The introductions during pregame ceremonies had the crowd at playoff levels during the Sharks home opener as the fans watched three banners unveiled from the rafters. However it was the actions of newcomer Dany Heatley that kept them in playoff mode throughout the night.
Doug Wilson’s big offseason acquisition came through in style during his home debut. Scoring once to give his new team a lead might have sufficed, but the big sniper from Alberta pulled off the hat trick and sent HP Pavilion into a frenzy.
The momentum was flowing in the third period when Heatley was cut down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He already had two goals and there was no doubt what was going to happen next as “Heater” finished off the hat trick.
“I think he’s found a nice home here,” said Joe Thornton
“It’s what we got him for,” said Boyle. “It’s great to see him off to a good start at home.”
There was no better way to get to know the locals.
“It was a great night,” said Heatley after posting his eighth career hat trick. “You always want to start like that. The crowd was great right from the introductions. It’s a great place to play.”
It was a big night for the entire line in fact as Thornton tied a club record with four assists and Devin Setoguchi also found the back of the net.
“As a group, the three of us are starting to gel really well,” said Heatley. “We’ve got a lot of skill and size.”
“It was a very dangerous line as the night went on,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “They’re starting to instinctively know where each other is on the ice.”
Following his third goal, the chant of Dany Heatley filled the building. It could be scary if the first impression is a sign of things to come.
THAT’S A PLUS
Heatley also tied a franchise record for plus/minus with a +6. That was last accomplished by defenseman Michal Sykora back in 1996.
On first glimpse, looking at Heatley’s annual scoring knack and his penalty shot effort in the opener, it would appear that Heatley would be a natural for the shootout. Heatley noted that may not be the case.
“My shootout percentage is horrible,” said Heatley.
McLellan acknowledged that stat after the game, but had a different outlook.
“He’s one for one as a Shark,” said McLellan.
tied the Sharks record for most assists in a game with four helpers. It is the 18th time a Sharks player has posted four assists and the last time it was accomplished it was by the hands of . . . Thornton.
Thornton joked the assists weren’t extremely difficult.
“My job is really easy,” said Thornton. “Just give it to Heater and Seto.”
With just under seven left in the second and Columbus carrying the momentum of their tying goal, the Blue Jackets used a quick pass to send an attacker in on Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks goalie came out with the pad stack to make the highlight save of the game.
FACING OLD MATES
Many Malhotra is one of the new guys in San Jose, but during Thursday’s home opener he saw a lot of familiar faces.
“It’s just another hockey game,” explained Malhotra. “It’s a little bit different since I know the guys over there so well, but for the most part, once the puck dropped, it was back into game mode.”
The six-foot-two, 220-pound native of Mississauga, Ontario recorded two penalty minutes and one shot in fourteen minutes and thirty-one seconds on the ice. He also won seven of twelve face-offs on the night.
“It was fun obviously --- talking to reporters and stuff this morning, they try to hype up the rivalry thing with me having been there so long,” added Malhotra. “But I think what was most important for us is that we played a really good game and got a really good team win. We got back to playing good hockey.”
Malhotra doesn’t have to look far for advice on handling this type of bittersweet situation. Left wing Jody Shelley has been in the same pickle. After spending seven years in Columbus, Shelly was dealt to San Jose on January 29, 2008. Eleven days later he was playing against his former squad at HP Pavilion.
“I’m sure he’s been excited all day thinking about it,” said Shelley. “But once you get out there, it’s just a hockey game against familiar faces.”
For the Sharks opening tally, Dan Boyle
took a pass at center ice from Joe Thornton
and took it the rest of the way himself. With plenty of open ice thanks to a four-on-four situation, Boyle fired from near the left faceoff dot, lifting the puck past Steve Mason.
“I’m trying to remind myself to shoot a little more,” said Boyle.
Just 1:34 into the third period, Thornton set up Setoguchi for the Sharks fifth goal and Ken Hitchcock used the opportunity to pull his netminder.
Moments after Ryane Clowe
came out of the penalty box in the second and performed some strong board work, he and the Blue Jackets Mike Blunden ended up in a scrap. Blunden headed to the lockerroom after sustaining a cut.
That was immediately followed by an extended bout with Frazer McLaren and Derek Dorsett.
“We’re not concerned with that,” said McLellan about situations when other teams are looking to fight. “We have people to take care of that.”
When cameras flashed an in-house view of Jeremy Roenick attending the game, the crowd roared their appreciation for his two years of wearing teal.
The Sharks home opener was a sellout with the new total of 17,562. The number went up this summer when seats were added inside HP Pavilion.
BLUE JACKETS HEAD COACH, KEN HITCHCOCK
“We were playing well and we really had a good first period. The game was half way through and then we just got beat. We got beat on two or three goals and we got beat down low. Their best players were their best players in the second half of the game.”
“Their team played hungry and desperate and we matched it for 35 minutes and we couldn’t carry it through.”
HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER
The Sharks will host their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night on Saturday, Oct. 10 against the Minnesota Wild. The 2009-10 season marks the 12th year of Hockey Fights Cancer. This league wide charitable initiative was founded by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to raise money and awareness for hockey's most important fight. The first program will commence on October 9 and will include involvement from all 30 clubs, players, management and fans.
The San Jose Sharks will host members of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (Palo Alto, CA) and Children’s Cancer Community (Sonoma, CA) during the home game at HP Pavilion at San Jose. A special in-game auction featuring used sticks from members of the 2009-10 team will be held at the Sharks Foundation booth. Monies raised from the in-game auction will benefit LPCH. After the game, a select group of attendees will be invited downstairs to the Sharks locker room for a special meet and greet with the athletes.
San Jose Sharks coaches, broadcasters and hockey executives will be wearing commemorative “Hockey Fights Cancer” ties in conjunction with Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month. Furthermore, all NHL Players will wear a Hockey Fights Cancer decal on their helmets during all regular season games in October.
Throughout the month of October, each NHL Club will host a Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night to help raise money and awareness for this important cause. To date, more than $10.5 million has been raised to support national and local cancer research institutions, Children’s Hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations.
You can join hockey’s most important fight by logging on to shop.nhl.com or by visiting the Sharks Store to purchase commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer items. A portion of the proceeds from your purchase will benefit Hockey Fights Cancer.
For more information on Hockey Fights Cancer, visit www.nhl.com.
The Sharks will host Minnesota on Saturday night in a 7:30 p.m. contest that will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at www.ticketmaster.com.