Marleau's hat trick lifts Sharks over Avalanche

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Marleau's hat trick lifts Sharks over Avalanche

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- Playing in the second half of a back-to-back, especially after an intensely physical affair the night before, its up to the leaders to get the team through nights where it may not be at its best.Patrick Marleau certainly qualifies as one of those influential few on the Sharks. With a three-goal performance keying a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night at Pepsi Center, its easy to see why.Marleau scored one goal in each of the three periods to record his first hat trick since November 27, 2009. The Sharks won their third straight game overall, including both road games this weekend after an emotional 4-1 win in Dallas on Saturday night.

Thats what you want out of a road trip like this, said Marleau. Two pretty hard fought games. Well take that, and now we have to carry it over.Its your big guys leading on days where the team maybe isnt playing as well as it can, or its a little lethargic, said Todd McLellan, noting that captain Joe Thornton had three assists on the night.With the score 1-1 after the first, Marleau scored his second of the night and Joe Pavelski added his team-leading 11th to give San Jose a two-goal lead at the second intermission.The Sharks took their first lead of the game when Marleau beautifully tipped in a low shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 7:35 of the second period.That goal held up as the game-winner, and may have been a case of practice-makes-perfect.I got it up the wall and put it to the net as quickly as possible, said Vlasic, who had the primary assist on all three of Marleaus goals. Weve actually been practicing high tips, and Patty did a great job tipping it in.Later in the second, Thornton set up shop behind the net and fed Pavelski in the circle for a one-timer at 16:47. Overall, the Sharks have outscored the opposition 30-11 in the second period, including a combined 7-0 during their three-game winning streak.Thomas Greiss did the rest, finishing with 36 saves. The Avalanche outshot the Sharks 37-18 in all, although the defense corps did a good job for most of the night in keeping the shots to the outside and letting the goaltender track it down.Most of the shots were like from the blue line or the perimeter, said Greiss. It was pretty good. Most times I could see the puck right into my chest. It was a really good job by the D.Greiss improved to 4-3, and improved his goals-against average to 1.99 and save percentage to .929.Thats why we feel good about Thomas, because he can pitch those games, said McLellan.Greiss was making his first start since Nov. 12, when the Sharks failed to crack the scoreboard in a 3-0 loss to Phoenix their only defeat in the last six games (5-1-0).It was good to get a win again, especially after last game, to bounce back.The Sharks also played disciplined a necessity against the Avalanche, who sport the NHLs second best power play. Colorado was just 0-for-1 with a man advantage, while the Sharks were 1-for-6, with the one coming on Marleaus empty-netter with 43 seconds left.Some late minor penalties to Brandon Yip and Erik Johnson helped to nullify some momentum that was building for the Avalanche, when they were applying their best offensive pressure of the night while trying to get back into the game.A couple penalties kind of backed them off a bit, said Vlasic. It gave us a little bit more momentum on the bench, and we were able to squeak out with a victory.The Sharks move into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time this season with 25 points (12-5-1). They also have the highest winning percentage in the league at .694.Colorado opened the scoring the 12th time in 18 games the Sharks have allowed the first goal when Matt Duchesne tallied his ninth of the season. Colorados leading scorer turned around Douglas Murray in the offensive zone, before a cross-ice pass to Ryan Wilson. Wilson sent it back to Duchesne, who fired in a wrist shot past a diving Greiss at 7:25 of the first.The Sharks tied it shortly after on Marleaus first of the game. Just two seconds after a penalty expired to Colorados Gabriel Landeskog, Marleau charged toward the net and managed to slip in a pass from the point by Vlasic at 12:16.Vlasic was happy to see Marleau complete his fourth career hat trick with the empty-netter at the end.Hes been playing great. He gets a lot of points every year, but its the little things he does getting pucks out, winning battles along the wall, that dont show up on the scoresheet but the guys appreciate very much.He gets rewarded tonight which is nice to see. Hopefully there will be more to come. Im sure its a confidence booster for him, so Im sure hell keep shooting it even more now.The Sharks return home Wednesday night to host the Chicago Blackhawks.Odds and ends: The Sharks 18 shots was a season low. San Jose took just one penalty, an interference minor to Dan Boyle at 8:38 of the second period. Jean-Sebastien Giguere took the loss in net for Colorado, with 14 saves on 17 shots. San Jose won the faceoff battle, 33-21. Colin White and Justin Braun returned to the lineup for Jason Demers and Jim Vandermeer, who played in Dallas. Torrey Mitchell skated on a line with Marleau and Clowe, while Martin Havlat was with Michael Handzus and Jamie McGinn.

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

Three takeaways: Carpenter making the most of his chance with Sharks

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks jumped out to a first period lead and were never in any real danger after that in a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday. Three takeaways from the victory over their biggest rival…

1 – Having the Kings’ number

The circumstances were all in the Kings’ favor – they were more rested, one of the best NHL teams at home this season, and entered on a five-game winning streak – but the Sharks managed to beat them fairly handily, even if the game was probably a little closer than the 4-1 final would indicate.

Including the 2016 playoffs, the Sharks have won their last six games at Staples Center. What’s the secret to that success?

“I don’t know if there’s a secret,” Pete DeBoer said. “The one thing about any time we play L.A. is there is no speeches needed. We know it’s going to be a hard game, we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. Our guys have been responding to that challenge. [Martin Jones] has been excellent, too. That’s a big part of it.”

2 – Jones no worse for wear

The Sharks goalie was starting on back-to-back days for the first time this season, and continued his recent run of success. He’ll likely play on Friday against the Canadiens before he and his Sharks teammates get a rare weekend off with no games or practices scheduled.

“I felt fine,” Jones said after the game. “I thought the guys did a really good job keeping it simple tonight. We got pucks deep, and we worked them low.”

Jones and the Sharks’ defenders have been outstanding during their 5-1-0 stretch, allowing just eight goals in their last six games. The Sharks goalie got a major assist in the second period from Brent Burns, who dove into the goal crease to keep Trevor Lewis from cutting the lead to 3-2 when Lewis had Jones beat.

“It was a great play by Lewis and a great play by Burnzie to keep it out there,” Jones said.

DeBoer said: “Burnzie has been playing great. I thought he was very good tonight. … I thought [Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun] shutting down [Jeff] Carter, and Burnzie and [Paul Martin] – I thought our whole defense corps really played well.”

3 – Carpenter showing he belongs

It was another strong outing from 25-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who scored his first NHL goal, had two shots, three hits, and was 5-for-12 in the faceoff circle in 11:38 of ice time.

DeBoer said the Sharks’ fourth line, primarily with Carpenter centering Micheal Haley and either Melker Karlsson or Kevin Labanc, “might have been our best line tonight. They were excellent.”

Carpenter is making the most if his chance to show he’s a full time NHL player.

“Try to take just a simple approach, one day at a time,” he said. “The Sharks are so deep, they’ve got so many established, proven forwards, that any chance you’re in the lineup you’ve got to take advantage of it. Trying to do that. Any time Pete puts me in, I’m going to go all out.”

Rewind: Sharks 'finding their stride' in latest win over L.A.

Rewind: Sharks 'finding their stride' in latest win over L.A.

LOS ANGELES – Not only was Los Angeles the much more rested team headed into Wednesday’s game with the Sharks, having not played in four days while San Jose was on a back-to-back, the Kings were also the hottest team in hockey. They brought a five-game winning streak into the meeting with their biggest rival, the longest active streak in the league.

There were no illusions on the San Jose side that this was going to be a tough one. 

The Sharks, though, have been playing pretty well lately, too. After a 4-1 win, now they can perhaps lay claim to being the hottest in the league, having won five of their last six while opening up a three-point lead on the rest of the Pacific Division.

Three points from Logan Couture, two goals from rookie forwards and another strong outing by goalie Martin Jones against his old mates were the keys to Wednesday’s victory.

“I feel our game right now, we’re finding our stride,” said Couture, who posted two goals and one assist. “Inconsistent at the start, but I think we’re playing some of our better hockey right now.”

The Kings had the early territorial edge, even after Kevin Labanc’s second career goal on a two-on-one with Couture staked San Jose a lead at 3:32. The Sharks remained committed in their defensive end, though, keeping the Kings to the outside, and waited to pounce again.

They did, late in the first. A nice shift by the second line of Joel Ward, Joonas Donskoi and Couture was capped off by Couture’s marker at 19:05, while Mikkel Boedker nicely sprung Ryan Carpenter on a two-on-one for the rookie’s first NHL goal just 30 seconds later.

Getting goals from Labanc and Carpenter, who was filling in for an injured Chris Tierney at the time of his goal, was especially welcomed (Tierney returned to start the second).

“We needed some contributions tonight,” DeBoer said. “It’s a tough situation, back-to-back, playing last night at home, L.A. is rested. You look at their home record (9-2-0 before Wednesday). We knew this was going to be a really tough game, and we challenged the group to have contributions from everybody.”

Playing in just his fourth career game, Carpenter was overjoyed to see his shot beat Peter Budaj. He has helped to generate a goal in two of the last three games, screening Jonathan Bernier on Dylan DeMelo’s score on Saturday against Anaheim.

“You never know if you’re going to score one or not, so it’s nice to get one,” Carpenter said. “Now you don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Couture praised both rookies.

“[Labanc] has done a great job. [On his goal] I knew if he got it to him he was going to bury it, he’s got a great shot. [Carpenter] has played well. In the games that he’s played he hasn’t been rewarded on the scoresheet, so it was nice to see him [score a goal] tonight.”

Brent Burns said: “They’ve been playing great. Big, strong kids. It’s huge when they chip in. It’s a big part [of the game]. We need that.”

Although they scored three in the first period, the third period was perhaps the Sharks’ most impressive. Despite playing against Arizona the night before, they had the energy to keep the Kings from recording a single shot on goal for the first 12-plus minutes while holding a 3-1 edge. 

Couture’s empty netter from the other side of the rink was the final nail in the Kings’ coffin after Jones made some timely saves in the later minutes.

DeBoer said: “I loved our third period with the lead. I thought we really locked things down, and that’s how we want to play.”

The Sharks are no strangers to blowing leads to the Kings, of course, and Couture recalled Game 5 of last year’s first round playoff series when the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see the Kings storm back to tie it. Perhaps that prior experience brought a little extra drive and focus for those final 20 minutes.

“We’ve played these guys enough to know that they can change things pretty quickly,” Couture said.

On Wednesday, though, the Kings were never able to recover from the early deficit. The Sharks have allowed just eight goals in their last six games, and shut down a Los Angeles team that had averaged 3.40 goals-per game during their five-game winning streak.

“They still got a few looks and Jonesy was there, but I think every time we got on the ice against [Anze] Kopitar or [Jeff] Carter, it was a real commitment by all five guys on the ice to defend, and defend hard,” DeBoer said. “I thought we did a good job.”