SAN JOSE, Calif. — Rookie defenceman Tim Heed stole the show from Patrick Marleau in his return to San Jose.
Heed scored a tiebreaking goal on the power play early in the third period and assisted on Joe Pavelski’s second-period goal to lead the Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night in Marleau’s first game as a visitor in San Jose.
“I feel comfortable out there,” said Heed, who has six points in nine games. “It feels better and better every game. I play with great players out there who make good plays for me. It’s great playing with them.”
Heed scored on a slap shot from just above the faceoff circle with 15:49 to play to give the Sharks their 10th straight win over Toronto. Joel Ward added an empty-net goal for San Jose.
This time it came with Marleau in a Maple Leafs sweater as he returned to the arena he called home for his first 19 seasons in the NHL. Marleau left as a free agent this summer to sign an $18.75 million, three-year contract with Toronto but was welcomed back warmly by a fan base that still adores him.
“It was extremely special to get an ovation like that and see all the signs and everything, just really humbling,” he said. “They showed me great support through my time here. It was humbling to be honoured like that by the Sharks and fans. I’ll never forget it.”
Marleau finished with two shots on goal but didn’t record a point as Martin Jones made 16 saves for San Jose to improve to 7-0 against the Maple Leafs. Jones has allowed just 10 goals in those starts.
Auston Matthews scored in the first period and Nazem Kadri added a goal with 1:10 remaining to cut San Jose’s lead to 3-2. The Maple Leafs have lost four of five and were held to only two shots on goal in a span of more than 31 minutes in the second and third periods.
“We’ve been turning the puck over too much,” Matthews said. “We stop that, we can win. I thought our work ethic and competing were much better tonight. We need to get out of the little funk we’re in.”
Frederik Andersen made 36 saves but had no chance on Heed’s slapper that went into the top corner after Timo Meier had drawn a cross-checking penalty from Dominic Moore early in the period.
The night started with an emotional pregame ceremony for Marleau. The Sharks played a video tribute to Marleau and he received a loud ovation that lasted nearly 90 seconds from the fans, who chanted “Pat-ty! Pat-ty!” Players from both teams tapped their sticks in appreciation as the spotlight shined on Marleau and he waved to the crowd.
“I had a tear in my eye,” said Sharks centre Joe Thornton, Marleau’s teammate for 12 seasons. “You spend so much time with him, he’s like a brother. You spend 13 years with the guy, you create such a big bond with him. It was classy.”
The Sharks controlled play for the first two periods but were unable to translate their 25-11 advantage in shots on goal to a lead on the scoreboard.
The Maple Leafs struck first midway through the first period when Matthews beat Logan Couture to the rebound of a point shot from Nikita Zaitsev and knocked it into the open net for his ninth goal.
San Jose tied it midway through the second when Pavelski deflected Heed’s point shot past Andersen for his third goal.
NOTES: Thornton got an assist on San Jose’s first goal, giving him 1,399 points to move past Jari Kurri for sole possession of 20th place on the career list. … Toronto forwards James Van Riemsdyk (lower body) and Matt Martin (upper body) returned to the lineup after missing one game each.
Maple Leafs: Visit the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Sharks: Host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.