Strong starts have become a staple for the San Jose Sharks, and superb defense has led to another.
The Sharks look to continue their stingy play and improve to 5-0 as they face the New York Islanders for the first time in Brooklyn on Saturday night.
San Jose (4-0-0) went 4-0-1 in its first five games last season after winning its first six of 2013-14 and seven in the season prior.
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This season’s start has been spurred by defense, with the Sharks the first team to give up two goals or fewer through the first four games since Detroit in 1948-49.
Martin Jones has started every game, compiling a 0.49 goals-against average and two shutouts.
"The ‘D’ have done a good job in front of the net, and I am seeing pucks, but you don’t go four games like that with one guy," Jones said. "We’ve played really, really solid both ends of the ice, and we haven’t spent a lot of time in our zone in the four games. It has been a good start."
Jones helped to keep it going Friday, making 31 saves before turning aside two shootout attempts in a 2-1 win at New Jersey. He had gone a franchise-record 234 minutes, 33 seconds without allowing a goal before that run was snapped late in the third period.
Alex Stalock held the previous record at 178:55 set in January 2014, and he’s slated to get the start Saturday. He went 8-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA in 22 games – 19 starts – last season.
Stalock made 42 saves through overtime before losing 4-3 in a shootout at New York on Oct. 16, 2014.
Patrick Marleau scored his team-leading third goal Friday but also missed a penalty shot in the second period. The left wing has 10 points over his last nine meetings with the Islanders.
San Jose is 6-0-2 in its last eight meetings with New York, going 3-0-1 at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders are getting accustomed to their new digs, overcoming a two-goal deficit to win 4-3 over Nashville on Thursday after beating Winnipeg 4-2 three days earlier.
"You’ve got to find ways to win," captain John Tavares said. "You won’t always have your best. We were able to beat one of the best teams in the West. You look at their team. It was a good way to battle back and find a way to win.
"Our crowd has been great. Fans have been great. They have brought energy and passion."
That seems to be rubbing off on Tavares, whose team-leading three goals and three assists have all come in three games at the Islanders’ new home.
The All-Star center has seven points in six career meetings with San Jose.
Like Tavares, Brock Nelson’s three points have all come at home. He’s also found a new home on the right wing after spending the last two seasons as a center.
"It’s a little different in the defensive zone, not being able to see the whole ice as well, but going into the offensive zone you’re able to make a couple more plays and create a couple more chances," Nelson told the team’s official website.
The Islanders have an opportunity to deal a third straight opponent its first loss of the season after doing it to the Jets and Predators.
Thomas Greiss seems likely to face his former team for the first time after making a career-high 44 saves against Nashville. Greiss played 44 games for San Jose from 2008-13.