Marleau had two goals, but the hero of the night was Jason Demers
who became just the third defenseman in Sharks history to score two power play goals in a game (joining Dan Boyle
and Doug Wilson). Prior to the opening faceoff, the question of the night was how would the Sharks defense respond without Dan Boyle
and Marc-Edouard Vlasic
, their two leading minutes men. There were no questions following the contest as the revamped blueline answered offensively and defensively.
“You can’t replace Boyle and Vlasic, but the guys who came up did a good job,” said Patrick Marleau
, who had two tallies on the night.
Demers’ tallies were a big part of the night as he twice tied the game when San Jose trailed by a goal.
“It was rolling,” said Demers of the power play. “We were moving the puck well and getting it to the net.”
“Jason had his head up and got shots to the net,” said Marleau.
Demers got the first two to the net, but it was Devin Setoguchi making sure Minnesota’s netminder couldn’t locate the shots. On both occasions that Demers scored, Setoguchi was moving in front and nearly tipped the puck for his own tallies.
“Both times he had a great screen,” said Demers. “On the first one, he moved out and the goalie could not see a thing. He gets two assists in my book.”
The plays were so close that Demers actually asked Setoguchi if he should have gotten credit.
“I did (ask),” said Demers. “I was going to celebrate and I pointed and said ‘is that yours?’ He was kind enough to not take it.”
“I was trying to tip it and maybe it was good I didn’t,” quipped Setoguchi.
Sometimes the movement of the game just goes in one direction and that was the case with both teams’ power play units.
“I think both power plays were spot on,” said Scott Nichol. “Down the stretch special teams will be huge. Teams have had 55 games to watch our system.”
“Any time you score four power play goals, it better be a win,” said McLellan. “It was a strange night, but it was a win. Like the game, I don’t know if the power play was pretty, but it got four.”
Even though San Jose’s penalty killers gave up a couple, they settled down and did their job at crunch time.
“You’re going to give up a few goals here and there,” said Nichol.
“Our penalty killing was better as the night went on,” said Marleau.
Nichol posted an impressive eight hits and came within one of the club record. Nine has been accomplished twice, most recently by Todd Harvey on 1/21/02 versus Edmonton. Ville Nieminen’s 15 hits versus Edmonton on May 7, 2006, is the amazing playoff record.
Pablo Sandoval dropped the puck the last game, but it was Patrick Marleau
showing off a little hand-eye coordination with the stick Saturday night. A pass on a two-on-one rush from Dany Heatley was tipped up in the air, but it stayed on target. Marleau simply used some baseball instincts and snapped the puck out of mid-air and into the net.
“It just hopped a bit, it was the right height and I got my stick on it,” said Marleau.
The Wild put 38 shots on Nabokov and thanks to Russia’s Olympic netminder, the damage was kept at a minimum, but the total was a negative stat for the night.
“Too many,” answered McLellan. “They earned a number and we gift wrapped a few others. We could eliminate some by eliminating turnovers.”
HIP CHECKS AND MORE
The fans appreciated when Derek Boogaard was charging the net and Rob Blake put him on the ice with a hip check.
On the PK midway through the second, Nichol got all of Greg Zanon in the neutral zone and sent him to the ice.
The hit of the game though may have been a bone crushing blow by Jed Ortmeyer late in the third.
Nabokov is the man in the crease, and the Sharks may have the best in the business, but the save of the night likely went to Jay Leach. At a point in the second when Nabokov had his stick knocked out of his hands and had come out to challenge a shot, the puck was maneuvered around him. As it headed to the goal line, Jay Leach reached in and pulled it to safety.
The game-winning tally came off the stick of Joe Pavelski
as he came down the left wing and perfectly slotted a shot to the far corner.
With two goals and an assist, Marleau has now scored 20 points (12-8=20) in his last 14 games. He continues to lead the league in goals with 37.
HAPPY BIRTHDAYTorrey Mitchell
celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday.
MINNESOTA WILD HEAD COACH TODD RICHARDS
“They’ve got guys that can make plays.”
“I like the way the guys battled and competed. We played hard. The first period was a tremendous pace. It was really fast.”
“I thought we outplayed them in the second period despite heading into the third period down 3-2.”
The Sharks players will take a deserved day off on Sunday.
The Sharks will host Detroit Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.