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Wilson gets 5 goal salute
Sharks tie 65-year-old NHL record
12/2/08 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks sure know how to throw a homecoming. They welcomed Ron Wilson with a 4-goal 1st period and manhandled Wilson's Toronto Maple Leaf squad with a resounding 5-2 win at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night. After his firing last summer, Wilson said the Sharks would "regret" not bringing back their longtime coach. So much for that notion. With the win, the Sharks tied a 65-year-old NHL record for best start in league history with their 43rd point in their first 25 games.

Wilson downplayed the thrashing after the game, even though everyone in the building knew the Sharks former coach would have savored a win in his old barn.

"A win in San Jose wouldn't have made my season or anything like that," Wilson said after the contest. "It's one game and I've coached, I don't know, 1100-and-whatever games. It's one game on the schedule. Sure, you'd like to do better than we did tonight, maybe a little more than losing a game, but what are you going to do?"

The Sharks extended an olive branch early in the game with a video tribute to Wilson, but the message went unnoticed. Wilson was too busy trying to figure out how to stop his defense from hemorrhaging goals.

"No, I didn't see it [the tribute on the big screen]," Wilson replied after being asked about the tribute. "I was licking my wounds at that point. I didn't know when they did it or what the score was, but it wasn't fun being on the bench the first period."

That opening period featured goals by four different Sharks, including Devin Setoguchi who tallied his team leading 13th of the season just 1:15 into the contest. Setoguchi seemed to throw a routine backhander on net, but the puck found its way between former Sharks netminder Vesa Toskala's pads.

San Jose would make it 2-0 later in the period on one of the odder goals you'll ever see. Skating on a delayed penalty, Joe Pavelski sent a shot in that sailed over the back of the Toronto goal, but hit the glass and caromed back toward Toskala. The puck then hit the crossbar, bounced off Toskala's back and landed next to his left skate. Joe Thornton two a couple of whacks at it, before knocking it into the goal.

Things would settle down for the next 10 minutes, but then lightning would strike again.

First Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau and Boyle would team up for the Sharks 3rd score of the period. Switching roles, Marleau sat stationed on the right point and sent a pass to Boyle who was parked in the slot. The defenseman received the feed from Marleau, pivoted to face the net and sent in a shot that found its way through traffic to the back of the Maple Leafs net.

A holding penalty to Toronto defenseman Jeff Finger would lay the foundation for the nightmarish period for Wilson. Seemingly teasing the Toronto penalty killers, the Sharks cycled the puck in the offensive zone for 30 seconds before Setoguchi sent a pass to Thornton who was parked outside the right post. With his momentum carrying him away from the goal, Thornton sent a blind backhand pass across the crease to Marc-Edouard Vlasic who was pinching in from the weak side. All Vlasic had to do was tap the feed into the wide open net.

"First period was tremendous," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "We had a lot of jump. We executed well and won a lot of puck battles. We gave up a few too many shots in my opinion. We talked before the game about playing a complete game and we still haven't gotten there."

Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had a fairly uneventful evening, facing 31 shots in total, but few that posed any threat. Toronto rookie Nikolai Kulemin finally solved Nabokov with a shot from 12 feet out on a Niklas Hagman feed midway through the 2nd period.

Toskala was not as fortunate. Still his coach didn't lay blame on his netminder.

"No, Toskala had no help there, point blank," said Wilson. "We were standing around in the first period and they were minus three and that can't happen. On the road you can't really control some of your changes. They were matching their top line against ours and we just got beat."

Making his fist appearance in San Jose as a Shark, San Jose rookie Riley Armstrong played a strong game with the exception of a hooking penalty he took early in the 3rd period. San Jose simply used it as an opportunity to flex their shorthanded skills, when Pavelski raced up the ice on a 2-on-1 break with Milan Michalek after Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle fell down at the Sharks blueline. Pavelski skated up the right wing, before cutting across the slot and snapping his 11th goal of the season past Toskala.

Hagman would add a meaningless goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to round out the scoring. The Maple Leafs forward had been jostling with Nabokov right before the goal was scored, to Hagman used it as an opportunity gloat over the Sharks netminder. The reaction was a little too late.

"They come at you really fast and we kind of expected that - a quick start - and we just weren't ready for it," said Wilson. "They got a couple of lucky bounces. You see the way they crash the net; they're going to cash in. If we somehow could have survived maybe the first ten minutes of the game, we would have found an equilibrium. That was one where you throw the white towel in the corner, you know, in a boxing match."

As for the Sharks historic accomplishment, it was all part of the journey as far as McLellan is concerned.

"The record is something were proud of and we are pleased with…But again it's about the full 60 minute effort," added the Sharks head coach. "We had a pretty good effort for the most part tonight but not consistent enough to be a team that can win at the end. So we've still got some work to do."

Game Notes:

The game ended on a sour note when Marcel Goc took exception to Luke Schenn's check on Tomas Plihal in the waning moments of the game. Goc wnet after the Maple Leafs rookie and earned a double minor for roughing. Remember the name Mikhail Grabovski. The Maple Leafs rookie centered the Maple Leafs top line and was all over the ice. Blake moved into the 21st spot of all time scorers among defensemen with his assist on Setoguchi's goal. It was on December 2nd, 2005 that the Sharks acquired Joe Thornton from Boston in what is arguably the biggest trade in franchise history.


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1 2 3 T
TOR 0 1 1 2
SJ 4 0 1 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Setoguchi 13 (Thornton, Blake), 1:15. 2, SJ, Thornton 7 (Pavelski, Marleau), 6:35. 3, SJ, Boyle 9 (Marleau, Thornton), 15:59. 4, SJ, Vlasic 3 (Thornton, Setoguchi), 17:07, (pp).
2nd period - 5, TOR, Kulemin 5 (HAgman, Grabovski), 9:10.
3rd period - 6, SJ, Pavelski 11 (Michalek), 4:00, (sh). 7, TOR, Hagman 8 (Antropov, Grabovski), 19:26.
1st period - Shelley, SJ (hooking), 11:03; Finger, TOR (holding the stick), 16:25.
2nd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 4:15.
3rd period - Armstrong, SJ (hooking), 3:22; Hollweg, TOR (slashing), 11:45; Kubina, TOR (holding), 14:14; Schenn, TOR (roughing), 19:47; Goc, SJ (roughing), 19:47; Goc, SJ (roughing), 19:47.
Shots Saves
TOR - Toskala 30 25
SJ - Nabokov 31 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
TOR 10 12 9 31
SJ 13 6 11 30
Power Play Conversion
TOR 0 of 4
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Patrick Marleau
Dan Boyle
Referees: Lee, Watson. Linesmen: Brisebois, Cameron.

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