EDMONTON – For at least one night, the veteran San Jose Sharks showed the kids in Edmonton that they still have some work to if they want to contend.
Thanks to a six-goal first period, including two apiece from Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, the Sharks cruised to a 6-3 win in Edmonton’s home opener at Rexall Place on Tuesday night. The Sharks have won their first two games by a combined score of 10-4.
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For Marleau, it was his second consecutive two-goal game, and his four goals tie him with Chicago’s Marian Hossa and Anaheim’s Daniel Winnik for the league lead. Joe Thornton added three assists, as 10 different Sharks registered at least a point in the first 20 minutes.
It began with Dan Boyle’s goal on a two-man advantage, when his low blast beat goalie Devan Dubnyk to the far side at 3:17. Couture’s first goal of the year, just over a minute later and with the Sharks still on the power play, made it 2-0. It came on a quick and impressive wrist shot from the faceoff dot over Dubnyk’s shoulder on the near side.
Exciting rookie Nail Yakupov scored his first career goal on the power play to bring the crowd back into the game at 8:25, but it didn’t last long. Marleau’s goal midway through the period on a filthy backhanded feed from behind the net by Thornton gave the Sharks their two-goal lead back. They added to it on Marleau’s second of the night, on the power play at 11:07, while Couture made it 5-1 when he deposited the rebound of a Marty Havlat shot. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot found daylight with Michal Handzus setting the screen at 19:20, giving the Sharks a 6-1 lead after the first period.
Rookie Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall scored a goal in the second and third, respectively, but it was much too little and much too late to overcome San Jose’s dominant first.
If there’s one area of concern through the first two games for San Jose, it’s the penalty kill (stop us if you’ve heard this before). Yakupov’s goal came with Brad Stuart in the box on an interference penalty, when he converted a pass through the slot by Sam Gagner.
Schultz’s goal, his first career marker, in the second came on a two-man advantage with Vlasic and Boyle both off. The Sharks killed off more than a minute remaining on the Boyle penalty, though, to keep it a 6-2 game at the second intermission.
Leading 6-3, the Sharks did come up with a couple key kills to keep their lead a comfortable one. A tripping call on Matt Irwin midway through the third period and a Joe Pavelski delay-of-game penalty at 11:31 didn’t result in any damage, and Edmonton finished 2-for-5 on the night with a man advantage.
Three of the four goals against San Jose this season have come with the team shorthanded.
The Sharks were 3-for-5 on the power play, the second straight game they’ve scored multiple man-advantage goals, so they still won the special teams battle.
Dubnyk became the first goalie to give up six goals in a period to the Sharks (on 17 shots), and was replaced by Yann Danis to start the second. Veteran Nikolai Khabibulin remains out with a hip injury.
Antti Niemi recorded his second win in as many games with 26 saves.
James Sheppard made his long awaited return to NHL action, skating in his first game since a knee injury nearly ended his career in September, 2010. He took Frazer McLaren’s place on the fourth line wing and skated 8:10.
Former Sharks forward Ben Eager was an injured scratch for Edmonton.
They spoiled the home openers of both the Flames and the Oilers, and now the Sharks will defend their own ice for the first time on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion. It’s the beginning of a six-game homestand for San Jose, which will also host Colorado, Vancouver, Anaheim, Edmonton and Nashville. The Sharks’ next road game isn’t until Feb. 4 at Anaheim.