Marleau scored two goals for the fourth straight game, leading the undefeated Sharks to a 4-0 victory. Marleau became just the second player in NHL history to open a season with four straight multi-goal games. He joined Cy Denneny of the 1917-18 Ottawa Senators in that elite club.
Marleau scored both his goals on power plays in the first period. In the second, Sharks captain Joe Thornton added a power-play goal and rookie Matt Irwin scored the first goal of his NHL career.
"I don’t know if he can keep scoring two goals every night, but he can keep his play up the way it’s been," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He’s been skating extremely well. A ton of confidence. He’s prepared to shoot the puck. He’s engaged physically. It’s a great reward for him. He came focused to play."
Goaltender Thomas Greiss, making his first start of the season in place of Antti Niemi, stopped 24 shots, earning his first career shutout in his 39th NHL game. He improved to 3-0-0 lifetime against Colorado.
The Avalanche (2-2-0) lost their ninth straight regular-season game at HP Pavilion, where they haven't won since Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in 2010. Colorado's last regular-season victory in San Jose was on Feb. 6, 2008.
The Sharks didn't log their first shot until 12:17 of the first period, but Marleau scored twice before the first intermission, giving them a 2-0 lead.
Both of Marleau's goals came after Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart delivered a huge hit on Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. As Landeskog left the ice, Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne confronted Stuart, igniting a long, nasty fight.
O'Byrne, the instigator, earned 19 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct. Landeskog, who appeared to take a shoulder to the head, limped toward the dressing room and missed the rest of the first period before returning for the second.
"I thought it was a hard hit. I haven't seen it but I think it was a clean hit or felt like a clean hit," Landeskog said. "It was hard, that much I could tell you. I was reaching for the puck and didn't brace myself enough, Stuart stepped up and that's the way hockey always is. It was a big one. I knew he was there, but I didn't think he was coming at me. Then he came and I saw him at the last second but not nearly early enough.
"I felt fine. I was a little weak at first but I was able to take care of it after getting some ice in here [dressing room]. I felt fine after that. Hats off to O'Byrne, that's what teamwork is all about. He knows I have his back if it should happen to him."
Stuart wasn't penalized for the hit, and he said he doesn't expect to receive any supplemental discipline from the League.
"I fully expected him to pick his head up but he didn’t," Stuart said. "At that point he’s pretty vulnerable. I tried to make a good, solid hit. I’m not trying to hurt anyone or anything. When a guy doesn’t see you coming it’s going to look pretty bad.
"You hit the captain, a young kid, you have to expect somebody’s coming. I have no problem with that. That happens and then that’s it. It’s over and done with the rest of the game which is fine with me. I have no problem with that."
Avalanche coach Joe Sakic had a different view of Stuart's hit.
"The hit, looked like it was a direct blow to the head," Sakic said. "It looked like he targeted the head. It looked like it was the first point of contact was on the head. We end up four minutes short where I thought we should be on the power play for a minute. We just didn't get the call. Our PK wasn't good enough. You have a situation where a teammate is defending another teammate, which is the game of hockey, and in those situations we need to step up and get the job done for our teammate. We just didn't get it done. That was the difference in the game."
Stuart's hit seemed to jumpstart the Sharks.
"That's one of the biggest hits I've seen," Irwin said. "It was great. It was loud. It got the fans going, and I think that's what we needed because we were a little slow out of the gate. A big hit like that can really turn the momentum."
Thornton said Stuart's hit might have been the "loudest" he's ever heard in the NHL.
"It kind of takes your breath away because you’re like, 'I hope this kid’s OK,' but wow that was hard. It was a great hit. You just hope he’s OK. It was nice to see him come back for the second period. It was just, 'Welcome back to San Jose Brad Stuart.' It was one of the best I’d ever seen."
Marleau gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 16:09 of the first, sending a rebound past Semyon Varlamov from close range. Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle earned the assists. He struck again just 78 seconds later; this time he took a cross-ice pass just right of the crease from Thornton and put the puck into a wide-open net for a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks made it 3-0 just 2:32 into the second period with another power-play goal, this one by Thornton. After Marleau nearly redirected a shot past Varlamov, Ryane Clowe got his stick on the puck before Thornton knocked it home from just to the right of the crease.
Irwin put the Sharks ahead 4-0 at 17:05, taking a pass from Martin Havlat and ripping a slap shot from above the left circle past Varlamov.
"I just came off the bench," Irwin said. "We had them in their zone for a little bit on the power play. Came off the bench, the puck came off the sidewall, and I just buried my head and tried to hit it as hard as I can."
Varlamov, who was coming off a 4-0 shutout of Columbus on Thursday, was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere after the second period.
Greiss didn't face many shots, but he was solid early in the game, before the Sharks' offense came alive. Greiss said he was "happy" to get the shutout but was happier for the victory. He gave credit to the job his teammates did in front of him.
"It was great," Greiss said. "I always had to make just the first save and they took care of the rest. Blocked a lot of shots, too. Made my life pretty easy today. Scored a couple goals, too, made me feel more comfortable. It was good."
Entering the game, the Sharks' power play ranked No. 3 in the NHL at 38.9 percent with seven goals in 18 attempts. Colorado's penalty kill ranked fourth in the league at 89.5 percent. The Avalanche had killed 17 of 19 penalties before facing the Sharks, who went 3-for-6 on the power play.
The Sharks went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, both of those coming early in the first period while the game was scoreless.
"We were a little bit on our heels," McLellan said. "We didn’t start very well. We were on our heels. The penalty kill did a tremendous job. Right after that [came] the hit and our opportunity to go on the power play. It clicked real well really fast and changed the momentum in my opinion."
Forward Scott Gomez made his Sharks debut just three days after signing a one-year, $700,000 contract with San Jose as an unrestricted free agent. Gomez, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils, became a free agent last week when the League altered its rules, allowing the Montreal Canadiens to buy out the final two years of his seven-year contract.
|Back to top|