HP PAVILION — In their long-delayed home opener, the Sharks scored four straight goals to come back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3.
Despite the hiatus created by the lockout, Sharks fans got their money’s worth in the first game played at the tank in nine months.
Patrick Marleau continues to score at a torrid pace, knocking home a pair of goals and has six in three games played. Captain Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists and has racked up nine points. Goalie Antti Niemi made 32 saves for the 3-0 Sharks.
Captain Thornton was also Captain Obvious when asked about the 3-0 start:
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Captain Joe Thornton
“Well it’s a good start, it’s better than being 0-3. We’ve got a lot of things to work on but it’s going pretty well right now. You want to be consistent but it’s still early on. It’s still a work in progress and we still got a lot of improving to do.”
Tied 3-3 with 1:53 left in the third period, Marleau skated ahead and took a perfect pass from Joe Pavelski then quickly got the puck from his backhand to his forehand. His wrist shot beat goalie Jason LaBarbera to give the Sharks the lead for good.
Thornton said of Marleau’s second goal:
“The last goal he scored was just a pure goal-scorer’s goal. He just picked the spot and he’s seeing the net really good and you’ve got to ride him when he’s this hot.”
Thornton finished with a power play goal scored on the Coyotes’ empty net to ice the game.
In three games, the Sharks have scored a total of 15 goals. Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said it’s a good start, but:
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan
“We’ll see where it’s all said and done when we get into games 10 and 15 and everybody’s banged up and the fatigue factor. We’ve been able to come from behind in two of the three games, Calgary and here so those are good signs as well.”
The Sharks came out on fire, outshooting Phoenix 13-3 in the game’s first ten minutes. During that time, San Jose had a 5-on-3 power play but were not able to light the lamp.
San Jose took advantage late in the first period after the Coyotes’ Derek Morris took a penalty for cross checking Justin Braun into the boards.
Off the faceoff, Joe Pavelski ripped a shot just inside the point. Logan Couture — with his back facing the net near the crease — redirected the puck beating LaBarbera.
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Center Logan Couture
The Sharks had to kill off a four minute minor when T.J. Galliardi was penalized for high-sticking, a double minor since a Phoenix player was cut.
Shortly after, it was Andrew Desjardins joining his teammate in the sin bin for clipping Morris in the forehead with his stick.
After a few big saves by Antti Niemi, it was Steve Sullivan’s wrister near the left goal line that beat Antti Niemi on the blocker side low.
To open the third period, the Sharks had a golden opportunity when Sullivan was penalized for interference on TJ Galliardi, and two more minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But Phoenix on a shorthanded chance by Lauri Korpikoski was skating in on a breakaway. Joe Thornton tried to stop him but in the process was whistled for hooking, negating the man advantage.
On a broken play, the Coyotes took the lead. The first was a delayed shot off Justin Braun. Then a harmless looking shot made its way past Niemi’s glove side. But replays showed that Niemi was interfered with and pushed back into the net.
Post-Game Audio: Coyotes Forward Zbynek Michalek
Phoenix then took a two goal lead when the wrist shot from the left circle by Korpikoski just went inside the left post and trickled past Niemi.
Down 3-1, Joe Thornton with a nice centering pass to Patrick Marleau who shot at a wide open net for his fifth goal of the season. On that play, rookie Matthew Irwin was given the second assist for his first career NHL point.
Post-Game Audio: Sharks Forward Patrick Marleau
The Sharks tied the game with 6:54 remaining. Martin Havlat tipped in the rebound off a shot from the top of the left circle by Ryane Clowe.
The Sharks continue the six-game homestand with a matinée against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at 1 p.m.
After the game, Couture praised the offense:
We scored five goals tonight, we scored six the other night and four the first game so we’re scoring goals. …Offensively we’re playing well. A good character win tonight. You get down two goals there in the third period, fight back and find a way to win.”
The Sharks had a video tribute for original owner George Gund III who died earlier this month from cancer. … F Scott Gomez, signed to a one-year deal by the Sharks did not dress. Coach McClellan will decide whether or not to play him over the weekend when the Sharks host the Avalanche and the Canucks.
Post-Game Audio: Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett