SAN JOSE Its an easy thing to overlook when your team explodes for the five fastest goals to start a game in franchise history.
But when Torrey Mitchell went to the penalty box just 36 seconds after the opening faceoff, the Sharks biggest demon the penalty kill was staring them squarely in the face. San Jose entered the game second-to-last in the NHL in the P.K.
The Sharks killed it off, though, and the shortly thereafter exploded for five goals in just 11 minutes and 21 seconds in cruising to a 7-2 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night. It was their most lopsided win of the season.
By the time it was over, the Sharks scored multiple power play goals for the first time in 14 games and killed off all five Lightning advantages.
Our special teams, overall, has to get better. Its been getting better lately, and its a work in progress, but tonight hopefully we made a good step in the right direction, said Joe Thornton.
The initial penalty kill was one that was important for us to get under our belt, said Todd McLellan. They could have gotten on the board real quick, and then we could have been chasing a team that checks pretty well. Their system is very effective when they have the lead, and they can really shut teams down.
The Sharks won their third straight game, all at home, in improving to 3-0-2 in their last five.
Recent recall Benn Ferriero, who joined the team due to Marty Havlats partially torn hamstring, got the party started with a goal at 3:26 of the first period when he slammed in a pass from Thornton after an extended shift in the Lightning zone.
For Ferriero, it was his second goal of the season in five games, equaling the injured Havlats season output.
I couldnt ask for anything more on my first shift. I had a tap in there so it was pretty nice, he said.
McLellan said: We put him that situation so that he could succeed, and he did. I thought he did a very good job.
Joe Pavelski backhanded a rebound of a shot by Brent Burns at 4:51 on a Sharks power play to make it 2-0, while Andrew Desjardins first goal since opening night made it 3-0 when he banked it in off of goaltender Mathieu Garons left skate from behind the net.
Garon was pulled in favor of Dwayne Roloson after that goal at 6:21.
Roloson, though, allowed a pair of markers to Logan Couture before the first period was through. First, Couture took a pass from Patrick Marleau before skating in and going top shelf on Roloson at 13:13.
Just 1:34 later, with the Sharks on another power play, Couture found the rebound of a Ryane Clowe shot and fired it past Roloson for his 14th goal of the season.
Couture said: They didnt have much energy there in the first, and we took advantage of that. Thats something we havent done this year. It was nice to get out to that five-goal lead and play the way we wanted to for the next two periods.
You want to jump on teams early, and tonight we were able to chase a goalie early on, said Thornton. When its 5-0, the game is pretty much over, so its a good start.
Dominic Moore scored late in the first period to make it 5-1, but a pair of third period markers by Burns and Marleau, sandwiched around one from the Lightnings Martin St. Louis and the Sharks had a rare easy win.
The dominating effort in which they were in total control from start to finish was a welcome change from the five consecutive one-goal decisions.
I think the guys felt a little loose on the bench, which was nice, said McLellan. Usually, were in that one-goal game like it is all over the league, and I dont want to say we relaxed, but we enjoyed it a little more.
One guy who particularly enjoyed it was Burns. The defenseman shaved his head before the game on the advice from his father, who is in town, and scored just his second goal in the last 14 games when he blasted in a clean faceoff win by Michal Handzus to make it a 6-1 Sharks lead at 1:15 of the third period.
Papa Burns came in and said we have to change it up for the hockey gods. Ive still got to listen to him, I guess, said Burns.
Thornton, Clowe, Marleau, Couture, Burns and Handzus all had two-point nights.
The Sharks will try to keep their homestand perfect on Friday when they host the Los Angeles Kings. After two days off to enjoy the Christmas holiday this weekend, visits from the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks will conclude the run of home games before the Sharks hit the road for nine of 13.
Were playing a lot better. We have one more game before Christmas and its going to be a huge game, said Thornton. Were getting comfortable with our game, and we have one more to win before Christmas break.
Coupled with a Dallas loss to Philadelphia, the Sharks moved into a first place tie in the Pacific Division with the Stars and Coyotes with 39 points. San Jose has played two fewer games than the Stars, though, and has three games in hand on Phoenix.
Odds and ends: The previous team record for fastest five goals to start a game was on October 27, 1996 in Chicago, when the Sharks did it in 18:50. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced before the game that Marty Havlat will miss a ballpark of six-to-eight weeks with a partially torn left hamstring. Havlat had surgery earlier in the day. Lightning forward Martin St. Louis returned from a five-game absence from taking a puck to the face in practice. Benn Ferrieros last goal came on Oct. 22 in Boston. He started on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but spent most of the final two periods with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture, switching places with Patrick Marleau after the Lightning tinkered with their lines.