If there was any worry about the Sharks letting their foot off the gas pedal after clinching the Pacific Division title that thought went out the window with their solid 3-1 win against Phoenix Sunday evening. The Sharks have now not lost in regulation in the last 19 consecutive games (17-0-2). The 28 points and 13-0-2 mark in March makes for the best month in Sharks history.
“It was a great effort,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “The guys were doing all the little things. I thought we totally controlled the game. We let them know early with that goal in the first shift that we wanted to win the game tonight.”
The victory was important as the Sharks still have a chance catch Detroit as they trail by five points with six games remaining. It is doubtful though that Detroit would not clinch the Presidents’ Trophy by finding just one more victory and Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson will focus on having his club rested for the postseason. Even while resting players, they will still keep their eye open on the possibility of the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded for top overall record.
“The guys are still playing hard,” said Joe Thornton
. “We have three left and we want to win them all.”
CLOWE BACKRyane Clowe
played his first game since October 27 when he suffered a knee injury and received a raucous ovation when he was announced as a starter.
“I was kind of hyped up, I’m not going to lie,” said Clowe. “It felt like my first game.”
After the game, Clowe was the focal point of the media thanks to his assist on the opening goal 14 seconds in.
“It seems like you guys have been waiting five months for me,” joked Clowe.
Clowe could be in a laughing mood thanks to the victory and strong return.
“It felt good,” said Clowe. “In the second and third, the legs felt good.”
“Clowe played real well,” said Wilson. “We wanted to get him involved early in the game to take away some of the nervousness and on the first shift he got an assist. He does a lot of nice things and he will only get better.”
For most players returning to action after a long layoff, there is a play during the contest that lets them know the injury is 100 percent healed.
“I went to hit (Morris) and I bounced off,” said Clowe. “I felt good and it wasn’t in the back of my mind after the game.”
Clowe had several chances on the evening to find the back of the net, but couldn’t quite connect.
“Rizz could have had a career assist night if I’d buried those,” said Clowe. “I’m glad Ron played me as much as he did.”
Clowe played 15:06 on a night where no Sharks forward played more than Joe Pavelski
“We’re rolling four lines,” said Thornton. “Everyone will be fresh for the postseason.”
“Some guys will get time off and others guy will get to sharpen up their games,” said Wilson.
KEEP SCORINGJoe Thornton
’s two goals were his eighth in the last five games and he just missed on a second hat trick against Phoenix with a deflection Sunday. Thornton has totaled 20 points in the last 12 contests.
“When you’re scoring, you want to keep shooting,” said Thornton. “You never know.”
Another player scoring well right now is Curtis Brown who has three goals in his last six games.
“When you are out with an injury, you realize how much you miss the game,” said Brown. “You want to do what you can to contribute. There is a lot of pressure to fit in and contribute when you’re out there.”
MIXING IT UP
Wilson took the opportunity to mix up his lines and Tomas Plihal saw some time with Patrick Marleau
and Pavelski as Devin Setoguchi had the night off.
“I was trying to reward Plihal,” said Wilson. “We want to see what some guys can do come the playoffs.”
WILSON ADDRESSES FANS
Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson addressed season ticket holders prior to the game and virtually every topic was addressed.
A few excerpts follow.
On the Sharks ties to Campbell, in addition to his friendship with Joe Thornton
“His agent is my former agent,” said Wilson. “We’ve been after a player like him for several years.”
On curved sticks and whether he is for a bigger curve being legal.
“Did I ever get caught,” questioned Wilson. “No, I used a legal stick in the third period.”
On whether he likes the rules being called the same in the playoffs as they are in the regular season.
“It makes no sense to enforce the rules the least when it matters the most,” said Wilson.
NABOKOV PLAYS AND WINS
Evgeni Nabokov set a single season high in appearances (74) and wins (45), which places him first in the league for wins.
COYOTES HEAD COACH WAYNE GRETZKY
“We played much better than we did the other night in L.A. San Jose is a really good hockey club. We had some turnovers, young mistakes, but all in all, our goaltender was solid. We didn’t get into a run-and-gun game. We played pretty well tonight.”
“I’ve said it all year, [the San Jose Sharks] are good. They’re goaltender is solid. They’ve got size and speed. They have tremendous depth. And, they’ve got a centerman (Joe Thornton
) who’s in the top three or four players in the game. When you’ve got a centerman that size, who’s that good, and works that hard, you’re tough to beat. And, they’re going to be a tough team to beat. I think they’re a very, very good hockey club.”
San Jose will finish their home schedule Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. against Los Angeles and the game will be carried on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.