SAN JOSE, Calif. — Patrick Marleau became the second player in NHL history to open a season with four straight multigoal games, striking twice on the power play in the first period in the Sharks’ 4-0 victory Saturday against the Avalanche.
Marleau has scored exactly two goals in each game this season, joining Ottawa’s Cy Denneny in 1917-18 as the only players to open a campaign with four multigoal games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Both of Marleau’s goals came after Ryan O’Byrne took two additional minor penalties for retaliating after San Jose’s Brad Stuart flattened Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog with a vicious hit.
Joe Thornton added a power-play goal in the second period, giving San Jose 10 power-play goals in four games and a franchise record 19 overall.
Thomas Greiss made 24 saves for his first career shutout and Matt Irwin got his first career goal as the Sharks are off to their best start since also winning the first four games in 2008-09.
The Avalanche lost their seventh straight game in San Jose since winning Game 1 of their first-round playoff series in 2010. After killing off 16 straight penalties coming into this game, Colorado allowed goals on San Jose’s first three power plays and another just 11 seconds after killing the Sharks’ fourth man advantage.
San Jose’s power play is in midseason form in this lockout-shortened season, with 10 goals in 24 chances. Marleau has four of those goals as he is off to a scintillating start. He is the first Sharks player ever with four straight multigoal games and has outscored the Sharks’ opponents, who have seven goals in four games.
He has Thornton to thank as the Sharks captain has nine assists and two goals already this season. The third member of San Jose’s top line, Joe Pavelski, has eight assists so far.
The Sharks took more than 12 minutes to get their first shot on goal in the game but managed to take a 2-0 lead after the first period because of stellar special teams play and a big hit by Stuart that changed the complexion of the game.
San Jose’s troubled penalty-kill unit was up to the task early, allowing no shots on two power plays for Colorado. Then San Jose’s dangerous power-play took over late in the period after Stuart’s big hit.
O’Byrne took offense and challenged Stuart to a fight. The Sharks came out of the scrum with two power plays after O’Byrne got hit with an instigator penalty and one for fighting with a facemask. Landeskog left the game briefly before returning for the second period.
Marleau and the Sharks made Colorado pay. Just 28 seconds into the first power play, Marleau whacked at a rebound and knocked it past Semyon Varlamov to give San Jose the lead.
He delivered again on the second power play after a nifty passing display from Dan Boyle to Joe Thornton to Marleau, who tapped the puck in by the side of the net for his fourth straight two-goal game.