Sharks pour in six, take opener from Phoenix

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Sharks pour in six, take opener from Phoenix

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE In an offseason of change, one of the knocks on the San Jose Sharks was that their group of forwards was nowhere nearly as deep as in previous seasons.

If opening night is any indication, that wont be the case this year.

No fewer than 12 Sharks, nine of them forwards, registered at least a point in a 6-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion. Joe Pavelski and Andrew Desjardins - yes, Andrew Desjardins - lead the charge with two goals apiece.

Despite allowing three power play goals to Phoenix, the Sharks were happy with their effort in pocketing the first two points of the year.

I thought we had a very good first night, and did a lot of things well, said head coach Todd McLellan. We captured the energy in the building and played with it. I thought that was important. The power play was good, and I thought all four lines contributed.

Overall, great start, said captain Joe Thornton, who, surprisingly, was one of the forwards held off the scoresheet. I thought everybody played well, had their legs, and we fed off the energy in the building tonight.

It was a dominating performance for the majority of the game for San Jose, as the Sharks scored two in the first and four more in the second to defeat a team that isnt expected to be much of a threat after losing goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in the offseason.

The Sharks used their power play to do much of the damage, going 3-for-6. Both of Pavelskis goals came with the man advantage.

While Pavelskis performance wasnt exactly a surprise, Desjardins was, as the Sharks fourth-liner entered opening night with one goal in 17 career regular season games. His breakaway tally after a bad turnover by Phoenixs Adrian Aucoin put the Sharks ahead 4-0 in the second period, and later in the frame he muscled his way towards the net to bank one in off of goaltender Mike Smith to give the Sharks a 6-1 lead before the second intermission.

Pavelski, getting used to a new position on the wing with Thornton and Patrick Marleau, may have been the best player on the ice for the Sharks. He took a great pass from Marleau in opening the scoring at 4:01 of the first period, and made a skillful deflection of a wrister by Dan Boyle late in the second period.

The first goal in particular was one for the highlight reels thanks to Marleaus dish.

Great pass. I saw it right at the end and it pretty much just hit my stick, and it was just a reaction into the net, said Pavelski.

While Brent Burns was the biggest name added to the Sharks in the offseason, it was Michal Handzus who had the biggest impact in Game 1. Handzus drew a couple of early penalties, was strong on the puck, and banked in the Sharks second goal of the game when he caught goaltender Mike Smith out of position.

Burns tallied an assist on the Sharks first goal when he won a battle along the boards, but was on the ice during the penalty kill for two of the Coyotes three goals.

Its only the first game, but from a personal point I think Id get a lot better and more comfortable system-wise. There was a couple times where Im in the wrong spot, because Im not used to playing a different system," said Burns.

Its just a start, but its going to get better every game.

The one criticism coming out of this game will be, of course, the penalty kill. The Sharks struggled with it for most of last season, and players like Burns and Handzus are expected to help that unit improve. Phoenix finished 3-for-7 on the power play, one coming during a two-man advantage and two of them by Doan.

Fortunately for the Sharks, they have six days until their next game on Friday in Anaheim. Its plenty of time to work on some things that they need to correct, while the win will make the trip to the office a little more enjoyable than had they lost.

Its really good because we have a week off. If we lose this one, its tough to sleep all week and tough to practice all week," said Pavelski.

At the other end, goaltender Thomas Greiss finished with 26 saves. The guy who was the third string goalie just a few weeks ago made some key saves in winning his first NHL game since March 28, 2010 against Colorado.

The Coyotes didnt get their first shot on net until there was 12:40 left in the first, but it was a good one. Kyle Chipchura charged the net on a two-on-one shorthanded rush for Phoenix, but Greiss smothered his tip-in try to keep it a 1-0 lead at the time.

Tommy was good. Were rolling along and they get a two-on-one on the power play, he needs to make a great save and he did, said McLellan.

Greiss, starting is first-ever home opener, was asked if he was relieved to get this first game behind him.

Sure. Im happy its over. Im happy we won.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

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USATSI

Instant Replay: Bruins score in overtime, send Sharks to the break with a loss

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – The Boston Bruins skated past the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at SAP Center, 2-1 in overtime.

Brad Marchand’s breakaway goal after the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff gave Boston the win, as Torey Krug found the forward charging towards the San Jose net. Marchand slipped the puck through Martin Jones’ five hole at 2:36.

San Jose has dropped its last four games decided in the three-on-three.

The Sharks lost for the sixth time in their last eight games (2-1-5), headed into the bye week. They will not play or practice from Monday through Friday, and resume their season on Saturday in Vancouver.

Boston extended its winning streak to four games since firing Claude Julien and naming Bruce Cassidy the interim head coach. The streak began with a 6-3 win over the Sharks at TD Garden on Feb. 9.

The Bruins were just the fourth team of 20 to win the first game after their bye week (4-12-4).

Boston scored the only goal in the first period, while the Sharks answered with a second period tally.

Ryan Spooner’s marker at 11:05 of the opening frame put Boston ahead. An Adam McQuaid point shot found Jimmy Hayes in the slot, and after Hayes fired wide of the net, Spooner tucked in the loose puck.

San Jose turned up the pressure late in the second, finally resulting in a goal by Patrick Marleau. During a four-on-four situation, Brent Burns’ wrist shot deflected right to Marleau’s tape, and he easily flipped in his 502nd career goal at 17:37.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer shortened his bench for the third period, leaving Mikkel Boedker and Nikolay Goldobin planted on the pine. Melker Karlsson took Boedker’s place on the second line, while Chris Tierney skated on the third line with Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward.

The Sharks are 6-3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.

Special teams

Each team had just one power play in the game, failing to convert.

The Sharks are 3-for-24 on the power play over their last eight games (12.5 percent), but a perfect 8-for-8 on the PK in their last five.

In goal

Jones was facing the Bruins just 10 days after he was pulled to start the second period in Boston when he allowed three goals on 12 shots. He allowed two goals on 27 shots.

Tuukka Rask made 29 saves for the win.

Lineup

The Sharks’ lineup was unchanged from Saturday’s win in Arizona, other than the goaltender. Goldobin played in his second game of the season.

Joe Thornton remains two assists away from 1000 in his career. His five-game point streak came to an end.

Burns had 20 shot attempts, including seven on net.

Up next

Saturday’s game in Vancouver begins a stretch where the Sharks will play their final 22 games over a 43-day span. On Feb. 2, they won the first of five meetings with the Canucks, 4-1 at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver, which hosted Philadelphia on Sunday, also has its bye week from Feb. 20-24.