The Shark tank was rockin’ by the end of the game after captain Joe lead the team to a 5-3 victory after scoring the empty net goal that sealed the deal. Included in his 4-point night were 3 assists, a couple more of those going towards more goals for Marleau. Thornton now leads the league early in the season with 9 points in his first 3 games. Right behind him with 8 points is Patrick Marleau who scored 2 more goals this evening to bring his season tally up to 6 already. Logan Couture also added a goal and an assist to continue his hot start to the season and has 7 points to start the season.
Rookie Matt Irwin tallied his first career NHL point on a key goal in the third period which helped start the San Jose comeback that eventually turned into 4 unanswered goals. He played another strong game even with his minutes taken down a notch. In fact, the only Sharks player who played more than 20 minutes was Dan Boyle who ended up with 26 minutes played. I’d definitely like to see that number drop this coming Saturday and Sunday so as not to wear him out too much so early in the season.
San Jose came out strong, as expected because of the home opener, and was given an early 5 on 3 opportunity in the first period but could not capitalize. They were strong throughout the period and by the midway point had an 11-1 shot advantage. It took until the last minute of the period for San Jose to finally capitalize with a goal by Couture off of a deflection on the power play.
The second period was a whole different story with the Coyotes outshooting the Sharks 13-2. This was aided by the fact that Phoenix got their own 5 on 3 opportunity and was able to take advantage of it with a goal by Steve Sullivan. The Coyotes dominated possession and stymied any Sharks offense that came into their zone but even with 13 shots were only able to muster 2 scoring chances in the period.
In the third period it looked as if the Coyotes were going to take the win as they continued their dominance early and added two goals; one each by Antoine Vermette and Lauri Korpikoski giving them a 3-1 lead with 12 minutes left in the game. After that though, it was ALL San Jose.
In those final 12 minutes the boys in teal proceeded to score four goals, two by Marleau, one by Thornton and one by Martin Havlat, to take the win at home. It looked like perhaps the Coyotes’ legs got the best of them near the end of the game due to the back-to-back games and taking into account the Sharks played a physical game by banging the body all game long. One shift in particular stood out when Ryane Clowe had 3 hits near the end of the second period to try and spark his teammates.
All in all it was a great win, not only for the Sharks, but for the home crowd who was happy to have the team back home and at ‘The Tank’. San Jose will face two more tough games ahead on Saturday and Sunday, both at home, in what will be a true test early of how the team will handle the compressed schedule.
My 3 Stars of the Game
1. Joe Thornton (1 goal, 3 assists)
2. Patrick Marleau (2 goals, 1 assist)
3. Logan Couture (1 goal, 1 assist)