The San Jose Sharks knocked off the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night earning their first victory on home ice this season in a 5-2 final.
After dropping the finale of their road trip in a 4-0 fashion in Calgary, San Jose bounced back impressively against a tough New Jersey squad.
The big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley led the way in impressive fashion. Each of them netted a goal and the trio combined for 13 points between them.
Thornton, who finished with five points, tallied his first hat trick on home ice as a Shark.
With Marleau and Heatley picking up the other two goals, each of San Jose’s tallies were buried by one of the top three. Better yet, in their first extended action as an even strength forward trio, the big three scored four even strength goals.
Only Thornton’s third goal in the second, however, came on the man power play.
And just one other Shark besides the big three, Jason Demers, got on the score sheet. While scoring depth is necessary and important to every squad, the top guns being able to dominate the scoreboard without help from other lines is a good sign moving forward.
Last year teams saw just how lethal the “Team Canada line” or “Heated Jumbo Patty” can be when playing together. When the secondary scoring isn’t getting it done, the top guys need to be able to carry the load.
While the big three had been putting up power play points so far this season, each player was a minus in the plus/minus category before the game. Heatley was minus-3, Marleau minus-7 and Thornton minus-9. In other words the three were a combined minus-19 prior to Wednesday but after the win over the Devils, the trio stands at just minus-7 between them as each went plus-4 against the Devils. Coming into the season again with high expectations, the Sharks will need their stars to be their stars.
Any potential goaltending and defensive problems they may experience throughout the season will no doubt be addressed if they start to become critical issues. However, on Wednesday the focus is on the offense which flexed it’s muscle.
Last postseason, Heatley was limited with injury and if the Sharks are to win their first Stanley Cup this season, they are going to need the top trio at their best. Against the Devils, the three put on the ultimate display of what they are capable of when put together and firing on all cylinders.
With the win, San Jose now moves to 4-3-1 on the season and will take on the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night—their first divisional game of the season.
It’d be a good bet that the big three will remain together for that one.