UNIONDALE, NY Listening to a subdued Logan Couture after the Sharks defeated the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, and you would have no idea that the Sharks had just closed the book on their fifth straight win.
It was just a tough night for us," said Couture. We werent coming through the neutral zone, they were much quicker than us, they are a fast team and they skated better than us.
That may all be true, but the Sharks, playing their second game in as many nights after the Islanders had off on Friday, found a way to keep their road trip perfect with a 3-2 overtime triumph. Brent Burns perfectly placed wrist shot on the power play at 1:07 of the extra session means that San Jose can go a perfect 6-0 on their journey with a victory over the struggling New York Rangers on Monday night.
Burns took a pass from Joe Pavelski and fired it high over the shoulder of Rick DiPietro for his third goal of the season. With San Jose on Day 11 of a 13-day trek, Burns admitted that fatigue was a factor against the Islanders.
I think we were a little tired maybe more mental than physical, but its a sign of a good team to survive and come out with two points, he said.
San Jose didnt have its skating legs up front, but solid team defense in front of Thomas Greiss was the biggest reason the Sharks were able to hang with and eventually overtake the young and feisty Islanders.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, in particular, made some huge plays in the third period with the game tied 2-2. He neutralized John Tavares when the Isles leading scorer threatened to go in on a breakaway, and later hurried back in his own zone to snuff an attempt by Michael Grabner.
His biggest play came on a three-on-two shorthanded rush by the Isles, though, when he broke up a cross-ice pass towards Grabner with his stick with less than three minutes left in regulation.
I knew they would do that, especially with him using his speed, said Vlasic. I just made sure to get the stick on the puck. I had a good jump, came back early, and I was able to get the puck off of him.
Vlasic's strong game was especially important as Dan Boyle was under the weather, Todd McLellan later informed the media.
Another tremendous game for him, on a night when one of our key guys played sick on the back end, said the head coach. He logged a lot of minutes and he and Burnsie were probably our best pair. He defended a guy like Grabner who can fly 100 miles an hour with a very good stick there at one point. Just a very reliable, trusty guy for us.
The rest of the team stood tall in front of Thomas Greiss, who was making his first start since October 15 vs. St. Louis. Greiss looked a little shaky through the first 10 minutes or so, but was able to settle down shortly thereafter. He finished with 35 saves, and the Sharks did a good job at keeping the Islanders to the outside and clearing the puck from the goal mouth after Griess made the initial stop.
I had to stop the first and the rest they took care of, so it made my life a little easier, said Greiss. I was a little rusty at the start and let a couple bad rebounds, but overall I was happy. You just try to stay sharp in practice and be ready to go.
Joe Pavelski scored just 17 seconds into the game with Steve Staios in the box on a cross-check. Paveslki found the rebound of a shot off of the post by Burns for the fastest power play goal to start a game in Sharks franchise history.
The Islanders responded with two straight in the second to take their first lead. Greiss stopped a point shot and then rebound attempt at the front of the net by Matt Moulson, but the puck ended up on the stick of Tavares and he easily fired in his seventh goal.
Later, with Pavelski in the box for delay of game, Grabner cut through the slot and whizzed by Burns before converting a centering pass from Kyle Okposo at 11:28 for the Isles second power play goal of the game.
Couture was the recipient of a fortunate bounce when he tied it up less than two minutes later. Burns threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off of defenseman Mark Streit right to the stick of Couture in the slot, and the Sharks forward wristed it past DiPietro.
I just let it go, quick. I dont even know where it went, said Couture.
The Sharks may have been a little lucky in overtime. Travis Hamonic was whistled for a delay of game penalty just 29 seconds in, and vehemently disputed the call, saying the puck tipped off of the glass.
I heard from some others that it went off the glass, said McLellan. Those calls even out throughout the course of the year.
Most of the Sharks will have the day off in New York on Sunday before trying to conclude the road trip with a perfect mark against the Rangers the following day.
Tomorrow is a rest day. Monday is a work day, said McLellan.
Odds and ends: Okposo threw a nasty elbow to Boyle's face in the third period, and was called for a minor. Dont be surprised if the league takes a look at that one. McLellan made some changes to his lineup before the game. Playing alongside Michal Handzus on the third line were Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Murray, while Jamie McGinn was demoted to the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Brad Winchester. On defense, Jason Demers played in his first game since last Friday in New Jersey, paired with Colin White. Benn Ferreiro, Jim Vandermeer and Justin Braun were the Sharks scratches. The Islanders honored 10 members of their 1992-93 team before the game. Dont remember that team? It was the year Pierre Turgeon scored the winning goal against Washington and was promptly steamrolled by Dale Hunter. The previous franchise mark for fastest power play goal was Oct. 24, 2008, when Joe Thornton scored 51 seconds after the opening faceoff.