SAN JOSE -- No NHL team has earned more points in its home arena this season than the Sharks.
Not the Chicago Blackhawks, not the Pittsburgh Penguins, not any of the three other teams higher in the overall standings than San Jose going into Friday night's action.
At a remarkable 16-1-5, the Sharks have left HP Pavilion only once without a single point this shortened season -- and that was a 5-3 loss to Chicago on Feb. 5, when the Blackhawks were in the middle of their NHL record season-opening streak of 24 games without a regulations loss.
Players and coaches say they have no explanation to San Jose's success at home. But coach Todd McLellan does have the last personnel change and has been more consistently matching a line of Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Marty Havlat against the opposition's top scorers.
San Jose has taken 37 of 44 possible home points with two more games remaining at HP Pavilion before the Sharks finish the season on the road.
The Blackhawks, who have played one fewer home games than the Sharks, and Pittsburgh Penguins have the next best home point totals with 34. Those teams lead the two conferences with 70 and 66 points respectively, while the Sharks have 55.
"He needed a rest more than anything," the Sharks coach said of Irwin. "He's the one defenseman that's played 75 games already, having played in the minors during the lockout."
McLellan, who put Irwin back in the lineup Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild, exaggerated only slightly the defenseman has played 35 games in Worcester and 34 in San Jose this season.
"For him to get a game just to sit and watch and catch his breath, I thought we saw the results of that tonight," McLellan said after team beat the Wild, 6-1. "He was fresher and he made some good plays."