For the second straight night the Sharks found themselves in a game against a team fighting for a playoff spot and one playing with a big chip on their shoulder. Even a ton of extra unpleasantries from Los Angeles, San Jose stood up for themselves and more importantly, tied a franchise record with their 25th home victory in a season with a 4-2 score.
“Those teams are fighting to get in the playoffs and we have to compete with that,” said Rob Blake.
“There are five guys our there and if something happens, it is one for all and all four one,” said Lukas Kaspar.
One of the biggest cheap shots came when Patrick Marleau
was elbowed in the head going for a puck along the boards. Just like against the Oilers in the previous game, the Sharks did not back down from anything and a scrum quickly ensued with Blake and Devin Setoguchi being sent to the penalty box. Christian Ehrhoff was also on the end of a bad hit at one point and Joe Thornton
was involved in a scrum while trying to celebrate a goal.
“I thought the response was good and we ended up even,” said Blake.
Marleau would rather see that type of hit not happen in the first place.
“Guys should hit the body instead of the head,” said Marleau.
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan underplayed the scraps.
“It’s hockey and it’s supposed to be rough,” said McLellan. “We can stand our ground and hold our own. We’re a big team and we can stick up for ourselves.”
Lukas Kaspar registered an assist in his first game playing alongside Thornton. In his second game he scored a goal playing with Jumbo Joe.
“I had a couple of chances and try to the do the best I can,” said Kaspar. “I should have scored a couple more. It is fun to play with him. It’s easy. He tells me where he wants the puck, usually behind the net – that’s his office. Then I just find the soft spot near the top of the circle.”
VLASIC STEPPING UPMarc-Edouard Vlasic
scored the game-winning goal, his fifth tally of the year, and finished second on the club with five shots. He has been making a concentrated effort to elevate his offense.
“The puck was nicely placed,” said Vlasic of the Joe Thornton
pass. “When you get five to six shots, hopefully one will go in. The last game I had zero shots, so I couldn’t score. You have to give the forwards a chance and sometimes it will go in.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Vlasic’s game winner made him the 18th different player to post a game-winning goal for San Jose, a number than leads the NHL.
Marleau continued his hot play with Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo and says the adjustment has been simple.
“I’ve been watching those guys for 50 some games,” said Marleau.
The Sharks are close to seeing Brad Lukowich return to the lineup.
“Brad has been cleared to play,” said McLellan. “He needs to get some practice in and get his game polished a little more.”
On Tuesday, Claude Lemieux received his first penalty minutes with the Sharks. On Thursday he earned his first assist with the Sharks on Milan Michalek’s goal. The last time he contributed an NHL point was on March 9, 2003, when he earned an assist while playing for the Stars in a 3-0 win over San Jose in Dallas.
Marleau is now tied with Marian Hossa (DET) for fourth in goal scoring the NHL with 33 goals. He and Hossa trail Alex Ovechkin (WSH, 42), Zach Parise (NJ, 35), and Jeff Carter (PHI, 34.)
Tonight’s win was Evgeni Nabokov’s 30th of the season. It is the fifth time in his career that Nabokov has earned 30 or more wins in a single season
KINGS HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY
“You’ve got two division teams really desperate to do things. We’re desperate to get into the playoffs. They’re looking to get first in the conference – first overall, home ice in the playoffs. That puts a little more focus on the playing of the game. I thought we, after playing last night, just didn’t come out the way we have in those [other road] games. We [usually] play very well on the road. We just didn’t match their intensity. They came at us pretty good. Yeah, it was close score-wise, but they were winning a lot of the board battles.”
“We got some good goaltending to hold us in there early.”
On playing back-to-back games:
“It’s not an excuse… It’s part of the schedule, you deal with it and you go play. You shorten your shifts, you keep fresh by being alert to how long you’re out there and try to set a high tempo.”
On the physical play:
“We only decided to do it in the third period – playing hard, playing heavy and competing. You gotta compete. You’re trying to be a good hockey club. You gotta push back, you gotta get your ice and hold your ice. We did not do that as well in the first two periods.”
The Sharks will have an afternoon affair against Atlanta on Saturday at 1 p.m. and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.