Sharks' fast start proves too much for struggling Oilers
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)
Couture and Kearns each scored in their third straight game to help the Sharks bounce back from a rough game in Anaheim by beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 on Thursday night.
Kearns, who became the oldest Shark ever to score his first NHL goal on Sunday at age 32, has added two more in the past two games to give banged-up San Jose a needed boost.
''I've seen him work so hard every day, and he's a guy that you admire, especially for me,'' Couture said. ''I've had a lot different road to get to the NHL than he has. You look at him playing 600 games in the minors, and now he's getting a shot and scores in three straight games. It's incredible. It gives you chills thinking about it.''
''We're a team that when you lose one, you like to get back and get the next one and I think we proved that tonight,'' Thornton said. ''We have a lot of good character players in this room. Go out and work hard and that's what we did tonight. There's no secret. Just get back to work. We didn't work as hard as we feel we should have in Anaheim and we got back to it tonight.''
Nail Yakupov scored the lone goal for the last-place Oilers, who looked flat to open the new year in the front end of a difficult back-to-back. The Oilers play Friday night at the first-place Anaheim Ducks, who have not lost at home in regulation all season.
The Sharks have been nearly as tough at home so far, losing just once in regulation. San Jose needed to go to a shootout in five of its previous eight home games before dispatching the Oilers easily by scoring twice in each of the first two periods against Devan Dubnyk.
''They proved why their record is the way it is and we showed why we have the record we do,'' Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference said. ''If you want any kind of success against good teams like that, you can't make it harder on yourselves. You have to limit the mistakes.''
The Sharks got off to a fast start once again, breaking out to a 2-0 lead in the first period for the 15th time in 41 games this season.
San Jose squandered a pair of early power-play chances and needed Niemi to make two pad stops on Sam Gagner on one of them to keep the game scoreless.
The Sharks then used great puck movement on their first goal and a takeaway for their second to take the 2-0 lead.
Justin Braun got a shot on net from the point and Pavelski sent the rebound to Burns, who knocked it in the short side of the net for his 13th goal.
Less than a minute later, Marleau took the puck from Yakupov near the boards and skated to the high slot, where he beat Dubnyk with a wrister for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
''We turned it over again and again and again,'' Yakupov said. ''We made too many mistakes.''
San Jose broke it open with the two goals in the second, starting with Kearns' third on a quick one-timer past an unsuspecting Dubnyk.
''It feels good, but like I said before, there's a lot of luck in that streak and I've just got to try to keep it going,'' Kearns said.
Couture then took a breakout pass from John McCarthy and beat Dubnyk on a breakaway to make it 4-0 and give him 200 career points.
Yakupov scored his second goal of the season against the Sharks later in the second and gave an emphatic fist pump that drew boos from the sellout crowd.
Those turned to cheers and chants of ''U-S-A! U-S-A!'' in the third when Pavelski one-timed a shot past Dubnyk just one day after being picked for his second U.S. Olympic team.
NOTES: Marleau tied former Shark Owen Nolan for 73rd place all-time with his 422nd career goal. ... McCarthy recorded his first point in 22 games this season. ... F Tommy Wingels missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Yakupov returned for Edmonton after being a healthy scratch Tuesday in Phoenix.