Behind a brilliant four-point first period from Joe Thornton
, San Jose exploded to a 4-0 lead on the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, defeated their old coach, and most importantly, posted their 43rd point in 25 games, tying the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens for the best start in NHL history. The victory was the Sharks eighth in a row.
“We talked about it before the game, but we didn’t want to jinx it,” said Devin Setoguchi, who added a goal and an assist.
So what do the 21 wins in 25 games mean?
“The record is something we’re proud of and we are pleased with, but again it’s about the full 60 minute effort,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We had a pretty good effort for the most part tonight, but not consistent enough to be a team that can win at the end. So we’ve still got some work to do.”
“No doubt, it’s a great thing,” said Dan Boyle
, who popped in a goal. “You see tonight, it’s not like we’re jumping for joy. There are a lot bigger and better things to come.”
San Jose’s four-goal outburst provided Round Table Pizza for all in attendance and closed out the contest before it was really underway.
“The game was over after the first 10 minutes,” said Thornton. “It was business as usual.”
In the contest, Thornton marked his third anniversary with the club and tied Vincent Damphousse’s iron man mark by playing in his 247th consecutive game in teal.
Thornton’s four points in a period tied a franchise mark that has been reached four other times.
“You’ve got to get lucky to get that many points in a period,” said Thornton.
Thornton’s goal came off an unusual play where Toskala could not locate the puck as it danced on top of the net.
“I thought that was staying on the net and it bounced down,” said Thornton. “I took a stab at it. It was a lucky bounce.”
There was a bit of good fortune on Thornton’s dazzling no look, backhand pass that Marc-Edouard Vlasic
put away with Patrick Marleau
crashing the crease.
“I heard he was trying to go to Patty,” said Vlasic. “I thought he was trying to get it to me. With Joe, you’ve got to be ready to get the puck at any time.”
Sharks defenseman Rob Blake and center Joe Pavelski
both extended their respective point streaks. Blake recorded an assist, while Pavelski notched a short-handed goal and an assist. Blake now has (3-6=9) nine points in the last six games and Pavelski (4-2=6) has six points in the last three.
Center Riley Armstrong made his home debut as a member of the Sharks after making his NHL debut in Phoenix. His billet from his junior days with Everett came down to watch.
“Coming in, it’s breathtaking with the sellout crowd and coming out of the Sharks head,” said Armstrong. “I played in exhibition games, but the regular season is different.”
Game two seemed to go smoother for the rookie who played under former Sharks coach Kevin Constantine while in junior hockey.
“I felt a little more relaxed,” said Armstrong. “It was better to be here with a day of practice than to fly in the day of game.”
Late in the game, Tomas Plihal took a late hit that was very unnecessary with less than 60 seconds left in the contest.
“It was a dumb play and the kid will learn,” said Douglas Murray
However, the cavalry, including Murray, was quick to step in, and it was led by a surprising player.
“Marcel went right in,” said Murray. “This is a tight team.”
VISITING HEAD COACH RON WILSON
“Well I wouldn’t use [traveling] as an excuse. We had our best guys going against theirs, especially in the first period. But you look at some of our young guys like Grabovski, Kulemin, Luke Schenn, Hagman – they really worked their butts off all night, and did a really good job when they were on the ice, really, but unfortunately it wasn’t our night.”
“They come at you really fast and we kind of expected that – a quick start – and we just weren’t ready for it. They got a couple of lucky bounces. You see the way they crash the net; they’re going to cash in. If we somehow could have survived maybe the first ten minutes of the game, we would have found an equilibrium. That was one where you throw the white towel in the corner, you know, in a boxing match.”
“We’ll get some rest tomorrow. We said it’s tough to come this far and get back to back and play this team when they’re all fired up. But we’ll get some rest tomorrow and then bounce back again in Phoenix.”
“No, [Toskala] had no help there, point blank. We were standing around in the first period and they were minus three and that can’t happen. On the road you can’t really control some of your changes. They were matching their top line against ours and we just got beat.”
“[A win in San Jose] wouldn’t have made my season or anything like that. It’s one game and I’ve coached, I don’t know, 1100-and-whatever games. It’s one game on the schedule. Sure, you’d like to do better than we did tonight, maybe a little more than losing a game, but what are you going to do?”
“No, I didn’t see it [the tribute on the big screen]. I was licking my wounds at that point. I didn’t know when they did it or what the score was, but it wasn’t fun being on the bench the first period.”
The Sharks will next face Columbus on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office. The contest will be aired on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.