NEWARK, NJ There were some familiar feelings on the Sharks bench for much of their game against New Jersey on Friday night at the Prudential Center.
Frustration. Aggravation. Irritation. After all, here they were, outplaying another opponent yet not seeing the results on the scoreboard.
Of all those feelings, though, it was determination that took over. It helped them to a much-needed 4-3 shootout victory over the Devils, as Joe Pavelski tied it with 32.4 seconds left and Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his 1000th career NHL game to help put an end to the teams three-game losing streak.
Credit the veteran leadership on this one, which didnt allow the Sharks to hang their heads despite being down 2-0 early, and 3-2 late.
At that stage of the game if your leadership doesnt step up or you write it off as another tough night, thats not a good sign, said Ryane Clowe. I liked how we stuck with it. Pavelski was one of the guys who actually said that on the bench, and he went out and scored that tying goal.
David Clarkson gave the Devils a 3-2 lead at 13:18 of the third period, when he and Mattias Tedenby broke out on a two-on-two rush. Sharks defenseman Colin White fell down, however, leaving Clarkson alone in front of the net. Tedenby centered to Clarkson, who waited for Niemi to go down before sliding it through the goaltenders legs.
This, after San Jose had scored a pair of quick goals to tie it up before the second intermission.
Enter Pavelski. With goaltender Antti Niemi pulled, Pavelski found a patch of open ice and had the puck squirt out to his stick with the clock winding down.
Thornton had it and definitely saw there was a scrum in front of the net. I was just trying to stay out, and it popped out, said Pavelski, who quickly fired it past the glove side of Johan Hedberg, through heavy traffic.
In the shootout, Michal Handzus and Ilya Kovalchuk converted their opportunities. When Niemi made a save on Patrik Elias, it came down to Clowe.
The burly left winger went to his backhand and lifted it past Hedberg to seal San Joses second win of the year.
Ive taken a few shootouts now over the years, and thats kind of my go-to move, he said. Its a little easier when you face the Eastern Conference goalies because they dont see you as much. Hedberg is kind of a smaller goalie and I have a long stick and long reach, so I tried to use that when I go to the backhand.
After three straight games in which the Sharks felt they deserved better than an 0-3 record, San Jose fell behind when Elias scored a power play goal in the first period and Zach Parise converted a penalty shot early in the second.
The Sharks fought back, though, with a pair of even strength goals from their top two lines on back-to-back shifts.
First it was Thornton. The Sharks captain used Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder as a screen and fired a wrist shot through Hedberg at 15:18 for his first of the season.
The second line followed that up just 63 seconds later. After Logan Couture had a great chance in front of the net, Martin Havlat threw the puck back towards the crease and it bounced in off of the left skate of Clowe. A short video review confirmed the goal.
Havlat, making his Sharks debut, picked up his first point with the primary assist.
San Jose, which entered the game leading the league in shots per game, outshot the Devils 20-5 in the second period and 40-19 for the game.
That mattered little when Clarkson gave the Devils the lead back, and coach Todd McLellan sensed some growing displeasure on the bench.
I think even as coaches we could feel it, he said. But, as the night went on and we got those two quick goals, we started to believe again that it could be done. We felt the frustration come back after their third goal, but we stuck with it. Thats a good sign for our team.
McLellan said throughout the week that even though the Sharks were putting up plenty of shots on goal, they werent doing the dirty work in the crease to generate second chance opportunities. That wasnt the case on Friday, though, as Clowes goal and the game-tying score were the result of hard work near the blue paint.
If the first shot gets there, you have a chance at the second and third. We stress that all the time shooting from bad angles, said McLellan.
Clowe said: Sometimes when youre working you deserve those breaks, and we had a couple breaks that we worked for tonight.
The Sharks will travel to Boston to continue their road trip against the Bruins on Saturday night. The flight will undoubtedly be a little lighter after the hard earned victory.
If we dont score with 30 seconds left I can tell you we have a pretty frustrated group moving on, said McLellan. Maybe this will be the monkey off our back.
NEWS: Sharks' Mitchell leaves game with upper body injury
Odds and ends: San Jose suffered a blow early, when Torrey Mitchell left the ice in the first minute after taking a high elbow from Nick Palmieri, who was issued a minor penalty for checking to the head. Colin White played his first game back in New Jersey, where he spent the first 10 seasons of his NHL career before the Devils bought him out over the summer. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray was on the business end of a right hand from Eric Boulton when the two squared off in a heavyweight fight in the first period. Benn Ferreiro made his season debut, after being recalled from Worcester on Thursday. Devils forward Jacob Josefson suffered a broken clavicle late in the first period. The Sharks were 0-for-5 on the power play.