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Sharks set new record with win against Kings

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
A few thoughts before I start the bidding for naming rights on my apartment:

Sharks make history -- As far as the first 30 games of an NHL season are concerned, no team ever has accomplished what the 2008-09 San Jose Sharks did Monday night.
   
With a 3-2 shootout victory against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center, San Jose improved to 25-3-2. Those 52 points are the most garnered by any club just 30 games into a campaign.
   
Translation: The Sharks no are longer the hunter. They are the hunted. And they know it.

''We like to think that with the good start we had, a lot teams have us circled on the schedule,'' said forward Ryan Clowe, who scored in regulation and the shootout. ''They want to play their best and they are motivated to play us. The Kings played hard. They're not giving up a lot of shots for a reason. They play a good game in their own end.''
  
Patrick Marleau extended his personal record Monday night as he scored his 254th goal as a member of the Sharks -- the most in franchise history -- on a shorthanded breakaway. With the victory, San Jose moved eight points ahead of Detroit in the Western Conference.
   
''It's a nice cushion for us, but we want to keep playing well and get points every night,'' Marleau said. ''We've won games all different ways -- blowouts, come-from-behind, shootouts … we've won some crazy games and some good character-building games.''
   
Only twice since the NHL expanded in 1967-68 has a U.S. team west of Dallas finished with the League's best record. Colorado accomplished the feat with 107 points in 1996-97, and did it again with 118 points in 2000-01.
 
There's still more than a month until the All-Star break, and the Sharks are more than halfway to 100 points.
   
''I've never been a part of something like this,'' Marleau said. ''We push each other in this room. The guys hold each other accountable. I mean, we're a fun group -- but at the same time, we demand a lot from each other. And I think that's why we've had the start that we've had.''
   
The Kings jumped to a 2-0 lead Monday night and had every chance to win. Afterwards, they couldn't help but tip their caps to the League's best team.
   
"They're a good team, obviously," L.A. forward Patrick O'Sullivan said. "Just look at their record, it's pretty impressive. We showed that we are capable of playing with them throughout the entire 60 minutes. It's going to give us some confidence and we thought we probably could have won the game, maybe should have won the game."
   
Kings coach Terry Murray agreed.
   
''We played the premiere team in the League right now and played pretty well against them,'' Murray said. ''We had opportunities. We had the lead. We had power-play opportunities. We just wish we would have generated a little more on it. I think it's a good learning situation anytime you can play against the premiere teams in the League like this.''

'Drew gotta believe -- Playing behind Peter Budaj has forced Colorado Avalanche goalie Andrew Raycroft to watch a lot games this season.
   
But when called upon by coach Tony Granato on Monday night in Detroit, Raycroft made the most of a rare opportunity.
   
Raycroft, who had started just one game and made two appearances in the past six weeks, made 34 saves to lead Colorado to a 3-2 victory. The win snapped Detroit's five-game home winning streak.
   
Raycroft, who beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 16 days earlier in his only other start since Oct. 30, stopped 27 shots over the final two periods to win for the third time in four career decisions against Detroit.
   
"You expect to battle hard, anyways," said Raycroft. "You don't ever really know what you're going to get, but I felt great out there. We've been working real hard with Hack (goaltending coach Jeff Hackett), and it paid off tonight."
   
 
 
The victory helped the Avs move one game above the .500 mark at 15-14-1. With 31 points, Colorado is tied with the Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
   
"We've let it slip a little the last month," Raycroft said. "We've had some leads and didn't carry through, and tonight, it's nice to do that on the road. It gives us some confidence and an idea of what we need to do on a nightly basis."

Pens' arena gets a name -- So long, Mellon Bank. Hello, CONSOL Energy.
   
With the Pittsburgh Penguins moving into a state-of-the-art facility in 2010, the team announced Monday that it has agreed to a 21-year deal with the company to call the new facility the CONSOL Energy Center.  
"We are excited to extend our partnership with CONSOL Energy.  We think there is some great synergy involving one of the nation's leading energy companies, an energetic young hockey team and this vibrant city and region." -- Penguins co-owner and chairman Mario Lemieux









A major partner of the organization for several years, CONSOL Energy is most commonly known by fans for its energizing "Power to the Penguins" video played prior to games. The company also sponsored the giant television screen outside Mellon Arena during the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
   
"We are excited to extend our partnership with CONSOL Energy," said Penguins Co-Owner and Chairman Mario Lemieux. "We think there is some great synergy involving one of the nation's leading energy companies, an energetic young hockey team and this vibrant city and region."   
   
Congrats to both parties on the 21-year deal. It only was a matter of time before someone eclipsed Rick DiPietro's contract.

Contact Brian Compton at bcompton@nhl.com.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.


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