San Jose topped Pacific Division rival Los Angeles for the second consecutive game, routing the Kings 4-1. Patrick Marleau
lead the parade, posting two goals and an assist, but it was also a big night for Mark Smith who had two helpers, including a blind pass to Marleau that set up the first tally.
“I think he took two guys to him and set it up nice,” said Marleau.
With San Jose dressing eleven forwards, it has allowed Sharks bench boss Ron Wilson the ability play Marleau and Joe Thornton
a little more, and provide players like Smith a chance to skate with the top centers.
“Getting a little ice time with Patty or Joe never hurts,” said Smith. “All year we’ve had the green light if we had the chance on offense, and with Patty and Joe, the chances come more often.”
“I’m trying to give Joe and Patty extra ice time and it give the guys on the other line some excitement,” said Ron Wilson. “Smitty was really focused and is getting the job done. Now maybe TSN will show highlights of his hockey exploits and not his band.”
(Smith played at the Sofa Lounge in downtown San Jose Sunday evening and TSN was there to film it.)
Smith had two breakaways in the game, but couldn’t connect on either opportunity.
“Unfortunately I was hauling a piano on my back,” laughed Smith. “Missing two breakaways like that can’t happen.”
He has now surpassed his career high in total points (5-12=17). His previous career high was set in 2002-2003 with 15 total points.
The game winning goal came from the stick of Nils Ekman as he scored the first of two power play goals for Team Teal.
“I just wanted to take the blue line and set up the power play, but they kept backing off because other players were flying down both sides,” said Ekman.
5 MINUTE MAJOR
San Jose controlled the game throughout, but that could have easily changed when Los Angeles was awarded a five minute power play in the third on a call that went against Joe Thornton
. It was the Sharks who were the most offensive though, limiting the Kings to one shot, while Smith had one of his breakaways on the other end.
“It was a good kill to get,” said Smith. “If they get just one goal, they are within one and still on the power play. We’ll kill that one for Joe anytime.”
The five minute kill was key, but San Jose played strong defensively all game.
“We played well for 60 minutes,” said Kyle McLaren. “We started strong and kept right on going.”
San Jose knew that Los Angeles was playing their third game in four nights, including one last night in L.A.
“We wanted to come out and get the first goal and get our legs working,” said Marleau, who scored the opening tally. “It is tough to play from behind. We know we can do it, but we don’t want it to become a habit.”
The proximity of the last game between the two clubs led to one fight and several skirmishes.
“Things got a little heated at the end of the second, but for the most part, we kept our emotions in check,” said McLaren.
Los Angeles had a tougher time with their emotions, providing San Jose three more power plays in the contest.
“They are one of the most penalized teams in the league,” said Ron Wilson. “They play with a hard edge and we expected some power plays.
12 IN A ROW
With his assist on Milan Michalek’s goal, Jonathan Cheechoo tied the Sharks record with points in 12 consecutive games. He now shares the mark with Rob Gaudreau who set the mark from Dec. 3-29 back in 1992.
The Sharks are 14-0-0 when scoring the first two goals in the game this season and have gained at least one point in 12 out of the last 13 games on home ice (10-1-2). They have outscored their opponents 51-30 in the process.