Sharks hit winning stride before Olympics

SAP CENTER — In his franchise-record 435th game behind the San Jose Sharks’ bench Friday night, head coach Todd McLellan was going to have extra attention on him no matter how Team Teal performed.

Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay

Though when asked about it post-game, McLellan shrugged and said he honestly didn’t want any spotlight pointed in his direction:

“For it me, it’s almost like (being) a teacher. I don’t think the teacher ever goes home and is real with their performance. They’re always satisfied with the classroom’s performance.”

The “classroom” celebrated McLellan’s milestone with a win, as the Sharks held on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in their final contest before the Olympic break.

McLellan continued:

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s nice to stand behind their and see guys execute and play the way they need to play. Play for each other. That’s where the satisfaction comes from.”

There was also satisfaction in getting the win before the league goes on a three-week hiatus. Patrick Marleau, one of four Sharks players head to Sochi and not getting any time off, said of the win:

“It makes the break that much more enjoyable… Hopefully the guys feel good and get some rest and are ready to go at it again.”

James Sheppard’s shot from the right faceoff circle deflected off John McCarthy’s stick right in front of the crease, and the puck tipped high and fast over Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder, giving the Sharks took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.

The goal happened so fast it was almost unintentional, McCarthy said afterwards:

“It was one of those goals where I didn’t even mean to tip it. It just hit me and went in. Type of goals you like to get.”

Bobrovsky (44 saves) tried to get back on his game by defending a Brent Burns slap shot. But the puck rebounded back to Scott Hannan who lined a slapshot through traffic. Patrick Marleau tipped it past the Blue Jackets netminder to give San Jose the 2-0 advantage.

Columbus got on the board 18 seconds into the second period when Ryan Johansen took advantage of a bad defensive zone turnover and charged the net alone, closing the score gap 2-1.

San Jose struggled to find another point in the second stanza, even with four power play attempts. Luckily the Blue Jackets only had eight shots on net that period, and Antti Niemi (19 saves) was present to stop all of them.

The Sharks capitalized in the third when Jason Demers shot the puck just into the crease and Tommy Wingels backhanded it in.

He fell in the process of making the shot, but it was enough to get the jump on Bobrovsky. Marc-Edouard Vlasic also notched an assist as the Sharks added to their lead 3-1.

Boone Jenner answered later in the period when he got a hold of a turnover by Demers in San Jose’s defensive zone and, with a shot up close, lined the puck between Niemi’s legs to close the Sharks lead to 3-2.

But the San Jose kept the opposition from tying the contest up, and skated into the break with a win.

Next on the agenda — at least for the members of the team not headed over to Sochi?  Joe Thornton said:

“The guys will enjoy their break. And then come back ready for work for the second half.”

The Sharks start off on the road following the Olympics starting in Philadelphia with a rematch against the Flyers. Their next home game will be Tuesday, March 4 hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Notes

Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan surpassed Darryl Sutter for the most games coached in franchise history. McLellan already stands as the winningest coach in Sharks history, picking up his 257th win tonight … John McCarthy scored his first goal of the season. It is his first NHL goal since Nov. 6, 2010 (vs. Tampa Bay) … Patrick Marleau scored his 23rd goal of the season. He is currently tied for 17th in the NHL in goals … Tommy Wingels scored a goal to extend his point streak to three games.


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