SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks expected to have an advantage Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were playing back-to-back road games and came to SAP Center after an emotional 3-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks, coach Randy Carlyle's former team.
The well-rested Sharks took full advantage of the scheduling break. San Jose crushed the Maple Leafs 6-2, outshooting them 48-21 and finishing their homestand 3-0-1.
"We were all over them, all game," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. "We didn't give them much. They played last night, a tough game, so we wanted to jump all over them. We played 60 minutes, and for the most part we were all over them."
The Sharks closed within two points of the first-place Ducks in the Pacific Division.
"There's always the talk of Anaheim, you're chasing them down and that type of stuff," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "There's a team in L.A. that's won eight games straight, and they're going on a five-game homestand. [The St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche] -- they're all playing well. Just to keep up with the rest of the League you have to win. We did a pretty admirable job here at home. We got to go back on the road back East for the last time and try to get things done there."
Sharks forward Joe Pavelski scored two goals, giving him a team-high 34 for the season. Vlasic, Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and Marty Havlat each had one goal for San Jose (42-17-7), which has 91 points after its third straight victory. Tommy Wingels had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a goal, an assist and a fight in a game that turned chippy after the Sharks took control.
"We've been playing good at home," Pavelski said. "This one we definitely got on them early and had the puck a lot tonight. It was a solid win. It was a moment where they play yesterday and we come out and we want to get on top of them a little bit and catch them a little tired. We were able to get the lead early."
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 19 saves for his 32nd victory of the season. Backup goaltender James Reimer made 42 saves in his second start in the past 13 games for Toronto (35-24-8). Defenseman Jake Gardiner scored both goals for the Maple Leafs, who were overwhelmed for most of the night. In addition to the huge margin in shots on goal, San Jose had a 90-35 edge in shot attempts and a 48-28 advantage in the faceoff circle.
"I thought we did a lot of things that gave them a lot of opportunities, like turning the puck over," Carlyle said. "We didn't skate. We were standing still. Their backside pressure caused us a lot of problems. Once the game started to tilt their way we couldn't get it back. It seemed like there was one puck and they had it. We didn't get a chance to play with it."
The Sharks grabbed a 1-0 lead 3:58 into the game on Vlasic's fifth goal. Rookie forward Matt Nieto took the puck away from Gardiner behind the net and sent a pass in the high slot to Vlasic, who threaded the puck between Reimer's pads.
Toronto pulled even 25 seconds later when Gardiner made amends for his mistake, scoring after Havlat's turnover over along the boards in the neutral zone. Gardiner fed Mason Raymond on a 2-on-1 rush, took a return feed and beat Niemi from just to the left of the crease.
The Sharks appeared to take a 2-1 lead with 10:23 left in the period when Wingels jammed the puck under Reimer's right pad and over the goal line. But referee Dave Jackson waved off the goal, asserting he had deemed the play stopped and was in the process of blowing the whistle when Wingels poked the puck past Reimer. The play is not reviewable under NHL rules, and the call stood.
Burns put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 11:04, but not until after a video review from the Situation Room in Toronto. Burns got the puck in the slot from Joe Thornton and ripped a shot past Reimer. But Jackson immediately waved off the goal. After a review, the call was changed, and Burns was credited with his 18th goal, fourth in his past four games.
"I think Dave Jackson thought it didn't go in because it just went in so quick and came out so fast," Thornton said. "I don't know if he thought it hit the crossbar."
The Sharks outshot Toronto 14-6 in the first period and turned up the pressure even higher in the second. San Jose outshot the Maple Leafs 15-1 in the opening 11:47 of the second and increased its lead to 4-1 on goals by Wingels and Pavelski.
"We had a lot of zone time," Pavelski said. "We got on top of them a couple times. They had a few long shifts just by us controlling the puck down low. Guys had some good changes. All the things that you need to do to kind of create the momentum, we did."
Wingels redirected Justin Braun's blast from near the blue line, sending the puck off Reimer's right shoulder and into the back of the net at 6:54. Wingels ignited the play when he delivered a big hit on Toronto center Peter Holland along the boards and won a battle for the puck. Then Wingels quickly skated to the low crease and got his stick on Braun's long shot.
According to Wingels, Toronto's David Clarkson wanted to fight after his big hit.
"I don't think after a good hit there needs to be a fight at all times so I said no thanks and got back up in the play," Wingels said. "The best way to respond like that is to score."
Pavelski made it 4-1 at 8:13, recording his 400th career point. He took a pass from Thornton in the circle and ripped a shot off Reimer's glove and inside the right post.
The Sharks outshot Toronto 17-6 in the period, increasing their edge to 31-12.
"From the beginning we weren't ready to play," Gardiner said. "We gave up two pretty quick ones and no one really played well."
Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk left the ice 1:53 into the third after he was shaken up when teammate Dion Phaneuf accidentally collided with him at center ice, missing his intended target, San Jose forward Patrick Marleau. Van Riemsdyk was slow to get up but skated off the ice under his own power and went to the dressing room, but he returned to the game late in the period and earned an assist on Gardiner's second goal.
"You never want to hit one of your teammates and I think I got a little of both of them," Phaneuf said. "I was pretty worried when he went off the ice but then it was nice to see him come back."
Pavelski scored again at 4:26 of the third as the Sharks increased their lead to 5-1. Pavelski took cross-ice pass from Jason Demers and put a wrist shot past Reimer.
Gardiner scored a shorthanded goal, his eighth, at 14:56 of the third period, cutting San Jose's lead to 5-2. Havlat scored on a rebound with 3:27 left to play to complete the scoring. Wingels got an assist on Havlat's goal, then fought Joffrey Lupul 23 seconds later, completing what he believes is his first Gordie Howe Hat Trick at any level.
"I don't like to fight much, so it probably is," Wingels said.
The Maple Leafs played without defenseman Cody Franson, who, according to Carlyle, "had stomach ailments."
"He's going to stay over [in San Jose] and rejoin us tomorrow," said Carlyle, before the Maple Leafs flew to Los Angeles, where they'll play the Kings on Thursday night.
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