SAN JOSE (AP) — Sharks coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t overly concerned when his team struggled to get wins on an early road trip despite controlling play for much of the time. San Jose was able to put it all together on a two-game homestand that showed what this team could be capable of achieving this season.
Brent Burns scored San Jose’s first goal from a defenseman this season and Logan Couture got his fourth in two games to lead the Sharks past the New York Islanders 4-1 on Saturday night.
The Sharks outscored Buffalo and New York 9-2 in winning both games at home after starting the season with just two wins in the first six games.
“We didn’t get rewarded on the road to start the season, but I knew it was a matter of time if we kept playing that way,” DeBoer said. “We got home here, we’re comfortable, we started to score, we feel a little bit confident. There’s two good home wins for us. We go back on the road again now.”
Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi also scored to help the Sharks avenge a 4-0 loss at the Islanders earlier this month in a game that got testy down the stretch. There were 76 minutes of penalties handed out over the final 24 minutes, with two fights and several other smaller skirmishes.
The Islanders were upset at Burns for what they thought was a slew foot, while the Sharks were angered by a hit from Anders Lee against Evander Kane, among other plays.
“I like that we stood up for ourselves,” Couture said. “I’ll never understand when guys go out down 3-1 with 5 minutes left and try to act tough and start fights. It has no bearing on a game when a game is over like that. It’s good to see us stick up for ourselves.”
Martin Jones made 24 saves to earn his second straight win after opening the season with three regulation losses in his first four starts.
Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders, who finished a 1-3 road trip. Robin Lehner made 37 saves after shutting out San Jose on Oct. 8.
“At times we weren’t really fully engaged as a team, especially in the second. When we had a few mistakes the bench kind of sunk, we didn’t pick each other up and find a way to take the game back,” forward Matt Martin said. “That’s disappointing but I definitely think the third period from a physical and emotional standpoint, it’s a positive that we’re all going to have each other’s backs in here, no one’s going to quit.”
The Sharks came into the season expecting big production from the blue line after acquiring two-time Norris Trophy winning-defenseman Erik Karlsson from Ottawa. Burns also won a Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman and the two are the top scoring blue-liners in the league in recent years.
But neither one had scored a goal until Burns struck in the second period during 4-on-4 play. Shortly after being denied by the post on a big shot, Burns muscled his way in from the boards and beat Lehner from in close with a backhand to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead.
Donskoi had put San Jose ahead earlier in the second when he converted on a rebound after fellow Finn Antti Suomela forced a turnover from Scott Mayfield in the offensive zone.
Couture, who had a hat trick Thursday against Buffalo, added the insurance goal early in the third off a feed from Tomas Hertl.
The teams traded goals in the first period, with Meier opening the scoring after taking a feed from Couture in close. Lehner saved Meier’s first shot with his pad, but Meier knocked the rebound under Lehner’s arm to give him points in five straight.
The Islanders answered in the final minute of the first when Nelson converted on a pass from Josh Bailey.
NOTES: Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier (illness) was scratched and replaced by Tom Kuhnhackl. … Sharks C Joe Thornton missed his sixth straight game with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee.
Sharks: Visit the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
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