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Sharks pass important test
SJ extends season opening streak
1/27/13 - By Mike Lee -

The Vancouver Canucks were supposed to serve as a barometer for the Sharks on Sunday night. Having won their first four games to start the 2012-13 NHL regular season, San Jose had only demonstrated that they were tough against mid and low level teams. Perhaps Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Canucks will convert some doubters into believers. The Sharks made the most of their opportunities and buckled down defensively to take their 5th straight victory.

Playing on back-to-back nights for the first time this season, one big question entering the match-up was how San Jose would react with minimal rest. Vancouver didn't play on Saturday, which gave them a distinct advantage. That proved to matter little.

San Jose wasn't intimidated by the Canucks, as was evident even before the opening faceoff. Ryane Clowe and Alex Burrows started jawing with each other as both teams readied themselves for the start of the game. Both earned unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, resulting in a 4-on-4 situation to start the game.

The infraction was one of eight penalties that Clowe would incur on the night, helping him to tie Link Gaetz for most penalties in franchise history for a single contest. His 35 combined penalty minutes fell short of Jody Shelley's record of 41 for that franchise mark.

The Sharks used to open ice to open the game to bag a goal just 43 seconds into the game. Joe Thornton stepped in front of a Jason Garrison clearing attempt and swept home his 3rd goal of the season . Dan Boyle Put unloaded on Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.

Joe Pavleski took advantage of a horrific turnover by Alex Edler less than three minutes later to stake San Jose to a 2-0 lead. The Sharks had dumped the puck into the Vancouver zone, when Edler easily collected the puck and tried to send a pass up the slot to a teammate at the blueline. Pavelski stepped in front of Edler's pass and immediately snapped a 12-foot wrist shot past Schneider for his 1st goal of the season.

"We knew there was a lot at stake," said Pavelski. "They were really solid in Anaheim the other day. We've been going and good and want to keep that going. It was awesome-- the intensity was there, I'd like to say right from the puck drop, but before that. We knew it was going to be that kind of game. We went through a stretch of the game when we weren't executing very well. We didn't want to get on the forecheck, we wanted to make the cute little simple neutral zone plays which don't always work. We finally figured it out a little bit. The PK was tremendous tonight too."

Canucks winger Zack Kassian tried to light a fire under his team by engaging Clowe in a spirited fight five minutes later.

Clowe took a holding the stick penalty at 17:52, which was followed by an interference penalty 1:52 later providing the Canucks with almost four consecutive minutes on the power play. The Sharks went unscathed on all seven Canuck power play chances throughout the game.

Janic Hansen got the Canucks on the board midway through the 2nd period on a deflection off Dan Boyle's skate. The Canucks raced the puck up the right wing when Hansen threw a shot on net from the right dot. Sharks netminder Antti Niemi turned the shot aside, but the puck hit Boyle and deflected right back over Niemi's right pad. Boyle had his back to the play as he tried steering Edler away from the Sharks goal.

A Maxim Lapierre interference penalty put the Sharks on the power play moments later, allowing Patrick Marleau to get is name on the score sheet. Marleau poked at a loose puck from outside the right post after Boyle sent a pass into a flurry of skates in front of Schneider.

Marleau fell short of a second goal, which would have set an NHL record for a player scoring two goals in five straight games to start a season. The goal was Marleau's 9th of the season however, which currently sits as the best mark in the league.

Another Canucks interference penalty proved just as costly in the 3rd period. The power play chance setup Pavelski's 2nd goal of the game, off a one-time chance from the right circle. Thornton setup the goal with his 10th assist of the season.

As it stands, Marleau, Thornton and Pavelski sit 1st, 2nd and 5th in the league in scoring.

"It was a good intense game," said Thornton. "The big thing was we wanted to have a better start than yesterday, so we did that. Special teams were huge and Neemo played great, but yeah, it was a different feel tonight."

Clowe earned his way to the top of the penalty minute leaderboard with the big block of sin bin time he racked up on Sunday.

Niemi's workload was light in the final 20 minutes of play. He faced a paltry 5 shots in the final period to earn his 100th career NHL victory. The win also marked Sharks head coach Todd McLellan's 200th victory as a bench boss. McLellan was the 2nd fastest to reach the mark. Bruce Beaudreau did it in 8 fewer games.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
VAN 0 1 1 1
SJ 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 3 (Vlasic, Stuart), 0:43. 2, SJ, Pavelski 1 (unassisted), 3:26.
2nd period - 3, VAN, Burrows 1 (Hansen), 11:05. 4, SJ, Marleau 9 (Boyle, Couture), 14:27, (pp).
3rd period - 5, SJ, Pavelski 2 (Thornton, Marleau), 8:14, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Burrows, VAN (unsporstmanlike conduct), 0:00; Clowe, SJ (unsporstmanlike conduct), 0:00; Bieksa, VAN (interference), 5:48; Kassian, VAN (fighting major), 8:38; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 8:38; Stuart, SJ (tripping), 10:01; Bieksa, VAN (delay of game - puck over glass), 14:20; Clowe, SJ (holding the stick), 17:52; Stuart, SJ (interference), 19:44.
2nd period - Burrows, VAN (tripping), 1:33; Clowe, VAN (tripping), 5:31; Lapierre, VAN (interference), 12:36; Clowe, SJ (high sticking), 19:33; Clowe, SJ (unsporstmanline conduct), 19:33; Clowe, SJ (10 min misconduct), 19:33; Clowe, SJ (game misconduct), 19:33;.
3rd period - Raymond, VAN (interference), 7:29; Bieksa, VAN (charging), 9:16; Volpati, VAN (fighting major), 12:05; Murray, SJ (fighting major), 12:05; Murray, SJ (elbowing), 12:05; Bieksa, VAN (fighting major), 16:26; Desjardins, SJ (fighting major), 16:26; Burrows, VAN (roughing), 18:31; Ballard, VAN (tripping), 19:56.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
VAN - Schneider 27 23
SJ - Niemi 24 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VAN 6 13 5 24
SJ 9 8 10 27
Power Play Conversion
VAN 0 of 7
SJ 2 of 8
3 Stars of the Game
Antti Niemi
Joe Thornton
Joe Pavelski
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Hasenfratz, Jackson. Linesmen: Cvik, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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