Sharks responding well to adversity

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Sharks responding well to adversity

SAN JOSE The Sharks have picked up a pair of wins in their last two games at what is the most important time of the season, but that doesnt mean theyve been perfect.

Of course, a flawless 60-minute game is hard to come by at any point in the year, and there are bound to be moments where things dont go the right way. Its how a team responds to that adversity that can define whether or not it wins or loses.

In the victories over Boston on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday, the Sharks have not let mistakes or letdowns that end up in the back of their net get them down. On Thursday it was a late goal by Zdeno Chara that the Sharks brushed aside in winning, 2-1. Saturday's game against Phoenix featured a goal with half a second left in the first period to tie it, and then another early in the second to give the Coyotes the lead. Daniel Winnik re-tied it shortly after.

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Its a positive sign for the remaining seven games, and something that was missing during the teams 4-11-3 run from Feb. 4 to March 10.

Were finding ways to win games when a couple weeks ago we were finding ways to lose games. Thats changed, Logan Couture said on Sunday. You go through ups and downs in a period or entire games, but weve dealt with it better as of late.

Torrey Mitchell said: Theres been good responses at those times where weve been down, so thats been a plus lately.

Is that a reflection that the Sharks, 5-2-1 in their last eight games, are a more confident club from as recently as two weeks ago?

Possibly, Couture said. A lot of guys in this room have been through a lot in the playoffs and down the stretch. They know how to handle that, so I think that has something to do with it, as well.

When youre playing well and youre winning, it just feels like theres no doubt, Mitchell said. When we get down a goal or they score, we feel a little more confident like were going to come back as opposed to being in a slump and thinking here we go again.

As Couture alluded to, one thing the Sharks have in spades is veteran experience. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and others have seen just about everything there is to see in their years as professionals.

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That was on display after the first period against the Coyotes, after several mental lapses led to a game-tying goal that could easily have taken the wind from the Sharks sails. The early goal in the second giving the Coyotes a 3-2 lead only compounded the potential problem.

But, San Jose answered back with Winnik's goal and went on to collect a shootout victory.

When we walked off after the first period, youre always concerned about where the team is going to go when we start again, Todd McLellan said. I liked what our leadership group was saying. You could hear them on the way in. It was almost like the coaches didnt need to go in a lot and talk to them, they were taking care of it and saying the right things.

"Now, we go out and get scored on right away and then youre really worried, but we still found a way to respond, and that was a good thing.

Its a trait that will be necessary in the final two weeks of the season, starting with Monday night against Colorado.

McLellan said: It probably is about feeling better about yourself, and knowing that you can recover from those mistakes. Really, right now, we have no choice but to recover. We cant wallow in pity and feel sorry for ourselves when something doesnt go our way. Weve got to respond immediately and get back at it.

Having a short memory isnt just for losses or bad goals, either, Mitchell pointed out.

When it goes wrong you want to forget about it, but even when you win a game we need to turn it around and focus on Colorado now, he said. Every game is a playoff game; its do or die for us pretty much. You need to turn the page as soon as you wake up the next morning.

Odds and ends: The Sharks held an optional skate on Sunday at Sharks Ice. The players that did not skate were Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, Marty Havlat, Dominic Moore, Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski. The Coyotes host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night in the only other Western Conference game involving a bubble team. Phoenix is then off until Thursday, when it hosts the Sharks. ... Coyotes forward Alexandre Bolduc was fined 2,500, the maximum allowed under the CBA, for his slew-foot of Clowe in the second period on Saturday.

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Sharks' Marleau strengthens his case for Hall of Fame with career night

Whether Sharks all-time leading scorer Patrick Marleau is worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame is a subject that can be hotly debated in sports bars throughout North America.

Monday’s performance in Colorado gave some major ammo to the side that argues in his favor.

Marleau had one of the greatest single game performances of his 19-year career, scoring four goals – all in the third period – of the Sharks’ 5-2 win over the Avalanche. 

How rare is four goals in a single period? It’s happened just 12 times, the most recent of which was Mario Lemieux on Jan. 26, 1997 at Montreal, according to Elias. Just five months later, a teenage Marleau would be drafted by the Sharks with the second overall pick.

Marleau spoke with NBCSN and CSN analyst Bret Hedican after the game.

“Everything seemed to click there in the third,” he said. “Some really good plays from a lot of different players. Was able to finish them off.”

What seemed to spark Marleau was a line change by coach Pete DeBoer to start the final frame, after the Sharks had managed just four shots in the second period, and 13 through 40 minutes. Marleau was taken off of the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line, and put on the left side of the Logan Couture line, with Mikkel Boedker on the other wing.

Boedker’s hard work in getting the puck to the point resulted in Marleau redirecting a hard Marc-Edouard Vlasic pass to the front of the net to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.

He scored three more from there: a wraparound, a two-on-one with Pavelski, and a breakaway.

Switching lines is not unfamiliar to Marleau, who has played up and down the Sharks lineup this season after spending most of last season as the third line center.

“I play a bunch of different positions. Over the years you get a little experience and you know how to handle those situations,” Marleau said of his versatility. “It was a fun period.”

Vlasic said: “He was everywhere in the first two periods, and all of a sudden he exploded in the third. … He’s fast, he’s skilled. There’s a reason he can score four.”

Marleau’s second goal of the night was the game-winner, and even that was a bit historic. It was his 96th career game-winning goal, and he’s now tied for 10th all-time in that category with Mats Sundin (courtesy Darin Stephens). He is already one of just three players to have a game-winning goal against 29 other teams (Sundin, Brendan Shanahan), after getting one against Philadelphia on Dec. 30.

Four of Marleau’s five career hat tricks have come on the road, including his most recent one, also at Colorado on Nov. 20, 2011. He is just the third Sharks player to record four goals in a game, joining Owen Nolan and Tomas Hertl, and is the first to do it in a single period.

Marleau now sits just three goals from 500 in his career. Reaching that milestone seemed like a tossup to start the year, but now it’s virtually inevitable that he’ll become just the 45th player to reach that lofty mark before the end of the season.

He remains, of course, the Sharks’ all-time leader in games played (1459) and points (1059).

It all adds up to a few extra strides towards that hockey cathedral in downtown Toronto.

Instant Replay: Marleau's first four-goal game powers Sharks past Avs

Instant Replay: Marleau's first four-goal game powers Sharks past Avs

BOX SCORE

In five consecutive periods against Colorado, the Sharks’ “captains line” of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had done next to nothing.

But a third period line change sparked one of them. Big time.

After getting bumped to the second line, Marleau scored a career-high four goals, all in the third period, leading the Sharks to a 5-2 win at Pepsi Center on Colorado on Monday.

On the first, Marleau was left alone in front of the net and redirected a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot-pass from the point at 2:53 of the final frame. That gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead.

Marleau’s second of the night came just three minutes and four seconds later. He faked to the net, but quickly shifted behind the cage and tucked it inside the post on his backhand before goalie Spencer Martin could seal it off.

The 19-year-veteran completed the hat trick at 10:35, stepping out of the penalty box and finishing off a two-on-one with Pavelski to push the Sharks’ lead to 4-1.

A goal by Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov brought the Avalanche back to within 4-2, but Marleau’s breakaway goal at 16:23, going from his forehand to his backhand, capped the scoring.

Marleau’s most recent hat trick also came in Colorado on Nov. 20, 2011. It was the fifth of his career, four of which have come on the road, as he upped his career total to 497. 

Only two Sharks have ever recorded four goals in a game – Owen Nolan on Dec. 19, 1995, and Tomas Hertl on Oct. 8, 2013.

The Sharks won a season-high fifth in a row, while Colorado dropped its sixth straight.

Brent Burns’ team-leading 20th goal opened the scoring. After David Schlemko rimmed it around the wall behind the Colorado net, Burns gathered it in and quickly fired it towards the goal from a sharp angle. Martin wasn’t able to stop it with one minute to go in the first period.

Burns continues to lead all NHL defensemen in scoring, and has 13 points in his last nine games (5g, 8a).

Colorado got the equalizer in the second period, when Jarome Iginla buried a seam pass from Mikhail Grigorenko at 10:02 on an Avalanche power play.

There were just eight shots in the second period – four per team – and shots were just 13 apiece at the second intermission.

The Sharks beat Colorado at home on Saturday, 3-2, in the only other meeting between the teams this season.

Special teams:
The Sharks finished 0-for-4 on the power play, including a long five-on-three in the third period. They are just 9-for-76 on the road this season (11.8 percent).

Colorado went 1-for-4.

In goal:
Jones improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, with 26 saves.

Martin, who made his NHL debut on Saturday in San Jose, fell to 0-1-1 in his career with five goals allowed on 24 shots.

Lineup:
The Sharks lost Joonas Donskoi in the first period. He was hammered along the wall by Colorado’s Andreas Martinsen, and seemed to be favoring his right arm as he left the ice. Donskoi missed three games earlier this month with an upper body injury.

Timo Meier made his return to the lineup after missing a pair of games with an upper body injury. He started on the fourth line with Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson, while Ryan Carpenter – who had points in each of his last two games – was scratched.

Colorado was without center and second-leading scorer Matt Duchene with a reported flu. The Avalanche were forced to play with just 17 skaters.

Up next:
San Jose makes its first of two visits to Winnipeg on Tuesday night in yet another back-to-back situation. The Sharks, who skated past the Jets 5-2 on Jan. 16 at SAP Center, are 5-3 in the second game when playing on consecutive nights.

Edmonton visits the Sharks on Thursday in their final game before the All-Star break.