Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Sharks cruise past slumping Leafs

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[March 12, 2014]  SAN JOSE, Calif.  The Anaheim Ducks should be hearing footsteps about now.

The Sharks got two goals from left winger Joe Pavelski as San Jose crept within two points of the first-place Ducks in the Pacific Division with a 6-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Wingers Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and Martin Havlat and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored goals for San Jose. Center Joe Thornton added three assists as the Sharks dominated a Maple Leafs team that won in Anaheim the night before.

"We like to jump on teams as fast as possible, and I think we did that," Thornton said. "We just kept them down all night. It's tough coming to the West Coast, then playing on back-to-back nights."

It was a disappointing third stop of a five-game road trip for the Maple Leafs, who came into the game 14-3-3 in their last 20. Hoping to atone for a 4-2 home loss to San Jose on Dec. 3, Toronto instead got outshot 48-21 and got dominated in the faceoff circle (48-28 for the Sharks).

"We did a lot of things that gave them a lot of opportunities, like turning the puck over," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't skate. We were standing still. Their backside pressure caused us a lot of problems. Once the game started to tilt their way, we couldn't get it back."


"There's no sitting around and pouting about it," said defenseman Dion Phaneuf, the Leafs' captain. "We're going into another tough building against a physical team (Thursday against the Kings in Los Angeles)."

The only downer was San Jose's continued struggles on the power play, which went 0-for-4 and now stands at 2-for-52 over 17 games. The Sharks didn't manage a shot on goal during 1:34 of five-on-three play, and they surrendered a short-handed goal on their penultimate man-advantage.

"The power play could be a little better," Pavelski dead-panned. "It'll come, it'll come."

Pavelski and Havlat scored San Jose's two third-period goals, but it was Wingels stealing the thunder late by collecting his first career Gordie Howe hat trick. He fought Leafs right winger Joffrey Lupul at 16:56 after bagging a goal and an assist earlier.

"You're not thinking about it," Wingels said. "I think more guys are telling me about it than anything else."

The Sharks took control in the second period, scoring twice within a span of 79 seconds while registering 15 of the period's first 16 shots.

"From the beginning, we weren't ready to play," Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner said. "We gave up two pretty quick ones, and no one really played well. Their top two lines are as good as most teams' first lines."

Wingels hammered Toronto center Peter Holland in the defensive zone, ignored right winger David Clarkson's invitation to drop the gloves, then raced to the other end in time to redirect defenseman Justin Braun's drive from the right point past Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer at 6:54.

"I don't think after a good hit there needs to be a fight," Wingels said. "I said 'no thanks.' The best way to respond like that is to score. It was a good response from the team."

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Thornton showed great patience on a line rush, picking out trailer Pavelski, whose goal at 8:13 represented his 400th career point. The play gave San Jose a 4-1 lead.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission that was not without controversy.

The teams traded early goals 25 seconds apart. Vlasic one-timed right winger Matt Nieto's deflected feed through Reimer's five-hole at 3:58. Nieto stole the puck from Gardiner to start the sequence.

Gardiner atoned by tapping a goal-mouth feed from left winger Mason Raymond past San Jose goalie Antti Niemi at 4:23 to cap a two-on-one break started when Havlat turned the puck over just inside the Toronto blue line.

Wingels appeared to poke a rebound under the pad of Reimer and over the goal line at 9:37, but no goal was the call following a review. The ruling was based on referee Dave Jackson's intent to blow the whistle after losing sight of the puck.

Then, at 11:04, Burns' turnaround shot from the slot through a Thornton screen was waved off by Jackson but overturned by video to give the hosts a one-goal edge.

Burns' 18th goal of the season was also his fourth in four games. Thornton moved into 47th on the all-time points list (1,180) with the assist.

"If we want home-ice advantage in the playoffs, then we have to take care of playing here in front of our fans," said Vlasic, who was a plus-5. "It's nice to have three big wins before we go on the road."

NOTES: San Jose C Joe Thornton has 17 points in his past nine games against the Maple Leafs. ... The Sharks embark on a three-game road trip with a visit to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. ... The Sharks last hosted Toronto on Jan. 1, 2011. The teams meet twice in the same season for the first time since 1997-98. ... Sharks RW Raffi Torres did not play due to general soreness. He has appeared in five of the seven games since returning from early-season knee surgery. San Jose RW Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) and D Brad Stuart (upper body) remain out. RW Tyler Kennedy and D Matt Tennyson were healthy scratches for the Sharks. ... Toronto RW Dave Bolland (left ankle surgery) and RW Carter Ashton (hand) remain out. D Cody Franson (illness) was replaced by RW Colton Orr, who was making his first appearance since Feb. 4.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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