The San Jose Sharks won their ninth consecutive home game with a late quirky goal and ran their record to an amazing 13-2-0 with a league leading 26 points. The Sharks now are tied for the third best home winning streak to start a season in the history of the NHL. The only better home winning streaks to begin a season are 11 (Chicago in 1963-64) and 10 (Ottawa 1925-26).
Brad Lukowich began the game-winning play by firing a puck up the ice to Patrick Marleau
who did the rest.
“I started to cut around and Lukowich made a hard pass and I got it in deep,” said Marleau.
Marleau couldn’t have predicted what happened next. As the Sharks Captain skated in with pressure, Marty Turco’s clearing passed bounced directly off Marleau and Sharks center attempted to stuff it in. His initial effort fell short, but in order to prevent a second shot, Turco reached for the puck and knocked in an own-goal.
How the win came didn’t matter to the Sharks, as they are just happy with the two points.
“We’ve been getting the wins and we just have to keep it going,” said Brian Boucher, who ran his record to 3-0 this year and a perfect 6-0 in his six starts in a Sharks jersey.
San Jose looked to be cruising to a 1-0 victory when a quirky turnover in their end resulted in Dallas tying the contest. Brad Lukowich lost a spinning puck behind the net and when Dallas gained control, they were rewarded with a second break when a shot came right off the boards and was tucked in behind Boucher.
The Sharks didn’t lower their heads, as they felt confident they would bounce back. Lukowich was not happy about the play, but is veteran enough to know that the breaks sometimes go against you.
“It was an unfortunate bounce,” said Lukowich. “It’s the way the game goes. When I came back to the bench, the guys gave me a pat and it was over.”
“He felt bad, but it’s just a hockey play and it’s nice to see him get rewarded,” said Boyle about Lukowich setting up the game-winner. “He played a great defensive game for us.”
“We’re human and he made a mistake,” said McLellan. “He played a good game.”
Brian Boucher’s shutout streak reached 163:41 on the season before the quirky tally ended the streak. Shutouts are nothing new to Boucher as he set a modern day NHL record with five consecutive shutouts while with Phoenix in 2003-04. That shutout streak reached 332:01.
Losing the shutout didn’t affect Boucher as the win was his focus on the evening.
“You can’t go into games thinking shutout,” said Boucher. “It’s tough to do every night.”
Boucher was asked if Evgeni Nabokov gave him any advice before the game.
“I just saw him in the morning,” said Boucher. “Goalies try to leave each other alone.”
The contest was not just close on the scoreboard as the Stars brought their tight checking game to HP Pavilion.
“Our players found a way to play different and found a way to win,” said McLellan. “(The game) was more tight checking. There were a lot of turnovers and it was not as free-wheeling. It was more like a playoff game. We have to learn to play in situations like that.”
San Jose’s first goal was picture perfect as Marleau, Joe Thornton
and Brad Boyle connected the dots.
Marleau crisply fed Thornton low and the big center softly delivered the puck back to a wide-open Boyle who put it past Marty Turco.
“When those guys are on the ice, you just get open,” said Boyle. “I’m glad I put it in. I should have 10 goals by now.”
Fifteen games does not a season make, but if the Sharks kept up the current pace for 82 games (yes it would be impossible), they would finish with 142 points.
Jody Shelley returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing Thursday’s game to celebrate the birth of his son. Dan Boyle
could be the next player to be in a similar situation.
“It’s close,” said Boyle. “It could be any minute at this point. Hopefully it will be a night when we’re not playing.”
McLellan is now 9-0 at home and ranks second all-time among coaches starting work with a new team.
People expecting Dallas’ Sean Avery to do something a bit unusual had the opportunity as he decided to squirt a water bottle towards the Sharks bench.
Marcel Goc returned to the lineup after missing time with an injury.
“It’s always bad to miss games at the beginning of the year,” said Goc. “It’s good to come back with the team playing so well.”
Still on the injured shelf are Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) and Jonathan Cheechoo (upper body) and both are listed as day-to-day.
According to the numbers compiled by Behind the Net (and reported on tsn.ca), the leaders in penalty differential (drawn - taken) this season are:
Devin Setoguchi, RW, San Jose, plus-8
Erik Cole, RW, Edmonton, plus-8
Patrick O'Sullivan, LW, Los Angeles, plus-8
Daniel Sedin, LW, Vancouver, plus-8
Marleau has seven points (2+5=7) in his current five-game point streak and he leads the club with 16 points.
STARS HEAD COACH DAVE TIPPETT
“It was a good game. Our goaltender played good. We hung in there”
“We found a way to get the tying goal in the third and we played well”
“This is a game you have to find a way to get a point and we didn’t”
The Sharks will face Phoenix Sunday at 6 p.m. and the game will be available on 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.