The Sharks just looked much better, getting the first career goal by Jamie McGinn during a three-goal outburst midway through the second period that carried them to a 4-2 victory over the Red Wings on Thursday night.
"I thought we got 'Winged' tonight," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought they did everything exactly like we try to do. They just did it better tonight. We're going to look forward to playing them again. I think he's done a real good job. He's got a real good team over there."
McLellan came to San Jose after spending the past three seasons as an assistant on Babcock's staff, putting added emphasis getting shots and disrupting the opposing goalie by getting players in front of the net.
All four goals in this game came from close range as the Sharks were able to create open spaces against a Red Wings team coming off an overtime loss in Anaheim the previous night.
The early returns on general manager Doug Wilson's decision to hire McLellan as the replacement have been all positive, as San Jose (9-2) is off to the best start in franchise history. The Sharks have beaten the two Stanley Cup finalists the past two games, knocking off runner-up Pittsburgh 2-1 on Tuesday.
"It was a huge win for us, not only are they the Stanley Cup champs but we stole their assistant coach," forward Ryan Clowe said. "It was a big night for him."
While the Sharks players talked about winning one for McLellan, the coach downplayed any significance about facing his former team.
"Everybody is making this about me," he said. "It's not about me, it's about the players. It's nice to know that they wanted to play hard for the coaching staff. People come to watch them play, they don't come to watch us coach."
What they saw was another impressive performance by the Sharks. Patrick Marleau started the scoring spree for San Jose and Clowe capped it 3:25 later with a power-play goal that gave San Jose a 3-1 lead.
Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves and Joe Pavelski added a third-period goal for San Jose, which improved to 6-0 this season at the Shark Tank.
The past two wins have been satisfying. San Jose set a franchise record Tuesday by holding the Penguins to just 11 shots. The Sharks were nearly as dominant against the Red Wings in a matchup between the top two teams in the Western Conference, looking fresher all game and controlling the play from the start.
"We were really looking forward to this week," Clowe said. "After coming off that road trip we were prepared and knew what we had ahead of us. We have the respect around the league as a good team. We're showing this year that we're ready to take the next step."
The Red Wings actually managed to score first, converting on one of their few scoring opportunities. Marian Hossa beat Nabokov with a shot from the right faceoff circle just 18 seconds into the second period.
But the Sharks kept the pressure on and got the equalizer at the 7:01 mark when Joe Thornton fed Marleau from behind the net for an easy goal.
The fourth line then delivered for San Jose when Jody Shelley played the puck behind the net for Tomas Plihal, who played the puck in front. McGinn, playing just his second career game, then poked the puck past Ty Conklin for the goal. Those three forwards had combined for one point all season before Shelley and Plihal got credit for assists on McGinn's goal.
Then with Hossa in the penalty box for tripping, Clowe capped the barrage when he took a pass from Milan Michalek and beat Conklin from in front of the net at the 10:26 mark to make it 3-1.
"They really capitalized on their chances, made nice plays and skated well," Wings center Valtteri Filppula said. "We weren't good enough with the puck tonight and when they're skating well that's not good enough."
Conklin, playing his fourth game of the season, made 29 saves for the Red Wings, who had recorded points in nine straight games. Brian Rafalski added a goal in the final minute for Detroit.
Notes:@ McGinn added an assist on Pavelski's goal for his second career point. ... Detroit had won its past four games in San Jose, including two games in the 2007 playoffs. ... The Red Wings had scored at least one power-play goal in eight straight games, before being held scoreless on their two chances against San Jose.