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Power play clicking early on for Sharks

by Dave Lozo
STOCKHOLM -- It's just two games, but the San Jose Sharks have every reason to be excited about their power play.

Even-strength play -- what little there was of it during their two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Series -- was the difference between coming away with four points instead of three. The Sharks had just one goal at 5-on-5, but were 4-for-14 with the man-advantage against the Jackets.

"We got such a good skilled group," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who scored two power-play goals at Globe Arena. "I think when we keep it simple and get shots through and get traffic in front, we're going to score a lot of goals. That's going to be one of our strengths this year -- make them pay when they go to the penalty box. But it looks good."

"The power play, I thought we moved it around pretty well tonight," said Dany Heatley, whose gorgeous pass from the side of the net set up Thornton's goal on Saturday. "We had a lot of good chances and good traffic and Joe made a great shot on that goal."

It's not exactly a surprise that the Sharks are off to a hot start on the power play. They finished fourth in the League in power-play efficiency last season at 21 percent. The problem in these two games was at 5-on-5.

The Jackets outscored the Sharks at even strength 3-1, including Ethan Moreau's overtime game-winner on Saturday night. The Sharks also had a chance to win the game when they went on the power play for the final 1:56 of regulation Saturday but came up empty.

It's clearly a small sample size of games played under special circumstances, but while coach Todd McLellan wasn't pleased with the outcome, he felt his team improved at even strength over the first two games.

"The power play got us four goals in two games," McLellan said. "That should be enough. Power play will be fine and it will continue to be fine. Five-on-five I thought we were much better today. You could see some growth in our game from last night to tonight. We learned a few lessons and we applied them. We took steps forward yet didn't get both points tonight."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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