SAN JOSE, Calif (The Hockey Writers) Last year the San Jose Sharks got off to a very slow start, winning just 21 of their first 45 contests. If Opening Night was any indication, they won’t repeat that performance this season.
Behind an Opening Night San Jose record three power play scores, the Sharks bolted to a 6-1 edge after two periods, then hung on through a somewhat sloppy third period to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes, 6-3. The six total goals are also the most San Jose has scored in a season lid-lifter.
With the trade of Dany Heatley to Minnesota, Joe Pavelski moved up to the top line alongside Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, but he wound up scoring twice on the power play for the Sharks. Andrew Desjardins, who played in 17 games last year for San Jose, tripled his career goal total with a pair, one on the power play, the other an unassisted goal after he grabbed an errant clearing attempt by Coyotes netminder Mike Smith, absorbed a huge hit from Martin Hanzal, and snapped a wrist shot from the low slot past Smith.
Michal Handzus scored his first goal in a Sharks uniform, blueliners Brent Burns and Brad Winchester each tallied their first assists in teal, and Patrick Marleau added a pair of helpers and just missed scoring into an empty net late in the game.
Shane Doan had a pair of power play goals for Phoenix, which scored all three of their markers on the man-advantage.
“They just overwhelmed us for the first two periods,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. “I didn’t like what we did in front of the goalie; the goalie battled hard. We have to be better, execute better, react in situations better. We have some people who have been behind a little bit, and they have to get up to speed.”
Doan was succinct. “That was embarrassing; not what we wanted to do at all.”
Despite the lack of success on the penalty kill, Sharks coach Todd McLellan saw a lot to like in the game. “We set out to win the game and we accomplished that. We did a lot of things well. We captured the energy in the building and played with it. Our power play was good. All four lines contributed. Giving up three on the penalty kill is not what we planned to do, but I was more disappointed with the penalties we took (leading) 6-1 than with the penalty kill.”
The Coyotes will practice in Dallas Sunday for a Monday game, while San Jose is off until Friday, when they face the Ducks in Anaheim.