Sharks overpower Oilers to open 2014

SAP CENTER — After ending 2013 with a nasty loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks needed to kick off the new year with offensive domination, and a win to go with it.

They did just that Thursday night, packing enough firepower to drown the visiting Edmonton Oilers 5-1.

Captain Joe Thornton explained how good the win felt, especially after the rough loss to the Ducks:

“We’re a team where, when you lose one and want to get the next one, I think we proved that tonight. We have a lot of good character players in this room… We didn’t feel like we worked as hard as we should have in Anaheim, and we got back to it tonight.”

The tilt started off quiet, with both teams scoreless and San Jose not making much noise on two power play attempts.

Then,with chaos in front of Edmonton’s net, Joe Pavelski fed the puck to Brent Burns for a slap shot past Devan Dubnyk (28 saves).

The netminder fell forward and missed the shot completely as the Sharks got on the board and took a 1-0 lead. Joe Thornton also notched an assist.

Just 43 seconds later, Patrick Marleau rocketed a clean unassisted shot through traffic from between the faceoff circles to put the home team on top 2-0 with 4:15 left in the opening frame.

Bracken Kearns continued to build on his goal-scoring streak with a shot between Dubnuk’s legs to put widen San Jose’s lead 3-0.

After waiting 32 years for that first NHL goal last weekend against Anaheim, Kearns appreciated his third goal in three games:

“Another lucky one and I’ll take it. Try to keep it going … They talked about a quick release against this goalie, and that’s what I tried to do there. And that one found the back of the net.”

On the next shift, John McCarthy fed the puck to Couture for a clean breakaway up the middle of Edmonton’s zone. Couture lined the puck top shelf and Dubnyk watched as it floated past his glove as the Sharks’ lead grew to 4-0.

After Antti Niemi made a block off his leg, Nail Yakupov got possession of the rebound and launched it off the pipe and into San Jose’s net. Sam Gagnier and Jordan Ederle tallied assists as Edmonton got on the board 4-1.

Head coach Todd McLellan remarked on the one goal that his team allowed Thursday night:

“I thought we were good until it was 4-0 and then we got sloppy. We’ve got to get that out of our game.”

Not content with the three-goal lead, Pavelski slapped a one-timer high above Dubnyk and into the back of Edmonton’s net. The crowd erupted into “USA!!!” chants as the Sharks’ Olympic representative sealed the 5-1 advantage. Thornton and Matt Irwin tallied assists.

No. 8’s reaction to the frenzy of cheers from the crowd? He smiled and shrugged:

“It’s cool. It’s an exciting time with the Olympics coming up. … It’s more of a country thing.”

The Sharks head out on a three-game road trip to Colorado, Chicago and Nashville before returning to the Tank Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Notes

Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski extended their point-streaks to six straight games. … Both Logan Couture and Bracken Kearns now have goals in three straight games. … Patrick Marleau scored his 422nd career goal Thursday night, tying him for 73rd on the all-time goals list with former Sharks teammate Owen Nolan. …With Thursday night’s goal, Brent Burns now has eight points in his last five games. He also registered a game-high six shots on net, with five of those coming in the first period.


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