The San Jose Sharks are now 4-0 for he first time in franchise history thanks to an impressive 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a night where the Sharks trailed twice before exploding for the three-goal win.
“It’s a pretty good start,” said Captain Patrick Marleau
. “It’s a good feeling getting four in a row. We’ve got a nice win, an ugly win and some where we stuck with it.”
The night was dedicated to the special teams as just two of the seven tallies came at even strength. San Jose scored one power play goal while Columbus had two, but it was the Sharks two shorthanded markers that sealed the deal.
With San Jose trailing 1-0, Joe Pavelski
forced a turnover while down a man and fed Jonathan Cheechoo in the slot. The Moose Factory, Ontario product delivered with his third of the year. The second shorthanded tally came when Mike Grier’s aggressive forechecking created a turnover behind the Columbus goal line. Grier then fed Marleau out front and his wrister provided San Jose a two-goal cushion.
San Jose clearly was aggressive on the penalty kill throughout the night.
“The longer the puck is in their end, the less we have to play four-on-five in our end,” said Cheechoo.
Marleau led the Sharks offensive attack by adding a helper to go with his two goals. He also paced the team with five shots.
“He’s been playing great,” said Thornton. “He’s an All-Star for a reason. I think he just looks so strong and a lot more confident. When you play with a lot of confidence, it’s deadly.”
“He played like a captain should,” said McLellan. “He put us on his back and led the team. He played in all situations.”
For the third straight game at home, the Sharks found their groove in the second period and took control of the contest.
“It was just a matter of time before we got going,” said Joe Thornton
For the second home consecutive game, the Sharks were outshot, but it made no difference and Evgeni Nabokov held the fort until the offense got underway.
“I think it’s a sign for a good team when it doesn’t matter what happens,” said Nabokov.
Still Team Teal would like to fix the slow starts in the first period.
“In the first period we didn’t’ establish our forecheck,” said Mike Grier. “(In the second) we were a little more aggressive down the ice and let their goalie handle the puck.”
“I didn’t like that their top line had 19 shots on goal,” said McLellan. “We have to shore that up.”
With the Sharks playing so well in each second period at home, McLellan was asked about his motivational speeches.
“If I was that good, I would say it before the game,” said McLellan.
The Sharks bench boss is not worried about his club becoming overconfident with the early undefeated record.
“We have a group of professionals and most have been in the league a while,” said McLellan. “They know you can’t take days off. A whole lot of teams will have four-game winnings streaks. Ours just happens to be at the start of the season.”
The Sharks used some physical play to get the contest going in the right direction.
“There was a lot of hitting,” said Nabokov. “It was a pretty physical game and the guys weren’t afraid to give it to them. I think it’s a sign of a good team when it doesn’t matter what happens.”
The Sharks used their physical play to get their emotions going.
“I thought Jody Shelley and Mike Grier turned the tide,” said McLellan.
“We were letting them dictate the play and we knew they would try and be physical,” said Shelley.
Late in the third when Jeremy Roenick was rammed into the boards, new blueliner Brad Lukowich stepped in and giant scrum ensued.
“That stuff you learn early on,” said Shelley. “It’s instinct when you see a character guy like J.R. react like that.”
San Jose has three Czech players on the roster and one has scored in each of the past three games. It was Tomas Plihal at home against Los Angles and Lukas Kaspar on the road against the Kings. Milan Michalek joined the parade on Wednesday.
The loss dropped Columbus to 1-14 all-time at HP Pavilion.
HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER
In addition to the purple ties being worn by the Sharks coaches, broadcasters and executives, several children with cancer, and some in remission, were brought to the game and were introduced to Shelley and Nabokov for conversation, photos and autographs. This was the finale on an evening where fundraising efforts went toward helping find a cure against cancer.
“That is one of the nicest parts of our jobs,” said Shelley. “These fans are going through things we haven’t experienced and it’s great if we can give them a smile for a little bit. I’m proud to be part of that.”
COLUMBUS HEAD COACH KEN HITCHCOCK
“We turned it over too many times below the goal line today. We had the game right where we wanted it. We were playing great, we made those mistakes below the goal line and they came back and haunted us.”
“I think it’s our own end. I think we aren’t good enough with the puck in our own end. We’re competing, we’re creating all kinds of scoring chances, but we’re not good enough in our own end with the puck. It’s communication between the defenseman and the goaltender.”
San Jose will visit Anaheim on Friday at 7 p.m. and the contest will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.