Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Marleau and Couture lead Sharks past Oilers 6-3

EDMONTON, Alberta — The San Jose Sharks’ top line is already peaking just two games into the NHL’s lockout-delayed season.

Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist and Joe Thornton had three assists as the Sharks won their second in a row, beating Edmonton 6-3 on Tuesday night to spoil the Oilers’ home opener.

Logan Couture also had two goals and an assist, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle scored the other goals for the Sharks (2-0-0) who led 6-1 before the end of the first period.

“It’s only two games, but we’ve had a couple of nice wins and put some points in the bank which is important in a season like this,” said Marleau, who now has four goals and an assist in two games this season. “My linemates have been playing this year, so it’s been up to me to try and play catch-up with them.”

Thornton, who now has five assists, believes it is important to get off to a good start in a shortened season.

“We started off the season against two teams having their home-openers, which can be tough,” he said. “It’s not easy battling teams with emotions so high for those games but we handled it pretty well in Calgary and had a great first period to take the fans out of it in Edmonton tonight.”

Joe Pavelski, the third member of the Sharks top unit, picked up two assists for the second straight game.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan was happy to see his team get off to a much better start than they did in their first game, an eventual 4-1 win at Calgary.

“We talked about having a good start,” he said. “Our start in Calgary was ugly. We were obviously much better here.”

Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz scored for the Oilers (1-1-0).

San Jose struck first on a two-man advantage just 3 minutes into the game as Pavelski fed it to Boyle at the top of the circle and his blast got past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk.

It was 2-0 just more than a minute later as the Sharks again capitalized on the power play, this time on Couture’s wrist shot that fooled Dubnyk.

Edmonton responded on a power play of its own 8½ minutes into the opening period as Sam Gagner passed the puck through the goalmouth to a hard-charging Yakupov, who put the puck in the net before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi could get across the crease.

It was the first NHL goal for Yakupov, who was drafted first overall in last summer’s 2012 Entry Draft by the Oilers.

San Jose quickly restored its two-goal lead halfway through the first as Thornton’s no-look pass from behind the net found Marleau, who sent home his third goal of the season.

Just over a minute later it was 4-1 as Marleau scored high to the glove side on a quick shot from the slot on another power play with Thornton picking up his third assist of the game.

Couture scored his second of the game on a rebound with just under 2 minutes left and Vlasic scored on a screened point shot with 40 seconds remaining in the first to make it 6-1.

San Jose out-shot Edmonton 17-7 in the first.

“That was as bad a first period as we could have had, even in your worst imagination,” Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. “If pain is going to make us a better team, that was a lot of pain right there.

“It was just a complete meltdown through every single player. Sometimes it is better to lose like this than by one goal.”

Oilers forward Sam Gagner said there was no excuse for his team’s poor start in the game.

“Obviously the fans were so into it to start and it got us all excited and you let your emotions take hold and don’t think about the system we’re playing,” he said. “We got caught running around a bit. In the second and third we settled in, but it was too late.”

Backup goalie Yann Danis started the second in the Oilers’ net.

Edmonton got a goal back on a two-man advantage of its own with five minutes left in the second as Schultz, a player the Oilers acquired as a free agent after a league-wide bidding war last summer, scored his first NHL goal to make it 6-2.

The Sharks’ shots advantage closed to 26-24 after the second period.

Edmonton cut the lead in half 3½ minutes into the third as Hall sent a quick wrist shot while double-teamed that beat Niemi high to the glove side.

Notes: The Oilers came into the game 3-0 in home-openers against the Sharks, winning in 1993, 2003 and 2008. They were also 19-8-5 in their first home game of the season all-time. … It was the first of three meetings between the two teams this season, having split the four-game series last year, with each game decided by one goal. The Sharks entered the contest having won 11 of the last 15 meetings against Edmonton overall. … Free agent forward Scott Gomez continues to skate with the Sharks but no contract had been signed with San Jose as of game time. Gomez, who posted just two goals and nine assists in 38 games with Montreal last season, was bought out by the Canadiens last week.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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