Last year the Sharks were the NHL’s best road club, but they made it a point to be just as effective at HP Pavilion this season. Actions definitely speak louder than words and Team Teal’s 7-0 start at home speaks volumes. The seventh straight home win came via a 3-1 handling of Minnesota that saw the Sharks turn come from behind thanks to three unanswered goals.
HP Pavilion has traditionally been one of the most difficult places to play in the NHL, but that reputation suffered a bit last year.
“It gives you a psychological advantage when your opponent knows they’re going to have a tough night coming in,” said Alternate Captain Mike Grier.
“It’s always nice to have your home ice be an advantage,” said Rob Blake.
It may not have gone exactly by the book on Tuesday, but the Sharks know routine to keep their home winning ways going.
“Whether it’s getting the first power play or being strong the first few shifts, getting the fans involved is important,” said Blake. “We want to do it through a more sustained pressure. The best defense is having the puck in their zone.”
Mike Grier says a big part of the improvement is the entire team is part of the solution.
“No one is trying to take on too much themselves,” said Grier. “That’s gotten us into trouble in the past when guys tried to do too much.”
The rink dimensions are the same across the NHL, but it’s the atmosphere that creates the biggest advantage.
“We have great fans and we feed off them,” said Blake.
It’s a feeding frenzy of sorts where the better the club plays, the more the crowd cheers and the cycle seems to just keep right on going in San Jose.
LOTS OF FRIENDS
While much was made of it when Todd McLellan faced Detroit, he saw just as many friends when he squared off against Minnesota. The Wild gave McLellan his first coaching job in professional hockey and he rewarded them an AHL championship while grooming several current Wild roster players.
“I’m proud of them,” said McLellan. “They have some great players, but they are excellent people.”
The Sharks Head Coach says he will always be tight with his former players.
“When you win (a championship) with a group of guys, you’re attached with them forever,” said McLellan.
McLellan has a great deal of respect for Jacques Lemaire, the Wild head coach.
“The way he deals with players, he’s a genius,” said McLellan. “There probably is not a better guy in the league at that. He has the ability to get guys in and get the best out of them.”
GORDIE HOWE HAT TRICKRyane Clowe
recorded the 10th Gordie Howe Hat Trick in Sharks history with a goal, assist and a fight against the Wild. The most recent occurrence was by Christian Ehrhoff on Jan. 6, 2007 vs. Columbus. Others to record the feat include Brad Stuart, Matt Bradley, Patrick Marleau
, Ron Stern, Owen Nolan (twice), Jim Kyte and Link Gaetz.
With the two points, Clowe extended his points streak to three games (3+1=4).
It was a great night on the stat sheet, but Clowe would have done one thing different as his opponent during the bout was wearing a helmet with a shield.
“I think I realized after the second or third punch, I should have taken his helmet off sooner,” said Clowe.
The Sharks may be perfect at home, but they are still not perfect. McLellan noted the club clearly did not start as he wanted and he will continue to tweak things.
“I thought early in the game we played poor, but after that we buckled down,” said McLellan. “Tomorrow we’ll have a practice and there are parts of the game we have to work on.”
Rookie Jamie McGinn scored his second NHL goal, the game-winner to boot, and now has three points in his first four NHL games.
“I’m just trying to play my game,” said McGinn. “We (the fourth line) are not worried about the goals, but are focused on limiting mistakes in our own end.”
The Sharks tied their home record for shots in a game with 49. The last time HP Pavilion fans saw 49 shots by the men in teal was March 16, 2008 against Edmonton.
FIRST PLACE OVERALL
With the victory on Tuesday the Sharks took over sole possession of first place atop the NHL points race. The Sharks have recorded 22 points out of a possible 26.
WILD HEAD COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE
“They had a lot of shots on net. They had a lot of good chances. I just wanted our guys to stay in the game, which they did. What changed the dynamic of the game was the second goal. It hit one player’s leg and then Backstrom made the save and then it hit another one of their players and it went in the net.”
“They have a lot of great players who made a lot of great plays. I thought we had some chances, but when you are playing against a top team, you can’t make mistakes.”
“We kept hitting and we got hit. I thought it was a very exciting game”
The Sharks will play next on Thursday night at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 p.m. contest against St. Louis. The game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.sjsharks.com.