Sharks stay perfect on road trip with 3-1 win

Sharks stay perfect on road trip with 3-1 win
October 26, 2011, 2:34 am
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Sharks came out of the gate with three losses in their first four games despite out-chancing their opponents on a nightly basis, the players and their coach repeated the same mantra: as long as the scoring opportunities were there from key players, the goals would come.Thats exactly the case now, as Joe Pavelski,Logan Couture,Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat all registered points in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Sharks (4-3) moved above the .500 mark for the first time since opening night, and improved to a perfect 3-0 on their road trip.Pavelski scored twice, including the game-winner at 14:09 of the third period. It came just 57 seconds after the Predators tied the score at 1-1 with a power play goal.

Just as they did against New Jersey on Friday when they fell behind late, and Saturday in Boston when they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period, the Sharks kept their heads up and pulled out a victory.Were just confident, said Joe Thornton, who assisted on both of Pavelskis goals and now has 700 career helpers. It doesnt matter if its a tie game or late in the game, we still have confidence we can pull games out. Thats a good sign, I guess. We rarely panic, and were showing that.Nobody panicked, agreed Todd McLellan, describing his feeling from the bench after Nashville tied the score. We stuck with the plan, and weve played in some tough buildings on this trip so far against some very good teams and found ways to win.Again, it was Pavelski who came through in the clutch. The 27-year-old winger, whose last minute score on Friday forced overtime against the Devils, described the goal that ended up being the difference. Stationed behind the net with the puck, he spied goaltender Pekka Rinne leaning the wrong way before tucking it inside the post.I kind of saw that through the net, he said. Hes big, and just needs a flick of his toe and hes over there. He was coming, and I was glad to see it went through.Pavelski added an empty net goal with 1:12 left to cap the scoring, and now has six total on the season, leading the team. In fact, no other player on the Sharks has more than two.Pavelski, who was shifted to the top line with Thornton and Marleau at the start of training camp, modestly downplayed his early success.Its a good number, but it doesnt mean anything right now. It meant we got the win tonight, but when you suit up the next game your numbers really dont matter, he said. Its about production in the moment, and not getting ahead of yourself and just keep getting those chances. Hopefully, you just keep building.McLellan gave Pavelski, and the top line in general, a little more credit.Thats what he gets paid to do, is play a very good two-way game, McLellan said. I thought that line played a very good game tonight. Big down low, strong cycle, and on the power play, even though we werent fortunate to score one, they moved the puck around pretty good. Theyre starting to gel, and thats a good sign.The Sharks took the lead at 14:22 of the opening period with their first shorthanded goal of the season. Havlat released a quick shot from the slot and Couture got behind the Nashville defense to flick home the rebound.The assist was Havlats third in three games with the Sharks.Basically out of nothing, Havlat created a play, McLellan said. He is a gifted player and thats why weve got him here. I think hes only going to get better as the year goes on.Its actually a play, two-on-two that we work on in practice all the time, said Couture, who has found instant chemistry with his new linemate in scoring his second goal in as many games. Marty made a great play cutting to the middle and I was able to get behind their d-men, and Rinne usually doesnt leave those rebounds like that.The score remained 1-0 until the offensively impaired Preds took advantage of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty toRyane Clowe.After Jordan Tootoo sent Couture hard to the ice with what looked to be a clean hit, Clowe dropped his gloves and grabbed the Nashville instigator. Tootoo wisely refrained from fighting, putting his team on the man advantage. On the ensuing power play, Shea Webers hard wrist shot was stopped by Antti Niemi, but Craig Smith found the loose puck in the crease and slid it home.Brent Burns broke his stick seconds earlier, making it even more difficult for the Sharks to clear the puck after they had been strong on the penalty kill up to that point.Clowe didnt hide his displeasure with the call.Its a brutal call. The guy runs across the ice, hits Coutch there, and I just ... whats the call? I just dropped the gloves. I didnt do anything. I didnt hit him or punch him. I dont even think I shoved him. I picked up my gloves again and got two minutes. Its hockey.Clowe is being very noble and sticking up for a teammate that he has a ton of respect for, McLellan said. Were pleased that hes willing to do that. I thought the timing was a little bit poor. Sometimes you have to take a lump to win a game.Clowe was happy to see his teammates respond with Pavelskis goal soon afterwards.That was great, he said. We deserved to win, anyway. We were the better team and played real solid tonight. It was tough that they tied it but it was great for those guys to kind of bail me out.Odds and ends: The Sharks used their same lineup as Saturday in Boston. Torrey Mitchell remained out but could return on Friday in Detroit. Thornton and Patrick Marleau assisted on both of Pavelskis goals. The Sharks outshot the Predators, 36-20. San Jose was 0-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon made their season debuts for the Predators. Bouillon drew a minor penalty to Brad Winchester in the second period for an illegal check to the head, and started a shoving match with Winchester immediately after the play.