Sharks takeaways: What we learned in memorable 2-1 win over Stars


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in memorable 2-1 win over Stars


SAN JOSE -- Facing the Dallas Stars for the first time this season on Saturday night, the Sharks posted their second straight win at SAP Center, this time by a score of 2-1. San Jose fell behind early, as the Stars scored within first two minutes of the game, but goalie Aaron Dell didn't let anything past him for the remainder of the contest while the Sharks stormed back.

It was a memorable night for Sharks fans, as not one but two former captains hit milestones. One was facing his former team for the very first time, while the other played in his 1,700th career game.

With the win, San Jose achieved the maximum four possible points on this brief two-game homestand.

Here are the takeaways from a tightly-fought, entertaining game:

The former captain

Even before he took the ice Saturday night, all eyes were on Joe Pavelski. The Stars' forward returned to the only arena he had ever called home prior to the current season, and conceded that it would be a tad "awkward" to face the teal sweaters rather than be wearing one. There was no awkwardness whatsover, though, when a video tribute covering memories from Pavelski's 13 seasons with the Sharks was played on the jumbotron before puck drop. The SAP Center crowd responded with a very long, very loud standing ovation, and gave him several loud cheers at different points of the game.

Once the game started, however, Pavelski was all business -- as you'd expect. He played over 18 minutes of ice time, won nearly two-thirds of his face-offs, recorded two shots on goal and blocked three. San Jose managed to keep him off the scoresheet, but there definitely were plays he made that looked awfully familiar.

Fitting with the theme of the night, Sharks forward Stefan Noesen appeared to score a very Pavelski-like goal in the first period with a tip-in deflection, but it was immediately waved off due to a high touch.

The other former captain

The spotlight was on Pavelski, but Patrick Marleau stole some of it.

He became just the fifth player in NHL history to play in 1,700 career games, but Marleau wasn't some uninvolved bystander. Quite the opposite, actually. He was flying around the ice all night, and was rewarded for his efforts when he punched in a rebound in the second period to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead. Of the players to appear in 1,700 games, Marleau is the only one to score in the milestone game.

He might not move quite like he used to, but Marleau can still absolutely fly. Not bad for a 40-year-old.

The alternate captain

The Sharks got a big scare when defenseman Brent Burns went to the locker room in the second period following a collision with Dallas winger Roope Hintz. Burns did not return to the ice for the remainder of the period, nor was he there for the start of the third period. He did return, however, midway through the third, and managed to come up with a couple big stops to keep San Jose in front.

After seeing the current captain Logan Couture suffer a fractured ankle a couple games ago, the Sharks can ill afford to lose another major contributor for any period of time.

How Sharks' Joe Thornton taught Rick Nash to be a pro in Switzerland


How Sharks' Joe Thornton taught Rick Nash to be a pro in Switzerland

Joe Thornton currently is in his 15th season with the Sharks after being acquired by San Jose in a trade with the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 NHL season. He spent the previous year in Davos, Switzerland while the league remained in lockout, where he paired up with one of the NHL's rising young stars.

More than a decade-and-a-half later, Rick Nash still fondly remembers the time he spent playing alongside one of the most prolific passers to ever play the sport.

"When me and Joe first played together in Switzerland, it was really kind of instant chemistry," Nash recalled to NBC Sports California. "For the first couple games, we played together. On the power play, we played the whole season together. The easy thing about playing with Jumbo was he told you, 'Just go to the net with your stick down. Go to the high slot with your stick on the ice and I'll find you.' We had a lot of success with that over the years, at World Championships, obviously in Davos.

"He's such an easy guy to play with and his skill is so high and his passing ability is so high, it just makes sense why he has that many assists in the NHL."

At last check, Thornton was up to 1,082 career assists, good enough for seventh place on the NHL's all-time list. You don't accumulate that many helpers without being supremely skilled, but as Nash explained, Thornton always has brought a lot more to the table than what he could do with the puck.

"The thing that made Joe different from other teammates was, No. 1, off the ice, he was always a happy guy, always had a smile on his face," Nash said. "He was always around the rink. For me, being a younger guy, he was someone I looked up to on how to be a pro, how to extend my career, how to be good to the other guys that I was kind of taking under my wing. On the ice, it was obviously his skill to make plays and make passes. 

"For me and my style of game, I was always a shooter. I always liked to score goals, so we kind of accompanied each other perfectly. To this day, I don't think there's an easier guy to play with than Joe."

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To spend 22 seasons in the NHL -- and one in the top Swiss league -- it requires not only an abundance of talent, but competitiveness to match. According to Nash, while he has seen plenty of Thornton's competitive streak on the ice, he experienced it off of it, as well. Specifically, when it came to the board game of world domination known as "Risk."

"We started this game with his brothers and his friends and my friends," Nash explained with a chuckle. "Dinner time would roll around, and we would bring the Risk board to dinner. So if you could only imagine trying to keep all those pieces on the board driving the car through the Swiss mountains to get to dinner to set up our Risk game, and once we got there, guys would be arguing about how many soldiers they had on which country. 

"It was always that stuff away from the rink that made hanging out with him so fun."

The Sharks know as well as anyone just how fun and talented Thornton can be. While world domination is a lofty goal, they'd all gladly settle for a Stanley Cup.

NHL rumors: Sharks' Brenden Dillon of interest to Bruins, 'half dozen' teams


NHL rumors: Sharks' Brenden Dillon of interest to Bruins, 'half dozen' teams

The market for Brenden Dillon is heating up. It's sounding like more of a "when" rather than an "if" the Sharks' defenseman will be moved.

In a season where very little has gone right for San Jose, Dillon has been one of the few, consistent bright spots. He has appeared in every game while averaging over 19 minutes of ice time, and he leads all Sharks' defensemen in plus-minus. According to TSN Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the closer the NHL gets to the trade deadline, the more teams reportedly are inquiring about the blue-liner who is on pace to lead the Sharks in hits for the fourth straight season. 

"Most definitely the Winnipeg Jets are in the market for a specific top-four defenseman," Dreger reported Tuesday. "Now, it could be a rental player, it could be a player with some term. They're not ruling out anything at this point."

Dillon is in the final year of his contract and is due to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, so he would fall into the rental category. Given the price Dillon is likely to command, that might not be ideal for Winnipeg, but Dreger noted that the Dustin Byfuglien situation -- as well as Bryan Little and Adam Lowry's respective recoveries from injury -- could force the Jets' hand.

LeBrun agreed that Dillon would make plenty of sense for Winnipeg, but didn't stop there.

"I don't think he would be on the top of their list, but certainly on the list of players that the Jets would have compiled already, I think Brenden Dillon would be on there somewhere," LeBrun said. "Pending UFA, he's a defenseman that's going to be dealt by the San Jose Sharks. He's a No. 4 for some teams, a No. 5 for others. I can tell you half-a-dozen teams so far have shown interest, including, I'm told, the Boston Bruins. Obviously a rugged, defensive defenseman in Brenden Dillon would be a nice fit there in Boston. Carolina Hurricanes, who just lost Dougie Hamilton, have also been among the teams that have shown interest." 

"It will not be an issue moving Brenden Dillon," LeBrun summarized. "The question is what can San Jose get out of it? I think it's probably going to be a second-round pick, and maybe a prospect."

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The Sharks are still holding out hope for a playoff push, but whether or not they are successful in that pursuit, Dillon might be of more value to them elsewhere.