Fourth-line left winger Raffi Torres tied the score midway
through the second period, and rookie right winger Matt Nieto
delivered the winner early in the third as the Sharks capped their
three-game road trip with a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey
Devils at Prudential Center.
Nieto, who was a scratch in the Sharks' previous game, finished a
two-on-one rush with left winger Joe Pavelski, who had two assists,
for his eighth goal of the season. The 21-year-old went from sitting
in the press box Friday in Buffalo to playing on the top line with
Pavelski and center Joe Thornton on Sunday, and it worked out quite
"Whenever you get a chance to be in the lineup, you have to have a
positive impact," Nieto said. "That's something I try to do whenever
I'm in. It's so easy playing with those guys."
As is his way, Sharks coach Todd McLellan enjoys mixing his forward
lines and did so for Sunday's matinee.
"I think it's good to shuffle lines because playoff time comes
around, guys are going to get injured," Thornton said. "Everybody
has to be familiar to play with each other. There's no better time
than now to get used to each other."
The victory pushed the Sharks to within five points of the Anaheim
Ducks for the top spot in the NHL. The Sharks (39-17-6) finished
their road trip 2-1-0, with the only loss coming to the Sabres on
"Two-for-three," Thornton said. "We'll take that."
That is exactly what the Devils can't take as they try to climb
closer to a playoff spot. They were coming off convincing victories
against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and the New York
Islanders on Saturday but couldn't find the third straight win. The
Devils (26-23-13) won three consecutive games only once this season,
Losing this one after taking a 2-1 lead in the second period on
goals from left winger Adam Henrique and center Patrik Elias made it
even harder to swallow.
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"We would like to get the six points there," said Devils defenseman
Andy Greene, who nearly tied the score at 3-3 late in the third
period, but his shot went through the legs of Sharks goaltender Alex
Stalock and wide of the net. "They're a great team, and we're coming
off a back-to-back there. It's disappointing, but we had a pretty
good effort. Just a couple turnovers there and they capitalized."
The Devils had defensive breakdowns on the Sharks' final three
goals, including a ghastly gaffe from defenseman Eric Gelinas that
sprung left winger Patrick Marleau for a breakaway and third-period
goal that beat goaltender Cory Schneider, making made it 4-2 with
Prior to Marleau's insurance goal, the Devils had a chance to tie it
on a power play but could not find the equalizing goal. After going
6-for-11 on the power play in their previous two games, the Devils
went 0-for-4 in a loss that leaves them three points behind the
Detroit Red Wings in the chase for the final wild-card spot in the
The Red Wings have two games in hand on the Devils, who are seeing
their time run out to make the postseason.
"It's frustrating, but I thought we had our legs right away from the
start," said Devils left winger Ryane Clowe, who was drafted by the
Sharks in 2001 and spent eight seasons with San Jose. "It wasn't our
lack of energy. It was mentally, we have to realize that even though
we got two wins, if we're in (San Jose's) position, comfortably in
the playoffs, you take your foot off the gas. But not where we're
at. We just got to be sharper when we have the puck."
NOTES: Devils D Bryce Salvador missed his second consecutive game
with an upper-body injury. ... New Jersey also was without RW Damien
Brunner, who is out with a charley horse. ... The Devils' next two
games are against the Detroit Red Wings, who are three points ahead
of the Devils for the final wild-card spot in the East. ... The
Sharks scratched RWs Mike Brown and Adam Burish. ... This was the
final stop on a four-game road trip for the Sharks, who will return
to the New York area in two weeks to face the Islanders and Rangers.
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