The San Jose Sharks will try for their third consecutive win when they host the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
The Sharks began the season with four consecutive losses, getting outscored 17-5 in the process, but the team has experienced a turnaround since the return of franchise icon Patrick Marleau to the lineup.
The 40-year-old center, who spent his first 19 seasons in San Jose and ranks first in franchise history in games played (1,495), points (1,085) and goals (510), had two goals in his first game back, a 5-4 victory at Chicago on Thursday.
Marleau followed that up with an assist Sunday in the Sharks’ 3-1 victory over Calgary in his first game back at the SAP Center, where he was greeted with a rousing ovation.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that we’ve won the last two and he’s been in the lineup,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “He just plays the right way. He does the right thing when he’s out on the ice all the time. It’s really helped solidify our lineup a little bit.”
Sharks captain Logan Couture said, “It’s good to see everyone smiling again. You lose four in a row and no one is smiling. But Patty was there, and everyone was smiling.”
“Everyone is comfortable with everyone,” added right winger Kevin Labanc, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal against the Flames. “Doesn’t matter who you are playing with, every line is going to produce. And it’s just the start of something special.”
San Jose goaltender Martin Jones finished with 32 saves, Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist, and Couture added two assists against Calgary.
“We’ve got to build on this,” DeBoer said. “We’re not close yet. We’re 2-4, so we’ve got a long way to go and our game has a long way to go. At least we are starting to look like a team.”
Carolina will be playing the second half of a California back-to-back that started with a 2-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots for his 19th career shutout while improving to 15-2-0 in his past 17 regular-season starts.
Martin Necas scored the game-winner for the Hurricanes, who have prevailed in six of their first seven games, including all three of their road contests. They hold a four-point edge over both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division prior to Wednesday’s games.
The 6-1-0 record (12 points) is the best seven-game start to a season in franchise history.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour was asked what was the key to his team’s success so far this season.
“We have to get everybody on board,” Brind’Amour said. “When we have everyone contributing, everyone tugging on the rope the same way, then we have a real good chance to win every night. If we are a little off, a couple guys, then that makes it tougher. Everyone, they don’t have to be great, but they have to be good.”
Mrazek said, “The chemistry is really important in our group. Off the ice, in the dressing room, everybody likes each other. If you are going to bring it on the ice, you need that.”
–Field Level Media