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Sharks blank Jets for second straight shutout

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi are making it tough on San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan to pick a No. 1 goaltender.

Three days after Niemi made 34 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center, Stalock recorded a 30-save shutout Saturday night in a 3-0 victory against the Winnipeg Jets in the Sharks' home opener at SAP Center.

The Sharks had back-to-back shutouts to open a season for the first time in franchise history.

"Obviously the hard work we put in early on is paying off, and we're having a little success early," Stalock said. "The penalty kill has been sharp early, and that's huge, special teams. Second chances, they haven't had many, so it's been good."

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau each scored a goal for the Sharks, who led 2-0 in the first period and 3-0 at the end of the second.

The Sharks had plenty of chances to turn the game into a complete rout, but they went 0-for-8 on the power play and had zero shots in the third period.

"People who didn’t see the game, they’re going to say, ‘Boy, the Sharks are off to a pretty good start,’" McLellan said. "But that was not a well-played game on our behalf by any means. I thought we played a good 26, 27 minutes. Then after that we weren’t close to being the better team. I thought our power play absolutely sucked the life out of our team today. That’s probably as weak as it’s been in a long, long time. We have some work to do there."

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for the Jets (1-1-0), who face the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday at Staples Center.

The Sharks outshot the Jets 15-3 in the first period, but Winnipeg wound up outshooting San Jose 30-26 for the game.

"We got back to it in the third, and that's the way it should have been the whole game," Jets forward Andrew Ladd said. "The start got us behind the eight ball, and then we took too many penalties in the third to get back into it.

"We have to come out with a better start. We have to be on our toes and in their face. We're best when we play aggressively. Lesson learned. We were much more aggressive in the second and third and took away their time and space. You don't want to spend so much time in the box."

The Sharks (2-0-0) built a 2-0 lead early in the first period when Vlasic and Hertl scored goals 1:50 apart.

Vlasic took a pass from Logan Couture near the blue line and fired a shot into heavy traffic that banked off Jets defenseman Mark Stuart and past Pavelec at 3:22.

Hertl scored on a breakaway at 5:12, beating Pavelec to his stick side. Joe Pavelski ignited the break with a cross-ice pass to Joe Thornton, who zipped the puck ahead between two Jets to a streaking Hertl.

"I like breakaways," Hertl said. "I scored a lot of goals (on breakaways) last season."

The Jets turned up the pressure on Stalock in the second period, outshooting the Sharks 13-11, but he made every save, including a couple of gems.

"We feel confident with either one," Marleau said of Stalock and Niemi. "They’ve both proven that when they’re on top of their game, they’re good goalies.”

The Sharks extended their lead to 3-0 when Marleau scored on a breakaway with 29 seconds left in the second period. Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian couldn't control the puck near the blue line in San Jose's end, deflecting it to Sharks forward Matt Nieto, who hit Marleau in stride with a long pass. The speedy Marleau did the rest, beating Pavelec to his stick side.

After Marleau's goal, the Sharks offense disappeared, especially on the power play.

"It does surprise me a little bit," McLellan said. "You have to give the other team credit. They worked hard, they frustrated us. We were too stubborn. I thought early in the game it was all about style points. We weren’t prepared to do anything. Then when we got really frustrated, we couldn’t overcome their attack or anything like that. We’re a work in progress there. We tried to come up with two units, tried to play each of them. We even came up with a third unit tonight. It will take some time."

The Jets played without first-line forward Evander Kane, who was injured Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes in a knee-on-knee collision with linemate Mark Scheifele and will miss at least two weeks. Kane's injury forced the Jets to move third-line forward Dustin Byfuglien to the top line and insert Matt Halischuk into the lineup.

Byfuglien went to the penalty box twice. His night ended early when he slammed his stick on his way into the penalty box and received a game misconduct at 10:24 of the third.

"We had to spend almost an entire period in the box," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "There was some frustration that got built over the first 30 minutes, but we can't spend so much time in the box."

The Sharks, who play 15 of their first 21 games on the road, begin a five-game East Coast road trip Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. They won't play at home again until Oct. 23, when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sharks forward Mike Brown went to the locker room midway through the second period after blocking a shot with his left hand and didn't return.

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