– Ron Wilson earned his 600th NHL coaching victory Tuesday night
as the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for a 4-2 victory over
the slumping San Jose Sharks at sold-out HP Pavilion.
SAN JOSE – Ron Wilson earned his 600th NHL coaching victory Tuesday night as the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for a 4-2 victory over the slumping San Jose Sharks at sold-out HP Pavilion.
Wilson, tops among active coaches, produced more victories at the helm of the San Jose Sharks from 2002-8 (206) than with any other club.
While the Maple Leafs captured their second consecutive four-game winning streak, San Jose lost for the fifth straight game. The Sharks remain tied for ninth place in the Western Conference with 47 points, two points behind eight-place Chicago.
San Jose finishes the home stand with games Thursday opposite Edmonton and Saturday against St. Louis. Three of the remaining four games in January prior to the All-Star break are on the road. The lone home date later this month is Jan. 22 against the Minnesota Wild.
San Jose held a 1-0 lead after one period on Patrick Marleau’s 16th goal of the season. After a scoreless second period that saw the Sharks fire 21 shots on net, Toronto awoke for four goals in the third period.
San Jose opened the scoring 10:12 into the first period when Marleau turned a Joe Thornton feed into his 16th goal of the season.
Defenseman Jason Demers was the catalyst for the play that assured the Sharks would not suffer a third shut-out in a span of four games. Demers powered a pass from the left circle in the Shark zone toward the left corner of the Maple Leaf zone. Thornton sped to the puck at the goal line and quickly pulled the puck back to a charging Marleau. The former captain drilled a shot under the glove of goalie James Reimer and into the netting.
San Jose lost the services of rookie Logan Couture at the 9:25 mark of the second period when he went off the ice after being kneed by Toronto’s Colton Orr.
Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading goal-producer this season, keyed the comeback when he scored from the low slot at 3:27 of the third. Toronto attacked with a 2-on-2 rush from right boards. Kessel controlled the puck across the slot toward the left circle before reversing to the right circle and jamming a shot from the right flank past a prone goalie Antti Niemi.
Dan Boyle was left on the ice as Kessel made his successful moves, having tried to slide in front of a potential Kessel shot.
“I can’t go and slide there,” said Boyle. “I was just dumb.
“I had arguably the worst game I’ve had all year. Tonight, I was way off.”
Toronto needed 18 seconds of power play to take a 2-1 lead. Clarke MacArthur skated through the slot and pulled a 10-footer inside the left post at the 7:30 mark.
San Jose regrouped to make it a 2-2 game. Marleau sped through the Toronto defense, put one shot on net that Reimer kicked back before lifting a follow-shot over Reimer’s shoulder at 8:35.
The Sharks had four skaters near the San Jose net when defenseman Dion Phaneuf fired a low shot from the right point. Carl Gunnarsson deflected the puck as it found its way through the traffic and under Niemi for the game-winner at 10:10 of the third.
MacArthur moved atop the Maple Leaf scorers with 36 points this year when he added an empty-net goal with 38.9 seconds to play.