SAN JOSE, Calif. – In the past five days, Dany Heatley faced the team he demanded a trade from and the team he refused to go to and came out on the winning end both times.
Heatley assisted on two goals in his first game against Ottawa since his blockbuster trade to San Jose, leading the Sharks to a 5-2 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night.
“It was an interesting week,” Heatley said. “It’s good to get them over with. It’s good to be back here and get on with things.”
Heatley was vilified in Canada this summer, first for demanding a trade from Ottawa and then for turning down a potential deal to Edmonton. He finally was dealt to the Sharks on the eve of training camp.
He was booed constantly last Friday night during the Sharks’ 5-4 shootout win in Edmonton and then came out on top again in a much-hyped reunion against the Senators.
“I thought he handled it just the way we knew he would,” coach Todd McLellan said. “He was very mature. He faced everybody he needed to face and then he went out and let his play do the rest of the talking.”
Heatley did appear to have just a little extra spring in his step early, putting six shots on goal in the first period as he seemed eager to score against his former teammates.
He finished with eight shots in all, his most in a game since having nine on April 3, 2008, against Toronto. He wasn’t able to score a goal, settling for assists on both of Patrick Marleau’s goals.
“I thought a couple of those were going to go into the back of the net,” teammate Joe Thornton said. “Usually those go in, but I don’t know what they hit. Dany played great tonight. He’s one of the best players in the world. We’re glad he’s on our side now.”
With the two goals in his 900th career game, Marleau passed Heatley for the team lead with 19 goals. Jamie McGinn, Ryane Clowe and Manny Malhotra also scored for San Jose, while Thornton had two assists to up his league-leading total to 32. Backup goalie Thomas Greiss made 25 saves.
The night worked out almost perfectly for Sharks fans, who got to cheer their newest star as he helped lead the team to a win in its first home game since a 7-2 loss to Chicago last week. They also got to salute two of the fan favourites who were dealt to Ottawa for Heatley in September.
Milan Michalek was cheered after scoring both goals for the Senators. Jonathan Cheechoo got a warm ovation when his picture was shown on the video board early in the first period, and heard the train whistles when he touched the puck that were traditional when he played here.
“It was pretty cool,” Cheechoo said. “I played a lot of games in this rink, so it was neat. Yeah, you hear the fans. They were always supportive. The fans were always great to me, so coming back and playing here again so soon was great.”
Heatley surely will get a different reaction the first time he goes back to Ottawa. But for now, he will keep getting cheered in San Jose, where he has been a welcome addition on Thornton’s line with 18 goals to help the Sharks break out to the best record in the league.
Heatley set up the first goal of the game after making a good effort to keep the puck in at the blue line. He got it to Thornton, who fed Marleau for the opening score.
Heatley assisted on another goal by Marleau in the second period when his backhand shot was deflected onto the stick of Marleau, who beat Brian Elliott to make it 3-1 just 4 seconds after Matt Carkner came out of the box for a delay-of-game penalty.
Michalek also came out with a little extra pep in his step, scoring on a backhander in the first period and converting with a one-timer off a feed from Daniel Alfredsson on the power play in the second to cut San Jose’s lead to 4-2.
“I would have exchanged the two goals for two points. That would have been better,” Michalek said. “It was a little weird during warmups, but then I was able to just play.”
NOTES: The power-play goal was just the third allowed in 11 home games this season by the Sharks. … Elliott made 28 saves. … Half of the 24 shots in the first period were taken by the three players from the big deal, with Heatley having six, Michalek four and Cheechoo two. … Senators D Anton Volchenkov returned to the ice for the first time since dislocating his right elbow on Oct. 28.