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Burns' OT goal lifts Sharks past Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- The San Jose Sharks continued their road mastery Thursday with a 5-4 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

Defenseman Brent Burns scored 2:13 into OT, giving the Sharks a 2-0-0 record after the first two games of their five-game road trip. They are 12-5-1 away from SAP Center but an NHL-worst 4-9-0 at home.

The Maple Leafs lost starting goalie Garret Sparks to a lower-body injury at 11:32 of the first period. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier, who allowed three goals and is winless in 11 decisions this season (0-8-3).

Toronto coach Mike Babcock said Sparks will be out long-term.

After third-period goals by San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto tied the game, Burns won it when his shot from the top of the slot hit the leg of Toronto forward Peter Holland and went past Bernier. It was the 11th goal of the season for Burns.

The Sharks lead the NHL with 12 road wins but have the worst home record in the NHL at 4-9-0 and have lost their past three games at SAP Center.

"Maybe the wives talk too much to us [at home]," Burns said with a laugh when asked why the Sharks are so much better on the road. "Sorry about that. I'm going to get in trouble when I get home. I don't know. We're trying some things to change it up. Maybe our routines are different. Definitely more sleep [on the road] for the guys who have kids."

"If you know why maybe let us know. It is one of the things we have to change. It just seems like tough bounces go in [on the road].

Captain Joe Pavelski said the Sharks tend to play a little more cautiously away from home.

"We don't really beat ourselves on the road," Pavelski said. "It has been a tough stretch. We love playing at home, but we definitely expect to be better. We have to find a solution."

Toronto (10-13-7) closes its three-game homestand with a game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Babcock said Bernier played well after replacing Sparks and that Bernier will start against the Kings, his former team.

"He goes in down 2-0 and he does a good job," Babcock said. "Let's be honest, he never thought he was playing. He's starting the next game and he's got to dig in and compete and battle. He's got to find his mojo."

San Jose came out gunning with Burns drilling a snap shot off the post 27 seconds into the game. San Jose went ahead at 2:01, six seconds after Toronto's PA Parenteau was penalized for tripping, when Burns slid a perfect pass to Pavelski, who one-timed a slap shot past Sparks. It was Pavelski's team-leading 15th goal of the season.

Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick took an interference penalty at 11:02; this time it took the Sharks power play unit 30 seconds to capitalize, with Patrick Marleau scoring his 13th goal of the season.

Sparks left the game following Marleau's goal. The Sharks were leading 14-5 in shots on goal at the time of the goalie switch.

The Maple Leafs made it 2-1 at 14:48 when Vlasic's pass up the middle was picked off. Holland broke in alone and snapped a low shot past goaltender Martin Jones for his fifth goal of the season.

Toronto tied it at 4:50 of the second period when Leo Komarov scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Komarov cut to the net and outwaited Jones, who fell to the ice, before beating him with a wrist shot.

Toronto went ahead for the first time at 19:14 when left wing James van Riemsdyk shoved San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon off the puck and then, from behind the Sharks net, banked a shot in off Jones' leg for his 10th of the season.

Toronto increased its lead to 4-2 at 1:59 of the third period on Michael Grabner's second goal of the season. Grabner's backhand shot from the slot was blocked by Dillon, but his second attempt, a high snap shot, beat Jones.

The Sharks got that goal back 1:11 later when Vlasic's shot from the point slipped through a crowd and beat a screened Bernier.

San Jose's Chris Tierney was awarded a penalty shot less than two minutes later after Hunwick slashed him on the arm while he was breaking in alone. But Bernier made the save.

The Sharks made it 4-4 at 11:49 when Matt Nieto crashed the net and stuffed Tierney's pass behind Bernier for his fourth of the season.

Babcock said he was pleased with his team's play after the opening period.

"They were way better than us and dominated us early," he said. "They took it to us big-time and we couldn't get in on their [defense] at all. Their top-four D really skated the puck out of their zone well, and they had us on our heels. In the end I was pleased with the way our guys responded. It was great to see them respond."

The Maple Leafs also lost center Nick Spaling early in the game with an upper-body injury. Babcock said Sparks and Spaling are both likely out long term.

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