SAP CENTER — If Tuesday’s Sharks-Maple Leafs rumble had morphed into a TV drama, it would have been called “The Tommy Wingels Show.”
And it would have contained more brawl sequences than an episode of “Sons of Anarchy.”
The vibe at the Tank Tuesday night was anything but friendly after an attempt by Wingels nine minutes into the tilt was poorly ruled a “no goal” by the officials, evoking extra chippiness on the ice and “ref, you suck!” chants from the SAP Center crowd.
But Wingels would earn redemption and Joe Pavelski would bury two for the night in the Sharks’ 6-2 massacre of the Leafs, capping off their four game homestand and coming within two points of the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division standings.
The win was made more interesting for the fights it contained, given that the Sharks aren’t much of a glove-dropping team. But head coach Todd McLellan explained:
“We have that ability (to fight). Guys take are of each other and when we have to do it, we do it. The game at 6-2, gets a little bit chippy.”
It probably didn’t hurt that the Leafs were going into Tuesday’s bout at the tail end for a back-to-back after a long night against Anaheim. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who contributed heavily to the Sharks win, credited taking advantage of the tired opponent:
“We were all over them, all game. We didn’t give them much. They played last night and we wanted to jump all over them.”
Vlasic put San Jose on the board first with a beautiful slapshot that went between Toronto goaltender James Reimer’s legs. Matt Nieto notched an assist as the Sharks took the early 1-0 lead.
But not 25 seconds later, Toronto tied it up on the odd man rush when Jake Gardiner beat Antti Niemi with a tip in at 4:23 in the stanza.
Following the disallowed goal by Wingels, Mike Brown dropped his gloves and took the Sharks’ scoring frustrations out on winger Troy Bodie’s face. Both skaters were sent to the box with fighting majors.
The Sharks used the fight as fuel, and kept the puck in Toronto territory. The puck got loose on a Joe Thornton rebound in front of the Leafs’ net and Brent Burns fired it through traffic, missing Reimer’s block up high.
The officials debated and almost didn’t count the attempt, inviting loud jeers from the crowd. But after a minute of discussion, they awarded the goal to Burns, giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
Thornton, who tallied the assist on the almost-disallowed Burns goal, described what he saw out on the ice:
“I didn’t really see (Wingels goal) but the second one I knew went in. It just went in so fast, (the ref) just didn’t know if it went in. (Smiles) But I knew it when in, so that’s that.”
Wingels got his redemption goal in the second stanza. After nailing center Peter Holland into the boards, he got his tape on a Justin Braun shot and deflected the puck past Reimer to increase the Sharks lead 3-1.
Pavelski added to San Jose’s offensive push with a shot in the paint to put the home team up 4-1 before the period was over.
The Sharks’ domination was evident in shots on goal, with San Jose up on Toronto 31-12 after 40 minutes of play.
In the third period, Jason Demers passed the puck up from the blue line to an awaiting Pavelski, who wristed in his second goal of the evening to build the Sharks lead up 5-1.
Toronto got a shorthanded goal with 5:04 left in regulation to close the score to 5-2. But the Sharks answered back when Marty Havlat toppled over himself to score the nail-in-the-coffin goal, giving the Sharks a 6-2 lead. Wingels pitched in as a helper.
The goal was followed, however, by both Havlat and Wingels dropping their gloves.
A goal, an assist, and a scrum all in one game? When asked afterwards if it was the first time that he had achieved the Gordie Howe hat trick, Wingels just shrugged:
“I don’t like to fight much. So, yeah, it probably is.”
The Sharks will try to take some of that fighting spirit on the road as they travel east to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, march 13. They return to San Jose Tuesday to host the Florida Panthers. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks finished with 48 shots on the night. They have recorded 48+ shots seven times this season… The Sharks have scored 6 goals or more six times this season… Andrew Desjardins played in his 200th career game… Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his 5th goal of the season on an assist from Matt Nieto… Brent Burns captured his 18th goal of the season. His 18 goals are a career high (17, 2010-11)…Joe Thornton claimed sole possession of 47th place on the all-time NHL scoring list with his assist on the Brent Burns goal… Tommy Wingels scored his 15th goal of the season and is on a 3-game point streak. He is now tied for 5th place among Sharks goal scorers this season. Joe Pavelski scored his team-leading 33rd & 34th goals of the season on top of his assist on the Burns goal. He has had five games in which he has registered at least 3 points this season. Pavelski also registered his 400th career point on the first of his two goals… Marty Havlat notched his 6th goal of the season.