SAN JOSE Reunited and it feels so good.
Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe both scored, with Clowes game-tying goal coming late in regulation, and the Sharks won in a shootout over the Montreal Canadiens at HP Pavilion on Thursday night, 4-3.
Couture and Clowe, who had success together for most of last year and the beginning of this season, began the night on the same line for the first time since Nov. 5 in Nashville. Clowes first marker since Nov. 3 tied the game with 1:26 left in the third period.
Trailing 3-2 and with Antti Niemi racing towards the bench for an extra attacker, Marty Havlat fired a wrist shot on Carey Price from the wing. Couture charged the net, and the rebound bounced out to the slot where Clowe was able to lift it over Prices shoulder for his fifth of the season.
Havlat, Michal Handzus and Joe Pavelski beat Price in the six-round shootout, which finally ended when Niemi made a low stick save on Montreals P.K. Subban. The Sharks improved to 3-0 in shootouts in ending their modest two-game losing streak.
Along with Havlat, the Sharks second line combined for five points and was easily the teams best of the night.
Whatever the outcome was tonight, I was happy with the effort of our line to create some offense and get back on track, said Clowe.
Sometimes you need to take a break and get back together. You kind of regroup and get a feel for each other again. Give a lot of credit to Marty, he played well on the wing tonight, too.
So well, in fact, that McLellan labeled it as Havlats best game as a Shark. I dont even think its close, said the head coach.
The Sharks never led in regulation, battling back from three separate one-goal deficits to force overtime.
Montreal took the 3-2 lead with 11:14 left in the third period. David Desharnais battled Joe Thornton behind the Sharks net, coming away with the puck. He managed to squeeze a pass through the crease to Cole, who got position in front of Marc-Edouard Vlasic to direct it past Niemi.
Usually I play that better, said Vlasic, who has undoubtedly been the teams best defenseman this season.
All of Montreals goals, in fact, came from the same line, as Desharnais, Erik Cole and Mike Cammalleri combined for eight points. They victimized the Sharks top line of Thornton, Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who were a combined -8.
We thought their size was something that we could take advantage of tonight, but it didnt work out for us for whatever reason, said McLellan of his top line. I know that threesome will be better next time out.
The Sharks responded quickly to goals from Montreal in the first and second periods, and the game was tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes.
The Canadiens opened it at 13:21 of the first period. Niemi stopped Coles attempt from the side of the net, but was slow to recover as the puck ended up at the point on the stick of Subban. Subban ripped a low slap shot that Cammalleri redirected into the net.
Just 41 seconds later, though, Jamie McGinn tied it. Handzus, returning after missing Mondays game with a high fever, skated around the net and backhanded one towards the net. The puck glanced off of Prices pad right to a charging McGinn, who slammed it in.
Montreal re-took the lead at 4:41 of the second. Pavelski turned the puck over in the Sharks offensive zone to Cole, who quickly got it ahead the speedy Desharnais. The Sharks were unable to get back in time and watched Desharnais fire a wrister from the circle past Niemi's stick side.
Once again, though, the Sharks countered. This time it was Couture, who got open in the circle and took a nice backhanded feed from Clowe along the boards. Couture showed his quick wrists and immediately fired it past Price for just his second goal in the last nine games at 6:18.
It was one of many scoring chances that line generated throughout the night.
There are nights where you feel good and it feels like the puck is following you around, said Couture. Youre getting in the forecheck a little quicker, and causing turnovers from the other teams D. Tonight was one of those nights.
Despite trailing for much of the game, the Sharks were happier with their overall effort. The Canadiens were an opportunistic bunch, taking advantage of the few mistakes the Sharks made, in scoring their three goals.
It wasn't any real huge mistakes. Theyre good at countering, said Clowe. We talked about that before the game. I liked how we at least stuck with it.
The coach did, too.
We tried to lose it in the third there when we gave up the goal, but Im happy that they stuck with it. There was a group of them that was really determined, said McLellan, clearly referring to that second line.
It was perhaps their best game in a long time. It was nice to see. They did a lot of scoring for us tonight and were real happy about that, he said.
Odds and ends: Niemi made 29 saves for his 10th win of the season. Price stopped 38. The Sharks host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. There was a total of just four penalty minutes in the game, and each team had just 1:29 of power play time. Neither scored. The Sharks won 39 of 61 faceoffs. The Canadiens, the league leaders in blocked shots, blocked 23 to San Joses 18. The Canadiens were without leading goal-scorer Max Pacioretty, who was serving the second of a three-game suspension.