SAN JOSE – It took five extra minutes, a shootout and one of hockey’s greatest goal scorers hitting the crossbar, but the San Jose Sharks moved to 6-0 for the first time in franchise history.
The Sharks (6-0) escaped the jaws of defeat Tuesday night with a late third period goal by Logan Couture before pulling out a 3-2 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks (3-1-1) at HP Pavilion.
“We didn’t play well,” Couture said. “The first two periods we weren’t very good. We didn’t play enough in our end, didn’t break out clean, the list goes on. An ugly win, but we’ll take it in this season.”
The Sharks played lackluster hockey for the majority of the game’s first 60 minutes, registering only 17 shots on the goal in regulation. But with less than three minutes to play, Couture tossed a shot toward the net from the top of the circle and it squeaked past Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.
“I just threw it at the net,” said Couture of his fourth goal of the season. “We didn’t shoot the puck enough on net tonight, so I wanted to get pucks in and I was able to find a hole.”
Newly acquired center Scott Gomez picked up his first Sharks point by pushing the puck up to Couture on the rush. Ryane Clowe also earned his fourth point of the season on the play.
“When you’ve got a kid like that who can put the puck in the net, it really wasn’t much. I just gave it to him and he did the rest,” Gomez said.
After a scoreless overtime, Michal Handzus opened the shootout by beating Hiller low on his glove side and the goal was all the Sharks would need to snatch two points. Antii Niemi turned away Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry before Teemu Selanne flipped one off the crossbar after beating the Sharks goaltender with a deke move.
Niemi kept the Sharks in the game after surrendering goals to Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey 59 seconds apart midway through second period, allowing the Ducks to jump ahead 2-1. The netminder finished the game with 28 saves, including a quick-reflexed pad stop that stoned Perry in overtime
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with his third goal in the first period after receiving the puck on the tape on a long pass from Joe Thornton. Patrick Marleau also picked up an assist on the play and he and Thornton continue to lead the NHL in scoring with 14 points on the season.
Defenseman Dan Boyle missed the game because of a cold and his absence may have impacted the Sharks transition game. But Head Coach Todd McLellan said the blame should fall on the entire team.
“Boyle, [Brent] Burns and [Jason] Demers are all very good puck-moving offensive-type of defensemen. But I’m not going to put it on the six D who played,” McLellan said, adding: “The forwards play a role in that, as well. Overall, we’ll take the lack of execution as a group.”
But the Sharks executed on the penalty kill, once again, thwarting all four of the Ducks power play opportunities. The Sharks have now killed 13 straight penalties after allowing five goals in their first 14 tries.
“We’re aggressive at the right spots,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “Everyone’s willing to block shots, we have good sticks and guys are on the same page.”
Despite the win, McLellan said his team will need to pick things up in practice on Wednesday, so the lethargy doesn’t carry over to Thursday’s game at the Shark Tank against the Edmonton Oilers.
“Jacques Lemaire, who I admire obviously as a coach, used to say, ‘your game starts to get sick before you lose’,” he said. “And we’d like to stop the sniffles right now.”