SAN JOSE – It may have taken “team teal” some time to get going on Thursday night, but just like the previous three games, they found a way to turn it on and finish when necessary. And with a convincing victory over the Coyotes on Thursday night, the Sharks have now won four in a row for the first time this season.
And for the first time during the stretch, the top three of Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau found a way to return to the dominant style of play they can bring when firing on all cylinders.
However, even though Marleau scored for the first time in 11 games and added a second later on, the Sharks came up empty on what could have been critical 5-on-3 power-plays. During the first period, the Sharks were on the two-man advantage for nearly a full two minutes as a second Phoenix penalty was called just 12 second into the original power-play.
Considering the game was scoreless at the time and given the length of the 5-on-3, it is almost a must score in some eyes but not Thornton’s: “We’re a veteran group…being a veteran team you just don’t get discouraged,” he said. “You know your going to get more chances as the game goes on.”
Either way, after starting out on the power-play 0-for-4 with two different 5-on-3 advantages being wasted, one could definitely sense the game going the way of the Coyotes.
Fortunately for San Jose — shortly after former Shark Ray Whitney gave Phoenix the 1-0 lead at the 7:50 mark of the second — Dan Boyle quickly evened the score as the usual 5-on-4 power play got back on track. Dany Heatley was parked in front of Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera and Boyle’s point shot picked the corner stick-side.
“Obviously we weren’t happy with not scoring, especially 5-on-3, that can turn the game around, we saw it the game prior,” Boyle said about the power play.
Boyle was referencing how in their previous game against Edmonton, the Oilers failed to convert a 5-on-3 opportunity and very quickly after were down a couple goals. Simply said, opportunities of that caliber can come back to haunt teams when they aren’t converted.
But unlike the Oilers game on Tuesday, the Sharks were able to stick with it and build a comfortable advantage.
Less than three minutes after Boyle’s tying goal, the power-play struck again when Heatley found Thornton with a cross-crease feed and the captain slid the puck home into an empty net to put the Sharks ahead, 2-1.
After two the score remained the same, but Marleau wasted no time extending the advantage. At the 2:53 mark of the third, Marleau picked up a loose puck in front of the Phoenix net and back-handed it top-shelf to make it 3-1.
Later in the final frame, Marleau sniped LaBarbera top corner glove side on the power-play, the third straight man-advantaged converted by team teal.
“You obviously feel good after you get one and you wanna keep going and build off that,” said Marleau.
There’s no question that long term success for the Sharks includes better point production from their former captain. If Thursday’s performance from No. 12 is a sign of things to come, the Sharks could be prime to turn this four game winning streak into a much longer one.
Obviously at times over the current four-game winning streak they haven’t been as good as they would like to be. But with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe going strong on the second line, one can only imagine how scary the Sharks can be if the top dogs can catch fire as well.