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Kennedy and Marleau lead Sharks in win over Leafs
San Jose snaps 3-game home losing streak
1/15/14 - By Mike Lee -

It's been no secret that Patrick Marleau and Tyler Kennedy have struggled this season. Providing little in terms of offense, both players have been trying to snap out of a season long funk that has made this a forgettable season. Kennedy's woes were exacerbated by an injury that sidelined him for 14 games. So when both contributed to the Sharks 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs by scoring goals, it was a nice change for once.

Kennedy struggles have stretched since the Sharks acquired him from the Pittsburgh Penguins before the 2013-14 season. The forward has been a spark plug since returning from his injury two games ago, but his goal on Thursday night against the Maple Leafs was simply downright relieving.

The Sharks opened the game a little shaky, allowing the Maple Leafs to build some confidence. Toronto hadn't scored in more than 130 minutes entering the game with San Jose, so that momentum was just what they were looking for, but Kennedy threw a monkey wrench into any plans to jump on San Jose early.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi played a big part in that, stoning a Toronto shot with a big kick save early, then cashing in on some puck luck when a shot hit the left post, then bounced of his skate and skittered just wide of the goal.

"I thought the last ten minutes of the first period was a little too wide-open for our liking," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "But the start was really good. I liked our transition game. We looked fast. We went after a team that played the night before. We got the start we wanted. The last ten minutes of the first got a little loose, but after that we settled in."

San Jose was working the puck behind the Toronto net before kicking it out to the high slot, where Tomas Hertl unloaded on a shot. The puck hit David Clarkson in the leg or foot, hobbling the winger and essentially creating a 5-on-4 situation. Brenden Dillon retrieved the puck near the left point before spotting Kennedy parked outside the right post. The defenseman sent a 200-foot bullet pass to Kennedy, who was left unattended. Reimer had to commit to a shot, but Kennedy waited him out, opening a hole for the Shark forward's 4th goal of the season.

"Our line is clicking a little bit right now," said the Sharks forward. "I think we gave to focus on the little things to be successful. And I think that's what we're doing right now. It's just two games, and we have to keep moving on and get better."

Clarkson made it to the bench, but had to be helped to the locker room at the next stoppage, which came 11 seconds after Kennedy's goal.

That stoppage was created by Marleau's big contribution to the game. That being his 8th goal of the year. The snake-bitten forward took a drop pass at center ice before racing up the right wing and flipping the puck on goal. That puck slipped past Reimer, but Maple Leafs centerman Nazem Kadri reached behind Reimer and tried to tuck the puck against his goaltender's right pad. Matt Nieto raced in and tried to stab at the puck, but ended up hitting Reimer's pad and subsequently forcing the puck over the goal line.

Kadri then swept the puck out of the net, which eluded the on ice officials. While the Sharks were celebrating, referee Brad Watson waved off the goal. The play went to video replay which confirmed the puck clearly crossing the goal line. Since Nieto didn't actually touch the puck, Marleau was credited with the tally.

The goal was Marleau's 445th career tally, pushing him to 60th on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list.

The only mistake the Sharks made that cost them came with 8 minutes to play in the period. Mike Santorelli circled back toward the net with the puck after skating out of the left corner then fired a shot that sailed wide left. The puck bounced off the end boards and rebounded to the right side of the net where Roman Polak poked it home for his 5th goal of the season. Niemi was busy focusing on Santorelli, and was late to cover the right side of the net.

San Jose went to work in the 2nd period, out-shooting Toronto 17-4. If not for Reimer's solid netminding, the Sharks would have opened up a bigger lead. The inability to add to their lead made the 3rd period more interesting.

The Maple Leafs had their chances, but the puck just didn't want to cooperate. Toronto had to be pulling their hair out after they worked Niemi out of his net with a flurry from the left side of the Sharks goal with 7 minutes to play, and then pushed the puck toward the goal line, but Marc-Edouard's skate was in the right place at the right time for San Jose.

After the Sharks had worked the clock, the Maple Leafs were forced to pull Reimer. That ended with Tye McGinn skating the puck up ice before sliding a pass to his right where Jamie McGinn was there to end the game with an empty-net goal.

"The guys are a little frustrated"said Toronto head coach Peter Horachek after his team finished their swing through California by going 0-3. "They shoot from everywhere that's evident; early they were shooting from outside the blue line, and they're a big team, they shoot from all sides. Maybe it was the back to back (games) but our guys tried and we didn't get the chances (for the puck) to go in. We just have to say 'listen we're in this game for a reason; we need to have the mental fortitude to move forward you got to deal with it. It's not easy but everyone's willing to move forward in the way we want to."



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
TOR 1 0 0 1
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Kennedy 4 (DIllon, Braun), 8:55. 2, SJ, Marleau 8 (Nieto, Braun), 9:06. 3, TOR, Polak 5 (Santorelli, Winnik), 11:57.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Wingels 11 (McGinn, Sheppard), 19:15, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Dillon, SJ (tripping), 13:16; Dillono, SJ (holding), 16:32; Phaneuf, TOR (cross checking), 16:46.
2nd period - Polak, TOR (delay of game), 10:11; Thornton, SJ (illegal check to head), 14:14.
3rd period - Winnik, TOR (holding), 14:53.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
TOR - Reimer 41 39
SJ - Niemi 25 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
TOR 13 4 8 25
SJ 12 17 13 42
Power Play Conversion
TOR 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Justin Braun
Patrick Marleau
James Reimer
Attendance
17,562
Officials
Referees: Watson, Meier. Linesmen: Henderson, Cvik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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