The San Jose Sharks used a diversified scoring effort to route Vancouver 5-2 Thursday night at HP Pavilion. San Jose opened with two first period goals that used one of the club’s top assets – speed.
Both Milan Michalek and Patrick Marleau
flew past lone defenders to break in and score alone on Curtis Sanford. On Michalek’s tally, Joe Thornton
hit him speeding up the ice at full throttle.
“Milan was obviously flying,” said Marleau. “Joe hit him with a great pass and he took the defender wide.”
Marleau noted, for those that couldn’t tell on the play, that Michalek is one of the NHL’s fastest players. He may even be the fastest.
“Top five, top three, he may be he top guy,” said Marleau.
San Jose knew the Canucks were playing there second game in as many nights and planned to use their talents.
“We talked about it before the game,” said Michalek. “They played last night and might be tired. We talked about using our speed.”
When Vancouver closed the gap to one, it was Thornton who responded. However, his tally was the result of excellent backchecking by Devin Setoguchi. The rookie winger forced a turnover, poking it directly to Thornton.
“He didn’t see me coming from behind,” said Setoguchi. “I was just pressuring from the back. I saw (Joe) and tried to tip it to him.”
Once Thornton had the puck, he took a few strides and blasted a one-timer.
“He went in with a hard shot,” said Setoguchi. “It came out as fast as it went in.”
“Joe put our confidence up again,” said Bernier.
The tally kept the Sharks from having to sweat out the final few minutes with Vancouver pulling their goalie.
“It was a huge boost,” said Nabokov. “You don’t want to go into the last two to three minutes and they get another fluky goal.”
The first fluky goal came on Vancouver’s second tally when Nabokov made the initial stop, but couldn’t locate the puck.
“To be honest, I thought I had it and I fell back,” said Nabokov. “The referee didn’t blow the whistle, so I knew something was up.”
Steve Bernier also scored in the third to thwart the Canucks rally. On his play, he was do the standard forecheck and the Vancouver defender simply lost the puck.
“I didn’t touch the puck,” said Bernier. “He coughed it up by himself. He’s a great player and it happens to everyone. I had a bad turnover on their second goal.”
STRONG AT HP
The victory marked the Sharks second consecutive victory, displaying a change from October and November when the Sharks struggled at home.
“We want this to be a tough building to play in,” said Marleau.
“It’s nice to get the win and I hope it continues,” said Michalek. “We haven’t won two in a row at home in a long time.”
For Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson, the past two months are in the rear view window.
“We’re second in the Western Conference,” said Wilson. “That’s all that matters. We are where we are and we’re just thinking of moving forward. If we keep playing like this, we don’t have to worry about how we played the first two months at home.”
The Sharks (17-9-4) have now won six of their last seven games, giving them 38 points on the season, and leaving them just four points off last season’s pace. Only Detroit has more points among Western Conference teams.
MARLEAU COMING ON
With his first period goal, Marleau has now picked up four points (2-2=4) in his last five games, having played center the past two games.
“It feels good,” said Marleau. “Being back at center is more natural, but where they need me to play, I’ll play.”
“It’s nice to see Patty and Bernier playing great together,” said Michalek.
Marleau’s goal came in the crucial final minute of a period.
“The goal by Patty was huge in the last minute,” said Wilson. “It put an exclamation point on the way we played.”
4 IN 3Joe Pavelski
scored a goal in the second period, giving him four points (2-2=4) in his last three games.
The Sharks will host Dallas at Saturday at 1 p.m. in a game on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.