It was a special occasion in Newark Friday evening. Jumbo Joe Thornton was playing in his 1000th NHL game. Both teams made it a classy affair – the Devils displaying big Thornton’s achievement on the Jumbotron (what a pun) and Todd McClellan starting Colin White in his return to New Jersey.
(Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
The Sharks sure didn’t start off Jumbo’s 1000th game on a good note. Though they took their usual shot advantage through the first two periods, it was the Devils who put their mark on the scoreboard first.
After a few unsuccessful power play attempts for both teams, Kovalchuck found Elias on a beautiful cross-ice pass right through the Sharks box. With Niemi sprawled, the Czech international had only to lift his shot for an easy first goal.
Murray (Douglas) took the gloves, helmet and elbow pad off, after a member of the Devils slew-footed Boyle, against Eric Boulton but in an unusual turn of events found himself the loser of the slugfest.
The Sharks, however, took a power play into the first intermission. To the chagrin of Sharks fans, and I’m sure the players, Devils captain Zach Parise stole an errant pass in his own zone and raced back toward Niemi unabated. Burns tried to slow him down by reaching over Parise’s shoulder but ended up giving the young forward a penalty shot.
Parise calmly took his opportunity five hole and New Jersey were happy to take a shorty into what looked more and more to be like their 4th straight win. Funny, then, that all game Randy and Drew (CSN Bay Area’s Sharks announcers) spoke about how well the Sharks performed in the second period all season.
After a turnover in neutral ice, Thornton took the puck across the blueline and, when his passing angle was cut off, took the puck to the goal himself and beat Hedburg with a quick snapper.
Team Teal continued to pound the Devils second-string netminder throughout the second period and it finally paid off. Couture stopped a clearing attempt along the boards and after a scramble in front of the net, Ryane Clowe came away with his second goal of the season.
Late in the third, David Clarkson and Colin White get tangled up at the Sharks blueline, leaving Clarkson alone in front of Niemi for an easy goal. But the Sharks capitalize with an extra forward on the ice as the puck Jumbo shoves to the net pops out in front and right to Mr. Clutch Pavelski’s stick for the tying goal.
Kovalchuck made the shootout look easy but after consecutive saves by Niemi and consecutive goals by Handzus and Clowe, the Sharks walk away with only their second (but still huge) victory of the year. Team Teal will face Boston tomorrow before continuing their road trip against the rest of the New York area teams.