EDMONTON – The San Jose Sharks finally feel they have their game back.
Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists as the Sharks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 on Saturday.
Dany Heatley, Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, John McCarthy and Dan Boyle also scored and Joe Thornton had three assists for the Sharks (3-2-1).
Thornton said the Sharks are finally starting to feel like they are in the flow after having an irregular start to the season. They opened the season with a pair of games against Columbus in Sweden, then came back to North America and played just three games over two weeks.
“It was tough coming back,” Thornton said. “We had a whole week off. It was a little strange and I think our timing was off. Now we are playing games and starting to read off each other and getting the rust off. It’s nice to be playing some games now.”
Coach Todd McLellan agreed that the Sharks needed to get back to a more normal schedule.
“Players have an innate rhythm in them during the winter,” he said. “As a team we haven’t been able to do that. After tomorrow we will have played four games in six nights and have established that rhythm and that routine and it will certainly help us.”
Jordan Eberle replied for the Oilers (2-4-0), who are now on a four-game losing skid after starting the season with a pair of victories.
“We took some penalties and they took advantage of that,” Eberle said. “They have a pretty good power play over there. Turnovers were also an issue, we turned the puck over a lot and we weren’t getting in on the forecheck.”
Oilers head coach Tom Renney said his young team can’t start to use its inexperience as a crutch when times get tough.
“We’re not going to hang our head on being young and being inexperienced,” he said. “We’re in the NHL. We’re six games in, and while this won’t be the last time we go to school, our intention is to make sure we show people what we are all about too. Anything less than that on any given night is unacceptable.
“We got pushed out of the game and just sort of handed it over.”
The Oilers got off to a quick start with a short-handed goal 1:22 into the game. Eberle fought off Patrick Marleau on his way to the net and undressed Sharks starter Antero Niittymaki for his second highlight-reel goal of the season.
McLellan actually thought that the goal jolted his team out of a slow start.
“It woke us up a little bit,” he said. “It didn’t look we were overly prepared to play but then we got our game back.”
San Jose tied the game with 3:30 remaining in the first period as Heatley deftly tipped a Pavelski power-play point shot past Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead in the second period as Couture stripped the puck from Oiler defender Jim Vandermeer behind the Edmonton net and sent it in front to Jamie McGinn. Khabibulin made the initial stop but Couture backhanded in the rebound.
San Jose took a two-goal lead with just over a minute left in the second on another power play as Pavelski batted his own rebound out of the air and into the Oiler net. The Sharks also rang two shots off goal posts in the second period.
San Jose took control of the game for good with two goals 20 seconds apart before the third period was five minutes old. Pavelski faked a shot in tight before sending it to Clowe for the tap in, then Boyle scored on a point shot traffic to make it 5-1 on San Jose’s third power-play goal.
The Sharks added to the goal total with five minutes left in the third period. McCarthy put the rebound of a Torrey Mitchell shot past Khabibulin from in close.
With the win the Sharks have a 3-0 start on the road for the first time since joining the NHL in 1991.
“It’s a nice feather in our cap,” Thornton said. “It’s nice to get a franchise record, obviously.”
The Sharks conclude a three-game trip on Sunday in Calgary while the Oilers next game is also against the Flames, on Tuesday in Calgary.
Notes: It was the first of four meetings between the two clubs this season…Eight of the Oilers next 10 games are on the road…Khabibulin got his sixth consecutive start, one of only five goaltenders to have played every gamefor his team this season…Oiler defenceman Jason Strudwick got his first start of the season with Theo Peckham nursing an injury…Sharks captain Joe Thornton came into the game with four points in five games but sitting at minus-7, among the worst in the league…Patrick Marleau is still one point shy of 700 in his NHL career.