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Sharks hand Islanders third straight loss

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks were down a defenseman and deadlocked with the New York Islanders with less than nine minutes left to play Saturday at SAP Center.

San Jose, long known for its home-ice dominance, looked in danger of falling at home for the third straight time.

But Logan Couture and James Sheppard scored back-to-back goals in a span of 4:15, lifting the Sharks to a 3-1 victory.

The Sharks (7-4-2) capped a stretch of 13 games in 24 days (nine on the road) to open the season. They won't play again until Thursday at home against the Vancouver Canucks.

"That was a big win for us," Couture said. "We hadn't played very well at home other than our first game. It's good to win at home after a long road trip. Now we have a couple of days to rest and get ready for Vancouver."

In their previous homestand, the Sharks lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres. But they've won three of their past four games and earned seven of a possible eight points.

"It was nice to finish that way and to win here at home," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Our last couple of games weren't what we wanted them to be in our own building. It's nice to go into the break that way."

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who was dropped from the first to the fourth line Saturday, scored a first-period power play goal for the Sharks, snapping his eight-game scoreless streak.

"I'm very happy to score," Hertl said. "Tommy Wingels passed it very, very nice. For me it was a very easy goal."

The Sharks lost Scott Hannan to an undisclosed injury with seven minutes left in the first period and played the remainder of the game with five defensemen. After Hannan left the game, the Sharks didn't give up a goal to an Islanders team that beat them 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 16 in New York. McLellan had no update on Hannan's injury.

"Our D played a heck of a game," Wingels said. "When you lose a guy early, it's taxing on the other guys. That being said, we were able to eliminate second and third opportunities. They would get us in our zone for 30 seconds at a time, but when you have the opportunity to break it out, get it out and get a change, I thought we were able to keep our shifts short and keep the puck out of our net."

The Islanders had 20 shots, and Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, making his fourth straight start, stopped 19 of them.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 28 shots for the Islanders, who have lost three straight games and the first two on their five-game road trip that continues Wednesday at the Anaheim Ducks.

"We had plenty of scoring chances," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "I think we were over 10 again. We have to find a way to score. When you're not scoring, players are trying to make things happen and you can't fault them for that. The frustrating part is how we'll we're playing and not scoring. We're up 1-0 and give up a power-play goal. We have to fix that. And we have to bear down on our chances."

Kyle Okposo scored the Islanders' only goal, giving them a 1-0 lead at 8:06 of the first period.

"I thought we played a solid game," Okposo said. "This is a tough building to play in. They got a lucky bounce to go up 2-1. We needed to do more to win. It was back and forth. We had chances and had good shifts."

After a scoreless second period, the Sharks took control midway through the third. Defenseman Justin Braun fired a shot from the blue line and Couture, positioned right of the crease, redirected the puck past Halak and into the upper left corner for his sixth goal of the season at 11:50.

"I was trying to tip it and get it up," Couture said. "But I was lucky it got in. Great look by [Braun]. Big goal."

Minutes later, a streaking Sheppard took a feed from Adam Burish in the slot and slammed the puck past Halak at 15:35 to make it 3-1.

Okposo gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the season. Okposo took a pass from Nick Leddy along the left boards, knifed past Sharks defenseman Brent Burns and beat Niemi from the left circle with a shot to the far side.

San Jose, which outshot the Islanders 17-6 in the first period, pulled even on Hertl's power-play goal at 10:23 with Ryan Strome in the penalty box for high sticking.

Planted firmly in front of the net, Hertl took a pass from Wingels and ripped a shot past Halak for his third goal of the season. By the second period, Hertl moved up to the third line, swapping places with Sheppard.

"The power play hasn't been a big issue for Tomas," McLellan said. "That second unit's been very effective. They've scored us some big goals, and Tomas got a part of it. I thought he skated and had a little more of an intensity to his game. We moved him up a line and rewarded him with that."

Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to lineup after missing four games because of an upper-body injury and made a quick impact. Midway through the first period, Burns fired a shot from close range on the power play, but Hamonic deflected the puck away from the net. Late in the period he nearly scored, but he hit the right post from the right circle.

"I wanted to make sure that when I did come back I could play the way I wanted to play," Hamonic said. "I tried to play physical. I got a couple of hits my first shift and that felt comfortable."

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