SAN JOSE – Goals from Scott Hannan and Tyler Kennedy provided the Sharks just enough offense in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at SAP Center on Saturday night.
Both Sharks goals came in the first period.
Hannan made it 1-0 when his slap shot from the point deflected past Martin Brodeur at 4:25. The play began when Brent Burns steamrolled Adam Larsson behind the Devils’ net, and pushed the puck to Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ captain found Hannan alone at the point, where Hannan was able to wind up.
Kennedy’s third goal of the season increased the lead to 2-0. Marty Havlat’s skillful pass from behind the net found Kennedy’s tape, and Kennedy beat Brodeur to the far side at 14:47.
The Sharks have outscored the opposition 32-12 in first periods.
The Devils cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1 late on their only power play. Jason Demers went off on a hooking minor, and Patrik Elias’ shot from the circle sailed past Antti Niemi at 8:10. Steve Bernier appeared to screen Niemi on the play, which came with just one second left on Demers’ penalty.
The Devils had just three shots in the first period, but played much better in the final two frames. Niemi’s first difficult save came when he smothered a redirection by Dainius Zubrus about four minutes in to the frame, and later he gobbled up another redirection off of Andy Greene’s stick at 12:31.
Niemi’s best stop came with two and a half minutes left in regulation, when he make a right pad save on Travis Zajac from the slot. He denied Peter Harrold from the circle with half a minute left and Brodeur pulled for an extra attacker to preserve the win.
Burns, playing in his second game since an undisclosed upper body injury kept him out for a month, looked much more effective than against Tampa Bay on Thursday. Along with his efforts on Hannan’s goal, Burns drew a pair of minors on New Jersey with his aggressive play, including a hook on Greene late in the first and a trip on Marek Zidlicky midway through the second. The Sharks were unable to capitalize on either opportunity, though.
Late in the third, Brodeur was shaken up when a Burns shot from close range hit him in the back of the head. After a brief delay in which it took some time for Brodeur to get up off of the ice, he remained in the game only to skate off for an extra attacker after the ensuing faceoff.
The Sharks improved to 2-0-0 on their current five-game homestand. They are 5-1-1 in their last seven, and 7-1-1 against Eastern Conference teams.
New Jersey’s three-game winning streak, which included overtime victories in Anaheim and Los Angeles, was halted.
San Jose visits the Prudential Center on March 2.
The Sharks finished 0-for-3 with a man advantage, and have not scored a power play goal in their last three games.
San Jose has been shorthanded just once in each of its last three games.
Niemi picked up his 12th win with 18 saves. He’s now 3-1-0 in his career against New Jersey.
Brodeur took the loss with 28 saves on 30 shots. The Sharks remain one of just two teams that he has never shut out (Edmonton). The four-time Vezina Trophy winner had won six of his last seven games before Saturday night, and fell to 10-8-2 all-time against the Sharks.
Andrew Desjardins came out of the lineup for the first time, and the Sharks iced an effective fourth line of John McCarthy, James Sheppard and Mike Brown.
New Jersey’s Stephen Gionta suffered an ankle injury in the first period and did not return.
The Devils remain without an injured Ryane Clowe, as the former Sharks forward did not make the trip due to a concussion.
The Sharks are off until Wednesday, when they begin a stretch of three games in four days with the Los Angeles Kings. St. Louis visits for a Friday matinee, and Anaheim is in town on Saturday to close out San Jose’s homestand.