a 3-2 overtime triumph. Brent Burns perfectly placed wrist shot on the power play at 1:07 of the extra session means that San Jose can go a perfect 6-0 on their journey with a victory over the struggling New York Rangers on Monday night.

Burns took a pass from Joe Pavelski and fired it high over the shoulder of Rick DiPietro for his third goal of the season. With San Jose on Day 11 of a 13-day trek, Burns admitted that fatigue was a factor against the Islanders.

I think we were a little tired maybe more mental than physical, but its a sign of a good team to survive and come out with two points, he said.

San Jose didnt have its skating legs up front, but solid team defense in front of Thomas Greiss was the biggest reason the Sharks were able to hang with and eventually overtake the young and feisty Islanders.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, in particular, made some huge plays in the third period with the game tied 2-2. He neutralized John Tavares when the Isles leading scorer threatened to go in on a breakaway, and later hurried back in his own zone to snuff an attempt by Michael Grabner.

His biggest play came on a three-on-two shorthanded rush by the Isles, though, when he broke up a cross-ice pass towards Grabner with his stick with less than three minutes left in regulation.

I knew they would do that, especially with him using his speed, said Vlasic. I just made sure to get the stick on the puck. I had a good jump, came back early, and I was able to get the puck off of him.

Vlasic's strong game was especially important as Dan Boyle was under the weather, Todd McLellan later informed the media.

Another tremendous game for him, on a night when one of our key guys played sick on the back end, said the head coach. He logged a lot of minutes and he and Burnsie were probably our best pair. He defended a guy like Grabner who can fly 100 miles an hour with a very good stick there at one point. Just a very reliable, trusty guy for us.

The rest of the team stood tall in front of Thomas Greiss, who was making his first start since October 15 vs. St. Louis. Greiss looked a little shaky through the first 10 minutes or so, but was able to settle down shortly thereafter. He finished with 35 saves, and the Sharks did a good job at keeping the Islanders to the outside and clearing the puck from the goal mouth after Griess made the initial stop.

I had to stop the first and the rest they took care of, so it made my life a little easier, said Greiss. I was a little rusty at the start and let a couple bad rebounds, but overall I was happy. You just try to stay sharp in practice and be ready to go.

Joe Pavelski scored just 17 seconds into the game with Steve Staios in the box on a cross-check. Paveslki found the rebound of a shot off of the post by Burns for the fastest power play goal to start a game in Sharks franchise history.

The Islanders responded with two straight in the second to take their first lead. Greiss stopped a point shot and then rebound attempt at the front of the net by Matt Moulson, but the puck ended up on the stick of Tavares and he easily fired in his seventh goal.

Later, with Pavelski in the box for delay of game, Grabner cut through the slot and whizzed by Burns before converting a centering pass from Kyle Okposo at 11:28 for the Isles second power play goal of the game.

Couture was the recipient of a fortunate bounce when he tied it up less than two minutes later. Burns threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off of defenseman Mark Streit right to the stick of Couture in the slot, and the Sharks forward wristed it past DiPietro.

I just let it go, quick. I dont even know where it went, said Couture.

The Sharks may have been a little lucky in overtime. Travis Hamonic was whistled for a delay of game penalty just 29 seconds in, and vehemently disputed the call, saying the puck tipped off of the glass.

I heard from some others that it went off the glass, said McLellan. Those calls even out throughout the course of the year.

Most of the Sharks will have the day off in New York on Sunday before trying to conclude the road trip with a perfect mark against the Rangers the following day.

Tomorrow is a rest day. Monday is a work day, said McLellan.
Odds and ends: Okposo threw a nasty elbow to Boyle's face in the third period, and was called for a minor. Dont be surprised if the league takes a look at that one. McLellan made some changes to his lineup before the game. Playing alongside Michal Handzus on the third line were Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Murray, while Jamie McGinn was demoted to the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Brad Winchester. On defense, Jason Demers played in his first game since last Friday in New Jersey, paired with Colin White. Benn Ferreiro, Jim Vandermeer and Justin Braun were the Sharks scratches. The Islanders honored 10 members of their 1992-93 team before the game. Dont remember that team? It was the year Pierre Turgeon scored the winning goal against Washington and was promptly steamrolled by Dale Hunter. The previous franchise mark for fastest power play goal was Oct. 24, 2008, when Joe Thornton scored 51 seconds after the opening faceoff.

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.