Marleau’s 207th goal eclipsed Owen Nolan’s total and helped beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Thursday night. Nolan played in 115 fewer games for the Sharks than Marleau, who was the second overall pick in the 1997 behind current linemate Joe Thornton.
“It shows I’ve been here for a little while,” said Marleau, who will find out Saturday whether he will be joining teammates Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo at the All-Star game. “Those are nice things to have, but getting better as a team is our main goal right now.”
Mark Bell and Milan Michalek scored the tying and go-ahead goals 4 1-2 minutes apart in the second period, rookie Ryane Clowe also scored for the Sharks with an assist from Marleau, and Vesa Toskala posted his fourth straight victory with 22 saves.
Patrick Rissmiller scored into an empty net with 1:26 to play and also assisted on Marleau’s goal, helping the Sharks win for the fourth time in five games.
Rookie Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist and Michael Cammalleri also scored for the Kings, who didn’t exactly get a vote of confidence from coach Marc Crawford after the game.
“I didn’t find too many things to praise our club about,” Crawford said. “We’re sorting through the guys that won’t do the things we need to have them do, and they won’t be here. That’s the way it will be, plain and simple. You’ll figure out who those guys are, because they’ll be gone.”
The game featured a matchup of the NHL’s top power play and the league’s second-worst penalty-killing team. To no one’s surprise, the Sharks capitalized on Sean Avery’s slashing penalty to grab a 2-1 lead at 12:19 of the second. Mathieu Garon stopped Cheechoo’s backhanded wraparound attempt, but couldn’t control the rebound and Michalek backhanded the puck over Garon’s left shoulder for his 12th goal.
Marleau made it 3-1 with 62 seconds left in the period, converting another rebound for his 12th goal of the season after Garon made a glove save on rookie Joe Pavelski.
“I’ve watched Patty from the start and he’s always been a quiet kid – but he’s turned into a great leader on this team,” Scott Hannan said. “It’s a great honour for him. He comes out hard to play every night. He plays against other teams’ top lines and he’s proven himself time and again, year in and year out.”
Clowe scored San Jose’s fourth goal on a deflection of Doug Murray’s slap shot from the left boards. It was the sixth goal in four games for the 24-year-old left-wing after missing the previous 14 games because of foot and groin injuries. He had his first career hat trick last Saturday against Columbus.
“Inside of 10 feet, he’s deadly, and we’ve known that,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “He’s worked hard and he’s earning his chance. And if he’s going to score like that, I’m going to keep giving him a chance.”
Bell’s sixth goal, a short wrist shot that beat Garon to the glove side, made it 1-1 at 7:48 of the second. It came just nine seconds after he finished serving a tripping penalty.
“We had a little bit of a slow start, we didn’t get our legs going for about 10 minutes and Tosc had to make a couple of big saves,” Wilson said. “But the second half of the first period and the whole second period, we controlled the game. We knew if we put some pressure on their goaltender, it was a matter of time that we’d get scoring chances. And we buried them tonight.”
The Kings got the man advantage for the first time after Christian Ehrhoff was sent off for hooking Dustin Brown 57 seconds into the middle period, and Lubomir Visnovsky hit the left post with a 45-foot slap shot 30 seconds later.
The Kings shook off that bad break and got a huge break a few minutes later. Ehrhoff moved the puck out from behind his net, but put his attempted clearing pass right on Kopitar’s stick. Brown’s slap shot was wide of the net, but Kopitar got it out in front and Cammalleri slid his 16th goal under the sprawling Toskala at 5:02.
Notes: The Sharks have played only four of their last 16 games on the road. Two of them have been in Los Angeles. … The Kings, who have played a league-low 18 road games, are at St. Louis on Saturday to begin a 14-game stretch that will include 11 games away from Staples Center. … San Jose has 15 power play goals in its last five games. … Kopitar has 15 points in his last 14 games.