The San Jose Sharks won 7-2 against Washington on Saturday night and moved their NHL best record to 17-3-1. The scary part is the club was not happy with a good portion of their performance.
“We didn’t start the first half like we wanted to, but we came on,” said Shelley.
Some of the disappointment admittedly was a part of an extended layoff with five days between their last game and the most recent victory.
“I thought the first half we were a little sluggish,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “The three goal lead allowed us to find our legs. We were concerned as a coaching staff (about the layoff). There is a lesson to be learned. It could be playoff series and the team coming is (on a role).”
Despite what they thought of their own play, the 17,496 on hand to witness the debut of the Black Armor uniforms were impressed with the 3-0 lead in the first period, especially considering the three tallies came off five shots.
“Things are going really well for us as a team,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Even when the Sharks were leading by four goals, they kept attacking as they were aware of the vaunted offensive players on the other side of the ice.
“Even when we were up 5-1, we were still trying to play our game,” said Vlasic. “When we were leading 3-0, they got a goal and a little momentum.”
Players from all four forward lines found their way to the scoresheet, but the big line of Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau
recorded a tally from each player.
“We have chemistry with each other and trust each other,” said Thornton. “Seto and Patty are great player and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Setoguchi has always been a big-time scorer, but he hasn’t been a part of the symmetry that he has with his current linemates.
“In junior hockey, you’re not playing with two of the best players in the NHL,” said Setoguchi. “We’re clicking and we hope to pick it up a lot more.”
Setoguchi was happy to score a goal with his mom in the audience.
Yes, Dan Boyle
was there with three helpers, but Vlasic, normally content to shut down the opponent’s top players, chipped in with a goal and an assist.
“I put the shot on net and it was a great lane,” said Vlasic. “I saw it all the way. Joe (Thornton) said he saw it from the box.”
Boyle was happy to watch Vlasic put his name on the scoresheet.
“It’s great when anyone not known for putting the puck in the net makes great plays,” said Boyle.
“Most players found a way to contribute tonight,” said McLellan.
One veteran offensive contributor came through in a big way as Rob Blake tied his career high with four helpers.
In the first period, fans of the fisticuffs were treated to a title bout as Jody Shelley and Donald Brashear squared off with everyone watching glued to the bout. For Shelley, a battle between to top ranked opponents is like two goal scorers having a big night.
“It’s good and it’s fun,” said Shelley. “Everyone enjoyed it.”
The Sharks players appreciated that a player of Brashear’s size wasn’t able to have his way all over the ice.
“He did a great job,” said Vlasic. “He got the team going right off the start.”
“Jody does what he does and he does it very well,” said McLellan. “Not a day goes by that we don’t appreciate him.”
Joe Thorton was given two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct when he stopped in front of Brent Johnson and blew some snow in his direction. The play happens regularly during NHL games, but this time it resulted in a penalty against Thornton.
“We’re taught to stop in front of the net and I got two minutes,” said Thornton. “It’s never happened to me before.”
It may have been a very rare call, but McLellan noted afterwards that it is in the NHL rule book.
“I haven’t seen it called before,” said McLellan. “As a coach, we want our players to go the net and stop in front.”
The Sharks debuted their new Black Armor uniforms Saturday night and proved to be effective no matter what color they are wearing.
San Jose’s players were very impressed with the new sweater, but Boyle had a fresh take on it.
“I think they make us look slimmer,” joked the blueliner.
McLellan made no bones about returning his number one netminder to the pipes against Chicago.
“Nabby on Wednesday,” said McLellan.
San Jose has now won 11 straight against the Capitals.
Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi all extended their point streaks to five games.
CAPITALS HEAD COACH BRUCE BOUDREAU
“I don’t know if the wheels fell off after the first goal. I thought despite being down 3-0, we played pretty well in the first period. They had three goals on five shots, and I think those shots were extremely well placed.”
“I thought we made three or four mistakes, and they are the kind of team that when you make mistakes, they will capitalize on it right away. We have been getting away with two or three mistakes a game, but tonight it really hurt us.”
“The Sharks are really good right now, they are very opportunistic…Look how many goals they have scored since the Calgary game…All three lines can score, and the fourth line got a couple of goals tonight.”
San Jose will host Chicago Wednesday at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 p.m. start that will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.