SAN JOSE – They finally got around to installing the new signage in front of the main entrance at the Sharks’ home arena, which was officially rebranded as the SAP Center over the summer. Five games into the season, that might as well be an acronym for Sharks Are Perfect.
In their first real dogfight, the Sharks used a tiebreaking goal from Brent Burns in the third period to beat the Senators on Saturday night, 3-2. Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau also scored, while Hertl had to leave the game late in the second period after a possible head hit on a clean check from Ottawa’s Clarke MacArthur.
While the rookie’s status is concerning, the Sharks were pleased with the outcome against a Senators team that gave them some real in-game adversity for the first time. Ottawa fought back from an early hole thanks to Hertl’s goal in the opening minute, and controlled the pace of play for the latter half of the first period and most of the second.
Marleau said: “We found ourselves down after a period, and it was a good challenge for us tonight. We made a couple mistakes, and they are a good enough team to make us pay for them.”
“I didn’t think we were as sharp in this game as we were in some of the others, and give them credit. They did some good things,” Todd McLellan said. “I also thought we started well and then played the middle of the game poorly, sloppily, and tried to get a little too cute. Then, got back to the way we needed to for the third period.”
Their first power play came at the perfect time for the Sharks, when Milan Michalek was nailed for a tripping minor at 15:10 of the second period. Marleau’s fourth goal in five games a minute and two seconds later tied the game at 2-2.
Marleau is the only Sharks player to record at least a point in each of the five games (4g, 1a). It’s the second straight season he's gotten off to a hot start, after he started the shortened 2013 campaign with four straight two-goal games.
“It’s going pretty good right now,” Marleau said. “There’s still a lot of little things that I’d like to get doing better, and hopefully that will lead to some more scoring chances. But, getting to play with Logan [Couture] and [Tyler Kennedy] and getting some chemistry, it’s coming.”
The Sharks took over the game in the third period, outshooting the Senators an incredible 24-5 over the final 20 minutes. San Jose outshot Ottawa for the game 50-23, the second time it’s hit the 50-shot mark this season.
Burns got wide open in front of the net, and forcfully slammed home his third goal at 7:08 of the final frame, on a feed from Thornton.
“I didn't have to do much, but I wasn't going to miss,” Burns said.
Thornton said: “I heard [Burns] as soon as I got the puck. It was just kind of, throw it in an area, and he beat his defenseman back to the net and he buried it.”
The goal came with rookie Matt Nieto taking Hertl’s place on that line. Nieto recorded the secondary assist on Burns’ goal, rimming the puck to Thornton behind the net.
“I thought I adjusted pretty quickly,” Nieto said. “They were really supportive and made me feel loose. It was great to play with those two.”
The Sharks are one of three NHL teams still without a regulation loss. Colorado (5-0-0) and St. Louis (4-0-0) are the others, and both won on Saturday night. The Sharks and Blues play on Tuesday at Scottrade Center.
The Sharks registered 50 shots or more for the 10th time in franchise history, including Oct. 5 vs Phoenix when they had 51. Nine of those have come under McLellan. … Hertl is tied with two other players for second in the league in scoring with eight points. … Dan Boyle led all skaters with nine shots, tying a career high. Marleau had eight shots, and Matt Irwin seven.