Sharks 5, Blue Jackets 2

October 14, 2008 10:35:25 PM PDT
Patrick Marleau scored two goals, Evgeni Nabokov made 31 saves and the San Jose Sharks kept new coach Todd McLellan unbeaten through four games with a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Cheechoo had one of San Jose's two short-handed goals, and Milan Michalek had a power-play score while the Sharks overcame two early deficits. A three-goal flurry in the second period and two more quick scores in the third overwhelmed the Columbus defense and goalie Pascal Leclaire, who made 19 saves before getting yanked.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored and Joe Thornton had two assists in San Jose's fourth straight win over the Blue Jackets, who finished a season-opening three-game road trip with two losses. Columbus has won just once in 15 tries at the Shark Tank in franchise history.

Though it's still quite early, the Sharks are off to the best start in franchise history.

Kristian Huselius and Christian Backman scored power-play goals for the Blue Jackets, who doubled the total number of goals scored against the Sharks this season, but made too many elementary mistakes on defense against the Sharks' talented forwards.

McLellan is the first NHL coach to go 4-0 to start his debut season since Peter Laviolette did it with the New York Islanders in 2001. San Jose has outscored its first four opponents 13-4 with his aggressive, labor-intense system.

The Sharks scored four of their five goals against Columbus on special teams with ample help from Marleau, who is excelling as a penalty killer and forechecker. The San Jose captain scored the go-ahead goal on his own rebound in the second period before adding another short-handed score in the third.

The Sharks scored three goals in a 4:35 span midway through the second period starting when Columbus' Fedor Tyutin turned over the puck to an alert Joe Pavelski, who found Cheechoo in front for his third goal. Backman deflected a long shot off Sharks defenseman Doug Murray's skate for a goal 24 seconds later, but San Jose tied it again on a similar play when Michalek's shot ricocheted off Mike Commodore.

Just 77 seconds after that, Marleau followed his own shot from the point through Columbus' defensive disarray and easily slid it past Leclaire for his first goal of the season.

San Jose extended its lead early in the third when Leclaire and Kris Russell allowed Mike Grier to steal the puck from them behind the Columbus net for a pass to Marleau, who again scored on his own rebound.

Three minutes later, Thornton stole a sloppy Columbus exchange behind its own net and got the puck to Vlasic in front for his first goal. The Blue Jackets then pulled Leclaire for Fredrik Norrena, who got his first action of the season.

Notes:@ Jeremy Roenick, the Sharks' 38-year-old center, got into a dustup in the closing minutes with Columbus' 21-year-old rookie Derek Dorsett, who was in his second NHL game. Both got misconduct penalties. ... Columbus C Michael Peca missed his second game under indefinite suspension after bumping an official in the season opener against Dallas. ... Sharks C Marcel Goc made his season debut after sitting out the first three games with a sore back. Rookie Tomas Plihal was scratched to make room for the defensive-minded veteran. ... The Jackets finally will get their home opener Friday night against Nashville.


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