After opening the season in Europe, the San Jose Sharks have
spent the past week knocking around one another in practice.
They’ll begin the North American portion of their schedule
against a team they’ve knocked around for the last several
Following a lengthy layoff, the Sharks look to continue their
dominance over the Atlanta Thrashers in their opener Saturday
San Jose (1-0-1) began the season with a two-game series against
Columbus in Stockholm, Sweden. The Sharks won 3-2 on Oct. 8, and
lost by the same score in overtime the next day.
“We have some points in the bank that people can’t take away
from us and we start building on our season,” San Jose coach Todd
The Sharks left Europe immediately after the defeat, and upon
arriving back in the United States, spent the past few days
practicing and re-adjusting to the time change. After several
scrimmages and watching other NHL teams play, San Jose feels it’s
ready to get on with its schedule.
“I know they are getting tired of practicing,” McLellan told the
Sharks’ official website. “We’ve had two games in about two weeks
and a lot of practices. They want to go out and find out where we
San Jose might already have a good idea of how it stacks up
against Atlanta (2-2-0).
The Sharks have outscored the Thrashers 22-10 in winning five
straight meetings since a 2-all tie on Nov. 2, 2003, and are 5-0-0
with one tie all-time against them in San Jose.
The Sharks won at Atlanta 4-3 in the only meeting last season.
Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist, while Dany Heatley and
Joe Thornton also scored.
Thornton, who has goals in each of his first two contests this
year, has six with eight assists in his last eight games against
San Jose was tied for league’s third-best home record last
season at 27-6-8, and Antti Niemi is scheduled to make his first
start at HP Pavilion as a member of the Sharks. He made two starts
in San Jose last season in helping Chicago sweep the Sharks in the
Western Conference finals en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
Niemi, who made 23 saves in a 5-4 shootout victory for the
Blackhawks in his lone career start against the Thrashers on Feb.
13, will face four of his former Chicago teammates in Dustin
Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel. They were all
traded to Atlanta in the offseason.
The new-look Thrashers arrive in San Jose to conclude a
four-game road trip following a 5-4 shootout win over Anaheim on
Trailing 4-2 with 10 minutes left in regulation, right wing
Anthony Stewart scored twice to complete his first career hat trick
and help the Thrashers avoid losing their third straight.
“If we’re down two or three it’s not that big of a deal,”
Stewart said. “We have a lot of veterans and a lot of young guys
that don’t know any better.”
It was an unlikely scoring outburst for Stewart, who had four
goals in his first 108 career games.
Chris Mason made his third straight start, and finished with 37
saves while turning aside all four shots in the tiebreaker.
Although this is his first season with the Thrashers, Mason has
also had little luck against the Sharks, going 1-7-2 with a 3.00
goals-against average in 10 career starts.