NHL

Marleau and Couture score early, lead Sharks past Oilers

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Associated Press
1/23/2013 2:00:44 AM
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EDMONTON -- The San Jose Sharks' top line is in midseason form just two games into the NHL's abbreviated campaign.

Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist and captain Joe Thornton had three assists as the San Jose Sharks won their second in a row to start the season, defeating the Oilers 6-3 on Tuesday night to ruin Edmonton's home opener.

Logan Couture also had a two-goal night and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle also scored for the Sharks (2-0-0) who got off to a quick 6-1 lead before the first period had ended.

"It's only two games, but we've had a couple of nice wins and put some points in the bank which is important in a season like this," said Marleau, who now has four goals and an assist in two games this season. "My linemates have been playing this year, so it's been up to me to try and play catch-up with them."

Thornton, who now has five assists on the season, said it is important to get off to a good start in a shortened season.

"We started off the season against two teams having their home-openers, which can be tough," he said. "It's not easy battling teams with emotions so high for those games but we handled it pretty well in Calgary and had a great first period to take the fans out of it in Edmonton tonight."

Joe Pavelski, the third member of the Sharks top unit, picked up two assists for four points on the year.

San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said he was happy to see his team score six first-period goals and get off to a much better start than they did in their first game of the season, an eventual 4-1 win in Calgary.

"We talked about having a good start," he said. "Our start in Calgary was ugly. Wer were obviously much better here."

Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz replied for the Oilers (1-1-0).

"That was as bad a first period as we could have had, even in your worst imagination," said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger. "If pain is going to make us a better team, that was a lot of pain right there.

"It was just a complete meltdown through every single player. Sometimes it is better to lose like this than by one goal."

Oilers forward Sam Gagner said there was no excuse for his team's poor start in the game.

"Obviously the fans were so into it to start and it got us all excited and you let your emotions take hold and don't think about the system we're playing," he said. "We got caught running around a bit. In the second and third we settled in, but it was too late."

San Jose struck first on a two-man advantage just three minutes into the game as Joe Pavelski fed it to Boyle at the top of the circle and his blast got past Edmonton's starting goalie Devan Dubnyk.

It was a 2-0 game just over a minute later as the Sharks again capitalized on the power play, this time on a Couture wrist shot that fooled Dubnyk.

Edmonton was able to respond on a power play of its own eight and a half minutes into the opening period as Gagner passed the puck through the goalmouth to a hard-charging Yakupov, who put the puck in the net before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi could get across the crease.

It was the first NHL goal for Yakupov, who was drafted first overall in last summer's 2012 Entry Draft by the Oilers.

San Jose quickly restored its two-goal lead halfway through the first as Thornton's no-look pass from behind the net found Marleau, who sent home his third goal of the season.

Just over a minute later it was a 4-1 game for the Sharks as Marleau scored high to the glove side on a quick shot from the slot on another power play with Thornton picking up his third assist of the game.

The first period pounding wasn't over yet, however.

San Jose added two more goals to make it 6-1 after 20 minutes as Couture scored his second of the game on a rebound with just under two minutes left and Vlasic scored on a screened point shot with 40 seconds remaining.

San Jose out-shot Edmonton 17-7 in the first.

Backup goalie Yann Danis started the second in the Oilers' net.

Edmonton got a goal back on a two-man advantage of its own with five minutes left in the second as Schultz, a player the Oilers acquired as a free agent after a league-wide bidding war last summer, scored his first NHL goal to make it 6-2.

The shots closed to 26-24 Sharks after the second period.

Edmonton cut the lead in half three and a half minutes into the third as Hall sent a quick wrist shot while double-teamed that beat Niemi high to the glove side.

Notes: The Oilers came into the game 3-0 in home-openers against the San Jose Sharks, winning in 1993, 2003 and 2008. They were also 19-8-5 in their first home game of the season all-time... It was the first of three meetings between the two teams this season, having split the four-game series last year, with each game decided by one goal... The Sharks entered the contest having won 11 of the last 15 meetings against Edmonton overall and have taken seven of nine at Rexall Place... Oiler forward Ben Eager missed the game, still suffering the ill effects of a fight in the first outing in Vancouver. Magnus Paajarvi took his place in the lineup... The Oilers were also missing defenceman Andy Sutton (knee) and Theo Peckham (hip flexor), forward Ryan Jones (eye) and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (hip)... Absent from the Sharks lineup were forward Jason Demers (wrist injury) and defenceman Brent Burns (hernia surgery)... Free agent forward Scott Gomez continues to skate with the Sharks but no contract had been signed with San Jose as of game time. Gomez, who posted just two goals and nine assists in 38 games with Montreal last season, was bought out by the Canadiens last week.

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