SAN JOSE -- Fully aware the seven-game homestand that began Wednesday night likely was their last chance to get their season back on track, the Sharks turned a rematch into a rerun Wednesday night.
San Jose jumped out to an early lead, played strong defensively throughout and thumped the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 for their second win over the Pacific Division leaders in 48 hours.
"We feel like our game's been getting better and better," captain Joe Thornton said. "We feel we're getting our confidence back."
The Sharks were up by three goals before the game was 10 minutes old on even-strength goals by Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau as well as a power play tally by Brent Burns. San Jose added a fourth when Tommy Wingels scored short-handed in the final period, and goalie Antti Niemi made 22 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.
The fact that the victories over the Ducks were the first consecutive regulation wins since Jan. 27 is a strong indication of how badly the Sharks have struggled since winning the season's first seven games. But players sounded hopeful that they could build on the last two.
"We were skating tonight. This team has some speed, and when we show it, we're very effective," said Wingels, who added two assists for the first three-point game of his career.
Coach Todd McLellan was pleased that his team followed the game plan against a Ducks team that has now lost four games in a row after starting the season 22-3-4.
"Anaheim is a very good team. This last little streak here, they've been on their heels to begin games, and we knew we had to get after them right off the bat," McLellan said. "That first shift that Pav had, scoring, set the tone for the next 10 minutes, and we took advantage of it."
But he also knew his team has a tough task ahead 24 hours later when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
"This was nice," McLellan said, "but back to work tomorrow."
The strong showing against Anaheim followed the trade of Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and McLellan acknowledged that his players might be making a statement.
"As we move forward, I think everybody wants to keep the team together, and I think everybody wants to remain a Shark," he said. "Maybe they're trying to show us that right now."
Clowe played at right wing on a third line with Pavelski and TJ Galiardi. Four minutes into the game, he got into a fight with Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen.
"I don't like to tippy-toe my way back, and I missed a lot of time, so I like to get into it right away," Clowe said.
"On the short-handed goal, he sucker-punched me in the face," Boyle said. "It just kind of carried on from there."
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Detroit (17-11-5) at Sharks (15-11-6), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA