Grier, Sharks continue Islanders’ road struggles

By Michael Duca
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) — The NHL’s worst road team
visited the league’s best home team, and the result was

Third-liner Mike Grier scored two goals and Jonathan Cheechoo
dished out three assists as the San Jose Sharks handed the New
York Islanders their 12th straight road loss with a 5-3 victory
on Saturday.

“We were better on the forecheck tonight,” Grier said. “When we
do that, we are able to get pucks to the net. The last few
games, we haven’t done a good job getting pucks behind the
defense, and especially in the first period, we did well at that

Ryane Clowe, defenseman Dan Boyle and captain Patrick Marleau
also scored for San Jose, which improved to 19-0-2 at the HP
Pavilion this season.

New York fell to 0-11-1 in its last 12 road contests and 5-15-2
overall away from Nassau Coliseum this campaign.

“It’s worse when you look at it like that,” said Islanders
defenseman Thomas Pock, who scored his first goal of the season.
“This one’s over, and we have to look to the next two. They
aren’t getting any easier. We have to go to (Edmonton) and play
hard for 60 minutes and we will get a win.”

The Sharks outshot the Islanders, 11-1, in the first 11 minutes
of play but did not score until 11:20, when Clowe slapped the
rebound of Milan Michalek’s shot past goaltender Joey MacDonald.

San Jose doubled the lead with just 21 seconds remaining in the
first period as Grier netted his sixth of the season on a
wraparound that slid across the crease and off the far goalpost.

The Sharks made it 3-0 at 7:51 of the middle session, when Boyle
skated in from the right point while Joe Thornton completely
blocked MacDonald’s view and slapped a shot just inside the near

“They teach you at a young age to keep your head up,” Boyle
said. “I was going to fire it, but I looked up and saw I had a
couple of seconds. We got a big obstacle in there in the person
of Jumbo (Thornton). He took up a lot of room.”

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New York got on the board with 3:56 remaining as Richard Park
scored his 10th of the season and third in two nights by batting
his own rebound over goaltender Evgeni Nabokov’s right shoulder
from the doorstep.

Nabokov then made a tremendous save on a slap shot by Doug
Weight, stopping the puck with the handle of his stick just
inches in front of the goal line after New York came in on a
2-on-1 rush.

Grier extended San Jose’s lead to 4-1 with 7:38 remaining in the
contest, but Tim Jackman scored a shorthanded goal with 3:10
left and Pock made it a one-goal game with 63 seconds to go.

With MacDonald pulled for an extra attacker, Pock intercepted a
clearing pass at the blue line and fired a shot that sailed past
Nabokov’s glove. It was Pock’s first goal in 36 games dating to
March 31, 2007.

“The only plus for us is that we got some shots and got some
pucks to the net,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “Still,
at the end of the day, they are a pretty tough team to beat.”

The Sharks, who outshot the Islanders, 47-24, hung on as Marleau
scored an empty-netter with 10 seconds left to seal the win.

“We will focus on the lapses that let them back in the game,”
San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s unacceptable that we
are up 4-1 with three minutes in the game and we go on the power
play and give them a shorthanded goal.

“We have a lot of learning to do. We have an empty net with 15
seconds and the puck at the hash marks and we try to pass it.
That’s unacceptable.”

MacDonald tied a career high with 42 saves.

“They threw a lot of pucks on net,” MacDonald said. “But I saw
a lot of pucks, and our D did a good job of letting me see them.
We’ve got to keep working.”