Suffice it to say that the San Jose Sharks
have bought into new coach Todd McLellan
's system wholeheartedly.
The Sharks (9-2-0) continued the best start in franchise history by completing a sweep of the Stanley Cup finalists with a convincing 4-2 victory over the defending champion Detroit Red Wings
on Thursday night. Two nights after San Jose dominated Pittsburgh in a 2-1 win, the Sharks pressed the issue from the start against the weary Red Wings and took command midway through the second period — giving McLellan a victory in his first game against his former team.
WHAT FANS ARE SAYING
"I think the Wings had a bit of a let down in this game..."
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"Our team keeps taking too many stupid penalties..."
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"New and improved Sharks? Dampen our spirits? Pfffft...."
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Rookie Jamie McGinn
's first NHL goal broke a 1-1 tie at 9:02, and Ryan Clowe beat Ty Conklin
at 10:26, capping a spurt of three goals in 3:25.
"They were better than us tonight," said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who coached for the first time against his former assistant. McLellan coached the Wings' special teams under Babcock for three seasons, including the Cup win last spring, before he was hired by the Sharks this summer. "When the other team is better than you, it's a humbling experience."
The Wings (7-2-2) were playing their fourth game in six nights and arrived in Northern California in the early morning hours after a wild 5-4 overtime loss in Anaheim on Wednesday that looked more like a playoff game.
McLellan conceded that the schedule played into the Sharks' hands.
"They had a late night and a physical game in Anaheim," McLellan said. "I don't know if the fans and media know how tough it is to play on the road. We wanted to combine speed with a little bit of physical play."
They did. But Detroit survived San Jose's early surge, got out of the first period scoreless and took the lead 18 seconds into the second period when Marian Hossa
beat Evgeni Nabokov
from the right circle.
However, the Sharks turned up the pressure and tied it when Joe Thornton
fed Patrick Marleau
from behind the net for an easy goal at 7:01. McGinn, playing only his second NHL game, then stuffed in his first goal to put San Jose ahead.
"It's something you dream about as a kid," McGinn said of his first goal. "We cycled the puck well. It all came from hard work."
Said McLellan: "What a great start to his NHL career."
Clowe fired a pass from Milan Michalek
behind Ty Conklin
for a power-play goal and a 3-1 lead.
"Most of my goals come from in front," he said. "I try to be a net-front presence."
The Wings had outshot their first 10 opponents while going 7-1-2. But the Sharks shut down Detroit from the start, and while the final margin was just 33-27, it was 27-13 after two periods.
"They had a lot more energy than we did," Babcock said.
added a goal at 6:08 of the third period as the Sharks improved to 6-0-0 at home. Brian Rafalski
's goal in the final minute made the outcome look closer than it was.
"The guys played really well," Marleau said. "If you take care of your own zone, it will lead to chances the other way."
McLellan got a win in his first meeting with his old boss. His success in helping Detroit win the Cup was a big reason why Sharks general manager Doug Wilson hired McLellan to replace the fired Ron Wilson after another playoff disappointment last spring.
"I was happy to see Todd," Babcock said. "I'm proud of Todd and the way his team is playing."
McLellan downplayed the importance of a single win — even if it was over the defending Stanley Cup champs … and his former employers.
"It's a win," he said. "It moves us two points ahead of the team behind us. But it's not about me. It's all about the players. People come to watch them play, not to watch us coach."
The Sharks are off until Sunday night's game at Colorado, giving them a little chance to savor their big week.
"We knew it would be a tough week," Clowe said. "We're pretty proud of this week. It's a confidence-booster going forward."
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.