San Jose had been down after the first 40 minutes just five times entering Saturday’s game against St. Louis. They had lost three of those games – all on the road.
The trend continued on Saturday night. The Sharks overcame a 3-2 deficit to score three times in the third period in a 5-4 come-from-behind win. Now, San Jose is 3-3 when down after two periods with all three wins coming at HP Pavilion.
“I don’t think anybody wants to live on the edge,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said.
McLellan thought the team needed a change of approach and addressed the situation during the second intermission. “We started to play as individuals a little bit and started pressing with a lot of time left,” he said about San Jose’s play in the second period. “We got our team game back and stuck with the game plan and were lucky enough to pull ourselves out.”
“We came out in the third period and wanted to stick to our game plan that we got away from,” left wing Patrick Marleau
, whose second goal of the night at 14:57 of the third won the game, said. “We got pucks in, cycled, moved it pretty quick and found the back of the net.”
San Jose’s “team” aspect of the game was a big factor in the third – especially early in the third period. At 14:59, left wing Milan Michalek was called for hooking and the Sharks took a team penalty for having too many men. On top of that, defenseman Rob Blake played without his stick for most of that time. When the penalties expired, the Blues got three shots on goal and a few close calls, but nothing else.
“You never want to be down 5-on-3 for a full two minutes,” right wing Devin Setoguchi said. “It was a great effort.”
“They could’ve easily picked up a couple of easy goals on that 5-on-3 and taken the lead,” McLellan said. “That would’ve removed a lot of the wind out of our sails. The penalty kill really did a good job tonight. They were there to rescue us.”
For most of the season, San Jose has dominated their opponents, as evidenced by their 24-3-2 record. However, a season is full of challenges and Saturday’s game gave the Sharks a chance to show their character.
“We’re never going to give up,” Setoguchi said. “We have such a great hockey club. We’re not going to roll over and die. We seem to be finding ways to win and that’s what a team that wants to be a championship team does.”
THE MARLEAU FACTOR
Marleau scored San Jose’s first goal in the first period and came through with a backhand late in the third for the game-winner. Marleau’s two-goal game was his third on the season and first since Oct. 22 at Philadelphia.
San Jose’s captain now has 18 points in his last 13 games. He’s also four goals shy of his total from last season (19).
Why is Marleau worthy of All-Star consideration? McLellan has known Marleau only since training camp, but he had a few ideas.
“He’s enjoying the game and is playing a different position,” McLellan said about the one-time center and now left wing. “He’s getting the puck to the net a lot more than in the past. Probably it’s the confidence. It’s amazing what confidence can do for a person.”
“He’s the captain of our team and he’s going to lead our team,” Setoguchi said of his linemate. “He’s played great for us. He’s taken charge and he’s playing great.”
San Jose has recorded a point in their last 27 home games dating back to last season. Over this period, the Sharks are 24-0-3…Evgeni Nabokov played in his 450th game on Saturday night. He’s now fourth on the all-time list for most games by a goaltender with one team. New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur is No. 1 with 978, followed by retired Rangers legend Mike Richter (666) and Hall of Famer Turk Broda (629). Dallas’ Marty Turco (408) is fifth…Center Joe Pavelski
didn’t play in the third period. McLellan said after the game that he has a lower body injury…San Jose begins a three-game road trip on Monday night in Los Angeles. This will be their longest trip since taking a three-game swing in late October (the Sharks went 2-1). Following their game with the Kings, San Jose travels to Columbus on Wednesday and will be in Detroit on Thursday.