Sharks Run Old Coach Out of Town

Sharks move to 21-3-1 start

Although the San Jose Sharks were consistently good under coach Ron Wilson, they've been even better since he left.

Yet Wilson knows better than anybody that regular-season success isn't worth much in San Jose any more -- not even when it matches the best start to a season in NHL history.

Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists in San Jose's four-goal first period, and the Sharks trounced Wilson's Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Tuesday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

"From what I've seen, this is easily the best team in the league," Wilson said. "If we somehow could have survived maybe the first 10 minutes of the game, we would have found an equilibrium, but it was over by then. That was one where you throw the white towel in the corner, (like) in a boxing match."

In other NHL games Tuesday night, it was: Florida 5, Washington 3; Philadelphia 4, Tampa Bay 3 in overtime; Montreal 5, Atlanta 4; Dallas 3, Calgary 1; and Phoenix 4, Los Angeles 2.

Wilson is the winningest coach in Sharks history with 206 victories but was fired last May after San Jose's third straight second-round playoff exit in his 4½ seasons. He got the welcome he expected from the burgeoning NHL powerhouse he left behind for new coach Todd McLellan, who has propelled the Sharks to a 21-3-1 start.

For Wilson, winning in San Jose "wouldn't have made my season, or anything like that," he said. "It's one game, and I've coached 1,100-and-whatever games. Sure, you'd like to do better than we did tonight, but what are you going to do?"

Not much against the Sharks, who haven't lost since Nov. 11, when Nashville beat them in overtime in their only home defeat. San Jose is 13-0-1 at the Tank, the only remaining club without a home loss in regulation.

Devin Setoguchi, Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored early goals for the Sharks, who matched Montreal's 43 points after 25 games in 1943-44, when they went 20-2-3. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots and Joe Pavelski added a short-handed goal in the third period for the Sharks, who had a noticeable jump in their skates with Wilson back in town.

"Guys were definitely motivated to play against the old coaching staff," said Setoguchi, a rookie last season under Wilson. "I definitely felt a little jump out there. You don't want Ronnie bragging."

Wilson and former Sharks assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler got a standing ovation when they appeared on the scoreboard early in the game, but Wilson didn't see the tribute.

"I was licking my wounds at that point," he said. "It wasn't fun being on the bench in the first period."

San Jose has earned a point in 23 straight regular-season home games.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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