Sharks' Top Line Finally Breaks Through
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- All it took was a broken stick.
San Jose Sharks winger Dany Heatley, who moments earlier took the puck from Nicklas Lidstrom after the Detroit Red Wings defenseman's stick shattered on a slap shot, sent a shot on net that ricocheted off goalie Jimmy Howard's blocker. Joe Thornton tapped the puck into the net, his first goal of the postseason and the decisive goal in a 4-3 Sharks victory in Game 2 of the second-round series at HP Pavilion Sunday night.
In a playoff season where the Sharks' No. 2 line -- Joe Pavelski in particular -- has carried the team, it was the more veteran top line that put the Sharks up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series with the third-period conversion.
"They played a lot all year," said coach Todd McLellan, who put Heatley, Thornton and Patrick Marleau together as the Sharks entered the third period down 3-2. "When we needed big goals, they got them for us. There was a lot of talk about them being shut out in the first round. I thought by putting them back together, it'd be a challenge for them."
Even after Game 2, Thornton, Heatley and Marleau -- who were also grouped together in Team Canada's run toward the gold medal at the Vancouver Games -- only have one goal each. The trio couldn't get together in Game 1 as Marleau sat with flu-like symptoms.
"I thought once he put all three of us together, we played well," Thornton said.
That tally was a Game 2 oddity on two accounts: it didn't come on the power play and it came without Pavelski on the ice.
Pavelski scored two more goals to boost his league-leading postseason scoring output to nine. It was his third multi-goal game in a row, something that hasn't happened since Mario Lemieux accomplished that feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. It was also the first time a player has had three points in three consecutive games since the Colorado Avalanche's Joe Sakic pulled it off in 1996.
Lemieux and Sakic won the Stanley Cup the years they set those marks.
"I don't know exactly what it is," said Pavelski. "It's good to see the pucks go in the net."
Some fan reacted to his first goal by tossing a small shark on the ice.
"Yeah, it was some kind of fish," Pavelski smiled. "I think I almost tripped over it."
Both of Pavelski's goals were on the power play, which the the Sharks were on 10 times for 12 minutes, 54 seconds.
Pavelski also assisted on arguably the Sharks' slickest goal of the playoffs. He outraced Wings defenseman Brad Stuart to the puck midway through the first period and shuffled it to the front of the net where Ryane Clowe, with his back to the net, put the puck through his legs and past Howard.
"I didn't know it went between my legs," Clowe said. "I thought it went around my skates. I didn't know I did that until I saw the replay on the JumboTron."
While the Clowe-Pavelski-Devin Setoguchi line has put up 30 points this postseason, Clowe said it was just a matter of time before his team's marquee line got going.
"Sometimes, the puck doesn't go in," Clowe said. "Joe and the whole line have competed hard. It just didn't happen for them. You just have to stick with it. Eventually, you'll get rewarded and they got rewarded tonight."