SAP CENTER — There was a hint of superstition in the air when the Sharks took the ice Thursday night in their black jerseys.
The first time the Sharks rocked the dark sweaters this season, they dropped a 4-2 battle at home to the Vancouver Canucks.
Bad juju would not prevail Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as San Jose started their longest homestand of the season on a high note.
Tommy Wingels notched two goals, Brent Burns scored in his return from injury and multiple Sharks had a multi-point game as the Sharks laid a 5-1 smackdown on the Atlantic Division visitors.
Captain Joe Thornton agreed it was a good way to start the homestand:
“We always love playing in front of our home crowd, and we feel like we have a huge advantage being at home. So to start it of with this win, you know with this win. They’re a really good team… To beat them like that is huge, and now we just have to get some confidence off that and just keep going.”
Head coach Todd McLellan was happy the team hadn’t been taxed by taking so many days off. The Sharks had, in fact, taken two days off following the end of the long road trip.
But after the victory, McLellan was happy the team had taken a breather:
“Now that we’ve won, I’m glad that we took those days off. I still think there were a few guys who didn’t have real good legs because of it. But, we made it through the night, and they’ll be better tomorrow. And hopefully by the time the New Jersey game rolls around everyone will be real fresh and ready to go.”
A strong shift by the Sharks’ second line put them on the board 1-0 in the opening period. Logan Couture fed the puck to Wingels whose wrist shot it high over backup goalie Anders Lindback’s shoulder for his sixth goal of the season. Marleau also tallied an assist on the goal.
Brad Stuart widened the Sharks lead to 2-0 with 1:57 left in the first stanza with a clean slapshot from the top circle that completely eluded Lindback’s block. Couture registered his second assist of the night on the goal.
On his second goal of the night, Wingels got the puck on the feed from Marleau behind Tampa’s net, and the puck bounced past Lindback in such a way that everyone paused in front of the net for a moment, unsure if it was a goal. Despite being outshot 12-9, the Sharks exited the second period with a 3-0 lead.
When asked about his two-goal night, Wingels remained humble:
“It’s fun scoring goals in this league. Patty and Logan on both of those plays made great passes, I happened to be the beneficiary.”
Burns made his comeback to the ice memorable when he tipped in a shot from Joe Thornton to make San Jose’s lead 4-0.
Not 19 seconds later, Marleau — not showing any signs of stiffness from the car accident he was in on Tuesday — scored with help from Couture and Justin Braun to build up the lead 5-0.
Tyler Johnson put the Lightning on the board with a wrist shot just past Antti Niemi’s block to make the score 5-1. But it would be their only goal, as Niemi turned away 36 of 37 Tampa Bay shots on the night.
The San Jose Sharks continue their homestand Saturday, November 23 against the New Jersey Devils. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
With Thursday’s win, the Sharks advanced to 6-1-2 at SAP Center this season. … Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels and Justin Braun all had multi-point nights, … Tommy Wingels had his first career multi-point game. … Logan Couture set a career high for most assists (3) in a game… Antti Niemi had 36 saves, his second highest save total of the season. (Highest: 42 saves against Winnipeg 11/10/13). … Logan Couture led the team with six shots on net.