NEW YORK -- Brad Staubitz, of all players, got the San Jose Sharks going Monday night. After the fourth-liner scored nearly 13 minutes into the first period, the rout was on at Madison Square Garden.
San Jose iced the New York Rangers seven-game win streak with a resounding 7-3 victory that included six unanswered goals. It was the Sharks second straight win after their horrendous performance at Washington last Thursday when they were outmuscled, outhustled and just generally outplayed in a 4-1 loss.
"In Washington we were basically a team that didn't want the puck," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told NHL.com. "Tonight we worked hard and put some plays together. We have definitely seen two teams this year."
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 8:34 into the game, but the Sharks stuck with it and Staubitz rewarded them with his first goal of the season. Dany Heatley struck on the power play later in the period and the Sharks were off to the races.
Thirteen of them had at least one point, led by Patrick Marleau's goal and two assists and Devin Setoguchi's two goals and an assist. Heatley tallied a goal and an assist and Jason Demers had two assists. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for his fifth win.
San Jose also beat the New York Islanders, 4-1, Saturday night.
"We hadn't established our game yet and they established theirs really early," Marleau said of the early 2-0 deficit. "We then had Staubitz step up and get a big goal for us and then Heater, and that kind of settled things down. We got into our game that way."
Despite the early hole, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the team was happy with its start.
Chris Drury scored off a deflection after Joe Thornton turned the puck over and rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto pounced on the loose puck for a power-play goal, his fourth of the season, to give New York its early lead.
Following that, though, the Sharks jumped all over the Rangers, outshooting them, 7-2, over the final 11:26 of the period.
Staubitz scored off the rush after stealing the puck away from Donald Brashear near the benches in the neutral zone. Heatley then used his speed to knife through the middle before using his backhand to beat Rangers' goalie Steve Valiquette to make it 2-2.
"Two huge goals and after that I thought we had the momentum for the rest of the game," Thornton said. "We just looked really fast. Our breakouts were great. We were supporting each other. I'm not sure what they were doing, but we looked really fast."
The Sharks chased Valiquette with three more on only 10 shots in the third period. Ex-Ranger Jed Ortmeyer scored off a rebound 1:19 into the period and Setoguchi netted a pair to give the Sharks a 5-2 lead.
Long Island native Ryan Vesce and Marleau each scored in the third period around an Enver Lisin goal for the Rangers.
"To be honest with you, I really don't know why it went south for myself and for all of us tonight," Valiquette said. "I certainly know the preparation was there and we have been going well. I don't really have an answer for you as far as why that went the way it did."
Rangers coach John Tortorella does.
"Penalties," the Rangers bench boss said.
"We just looked really fast. Our breakouts were great. We were supporting each other. I'm not sure what they were doing, but we looked really fast." -- Joe Thornton
The Rangers committed three in the second, including two by Sean Avery
in the offensive zone. New York had seven infractions in the game, five of which came in the offensive zone. They committed six penalties in their 4-1 win at Toronto Saturday night.
"I guess if guys don't stop taking them they are going to lose some ice time along the way here," Tortorella added. "Our offensive zone penalties, I don't know how many we have taken in the last three or four games but that has to stop."
The Sharks scored on two of their seven power plays, but the real story was how they played at even strength. They battled for loose pucks and closed off the wall, at times catching the pinching Rangers for odd man rushes.
Staubitz's goal was a direct result of Dan Girardi pinching too high and then Brashear losing the puck, creating a 2-on-1 for Staubitz and Scott Nichol against Wade Redden.
San Jose also went hard to the net (see the goals from Ortmeyer and Vesce). And, of course, it scored some pretty goals like Setoguchi's second and Marleau's tally in the third. Both were a result of some deft passing.
"A lot of play was happening along the boards and I like the fact that our team competed in those areas," McLellan said. "Often we're about passing and making nice plays, but tonight we were about being ugly there and the nice plays happened after that."
Now the Sharks have to keep it going. Inconsistent play has plagued them, but Monday they looked like the team that went nearly wire-to-wire to win the Presidents' Trophy a year ago.
"This is the team I expect to see," McLellan said. "I thought in Washington we weren't prepared to play the way we're supposed to play and we took five penalties and lost any sense of rhythm in the game. Tonight, despite getting behind, we had a lot of players involved and the fourth line was active. We're a better team when we do that."
-- Dan Rosen, NHL.com Staff Writer