HIGHLIGHTS -- Greiss shuts out Avs, Sharks stay perfect
Patrick Marleau leads the NHL in goals with eight, while Joe Thornton, who had a goal and an assist himself, remains the league’s scoring leader with 11 points (2g, 9a). (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ power play remained scorching hot against Colorado, scoring three goals – two by Patrick Marleau – as San Jose breezed past the Avalanche, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon at HP Pavilion. The Sharks improved to 4-0-0.
Marleau became just the second player in NHL history to start a season with four straight multiple-goal games, and the first since 1917-18 (Cy Denneny, Ottawa). Marleau leads the NHL in goals with eight, while Joe Thornton, who had a goal and an assist himself, is tied with Marleau for the league lead in scoring with 11 points.
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Colorado had the early territorial advantage, but that quickly changed on a devastating check by defenseman Brad Stuart. The blueliner caught Avalanche captain and 2012 Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog with a hard shoulder in the neutral zone, flattening the 20-year-old. Colorado defenseman Ryan O’Byrne jumped Stuart to engage him in a fight and was issued minor penalties for instigation and fighting with a facemask, sending out the Sharks’ lethal power play.
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Marleau’s first at 16:09 came when he found a loose puck in front of the net after a Dan Boyle point shot. A beautiful passing play from Boyle to Thornton to Marleau at 17:27 made it 2-0 at the break.
Thornton scored at 2:32 of the second with P.A. Parenteau off on a trip, when a Marleau deflection attempt ended up on the captain’s stick at the side of the net for an easy conversion.
Matt Irwin’s slap shot at 17:05 after a Sharks power had just expired gave San Jose a comfortable 4-0 lead after 40 minutes. The goal was the 25-year-old Irwin’s first in the NHL.
Thomas Greiss won his first start of the season in net. The German native stopped all 24 Avalanche shots, improving to 3-0 in his career against them, and posted his first career shutout.
The Sharks’ penalty killers played a key role early with the game still scoreless. Andrew Desjardins (roughing) and Logan Couture (high-stick) were issued early minors, but Colorado could not convert. In fact, the Avalanche didn’t register a single shot on goal during the four minutes of power play time.
San Jose finished 3-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Greiss had plenty of help around the crease, as the Sharks were strong in clearing loose pucks out of harm’s way. The 26-year-old had played in 38 NHL games over three seasons with San Jose without blanking an opponent.
Jan Hejda nearly spoiled it with three minutes left when he rang a wrist shot off of the post.
Semyon Varlamov was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere to start the third period. Varlamov made 22 saves on 26 shots before becoming a spectator in the third.
In four career starts against San Jose, Varlamov fell to 2-3-0 with a 4.30 goals-against average and .872 save percentage.
Scott Gomez made his Sharks debut, centering the fourth line between Desjardins and Adam Burish and playing up front on the second power play unit. He nearly scored with eight minutes left in regulation, but just missed tapping in a rebound off of the back boards.
The Sharks remain without Jason Demers (wrist) and Brent Burns (lower body). James Sheppard was scratched to make room for Gomez.
The Sharks will play their first of nine back-to-backs this season when they host Vancouver on Sunday (4:30 p.m. pregame, CSN California). It will be the third game of a six-game homestand.