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Morgan Hill
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September 30, 2023

NHL: Marleau, Sharks rally to win home opener

SAN JOSE – Phoenix, the defending Pacific Division champion, struck for two goals in the third period Thursday night to put the host San Jose Sharks in a 3-1 hole.

San Jose (3-3) responded with four unanswered goals to pull out a 5-3 win, taking the division lead with six points. Patrick Marleau scored two goals for the third straight game.

The six-game home stand continues this weekend. Colorado comes to HP Pavilion on Saturday for a 1 p.m. showdown. The Vancouver Canucks play the Sharks on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Coyotes (1-3) turned a power play into a 2-1 lead at 5:01 of the third.

Antoine Vermette scored his second goal of the season to give the Sharks their first third-period deficit of the year. Phoenix moved to 3-1 when Kauri Korpikoski’s shot from the left boards slipped behind goaltender Antti Niemi at the 6:28 mark.

San Jose needed less than 7 minutes to erase the deficit.

Defenseman Matthew Irwin keyed the first San Jose goal of the period. Joining the rush, Irwin dipped behind the Phoenix net to pull the puck toward the left circle to Joe Thornton. A soft pass to Marleau in the low slot allowed Marleau to jam the puck into the open net at 9:15 of the period. Irwin’s assist was his first NHL point.

Martin Havlat scored the equalizer at the 13:06 mark. Ryane Clowe’s blast from 15 feet out was pushed to the endboards. Havlat secured the puck, first shoving it toward goaltender Jason LaBarbera’s right skate before pulling the loose puck inside the left post for his second goal of the year.

Marleau was denied by LaBarbera of a go-ahead goal at the 18-minute mark. Given a second chance after Thornton stole the puck in the neutral zone and passed ahead to Joe Pavelski, Marleau snapped Paveski’s cross-ice pass inside the right post for the game-winner at 18:07.

“That was a pure goal-scorer’s goal,” Thornton said of Marleau’s second goal.

Thornton added his first goal of the season with an empty-netter with 2.8 seconds left. Thornton finished with four points. Both teams finished with 35 shots on net.

Two days after exploding for six goals in the first period at Edmonton, the Sharks came up with one goal in the first period against Phoenix while posting a 15-9 edge in shots.

San Jose had 1:21 of 5-on-3 power-play time early in the opening period without finding the net. When the Sharks had another power play opportunity, the first unit needed only five seconds to take a 1-0 lead.

After Thornton won the face-off at the left dot, Pavelski controlled the puck along the blueline before directing a hard shot toward the net. Logan Couture, positioned at the crease in front of defenseman Oliver Eckman-Larsson, was able to redirect the shot inside the left post at 19:22 for the center’s third goal, and sixth point, of the campaign.

Thornton’s assist, his sixth of the season, left him alone in 58th place in the NHL record book with 1,084 points.

The Coyotes pulled even at 7:11 of the second period on Steve Sullivan’s fourth goal of the season with Phoenix on a 5-on-3 power play.

After San Jose’s T.J. Galiardi was called for a 4-minute high stick at 4:16 of the second, Andrew Desjardins was hit for a 2-minute high stick at 5:22. San Jose’s trio of defenders, Douglas Murray, Brad Stuart and Michal Handzus, kept the Coyotes off the board for the first 1:48 of the Desjardins penalty. Sullivan converted the Coyotes’ sixth shot of the penalty time on Galiardi, lining a low shot from a tough angle past Niemi.

The Coyotes were coming off a 5-1 win over Columbus on Wednesday. After being limited to nine shots on net in the first 20 minutes, Phoenix came up with 13 shots in the second period to hold a 22-17 advantage coming into the second intermission.

LaBarbera made his first start of the year between the pipes for the Coyotes. LaBarbera came on in relief of Mike Smith in Wednesday’s game, playing the final 49 minutes to earn credit for the win. Chad Johnson was the backup goalie against the Sharks.

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