SAN JOSE -- Logan Couture and Bracken Kearns have taken totally different paths into the Sharks lineup.
But both found the back of the net for a third consecutive game Thursday night, and the Sharks kicked off 2014 with the closest thing to a breather in weeks with a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
When it was over, nobody expressed more appreciation for what the 32-year-old Kearns -- who kicked around the minors for more than 600 games and hadn't scored an NHL goal until four nights earlier -- had accomplished than Couture himself.
"I know what he's gone through and I've seen him work so hard every day, and he's a guy that you admire, especially from me," said Couture, 24, drawing a contrast to his own path as a first-round draft pick. "Now he's getting a shot and scores in three straight games. It's incredible. It gives you chills thinking about it."
Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski also scored for the Sharks, while Oilers forward Nail Yakupov's shot late in the second period was the only one of 24 to get past Sharks netminder Antti Niemi, who improved his record to 22-8-6.
The Sharks were looking to rebound from one of their poorest performances of the season, a 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on New Year's Eve that had an unhappy coach Todd McLellan telling each player to look in the mirror and ask, "What do you do?" on the ice.
What they did for one night at least was take control of a game and not let a struggling opponent back into the game after grabbing an early lead.
"We're a team that when you lose one, you like to get back and get the next one," said Joe Thornton, whose two assists raised his NHL-leading total to 41. "We didn't work as hard as we feel we should have in Anaheim and we got back to it tonight."
Against Edmonton, the Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the first period for the 17th time this season with the goals coming just 49 seconds apart.
Thornton's line was having yet another strong shift when Pavelski passed the puck through the slot to Burns, and he beat Oilers netminder Devan Dubnyk at 14:37. On the next shift, Marleau stole the puck from Yakupov along the sideboards, skated into the high slot and fired a 49-foot wrist shot that made it 2-0.
Kearns and Couture padded the lead to 4-0 in the second period with goals that came 87 seconds apart as the Sharks were scoring in bunches.
With linemates James Sheppard and Andrew Desjardins hemming the Oilers in their own zone, the puck popped to Kearns in the high slot and he one-timed it past Dubnyk at 7:18.
"Another lucky one and I'll take it and try to keep it going," Kearns said. "They talked about a quick release against this goalie and that's what I tried to do there."
Couture, who had been mired in an 11-game goal drought before finally breaking through Sunday, kept his current scoring streak alive at 8:45. John McCarthy sent an outlet pass through the neutral zone, and Couture skated in all alone and gave the Sharks a four-goal lead.
"One-on-one on the goalie, I like that," Couture said. "I've had a lot of chances like that against him in particular in the past and I've gone blocker side a lot. I tricked him tonight and went glove."
Yakupov cut the lead to 4-1 at 15:39 of the middle period, but Pavelski offset that one with a rifle-like shot at 5:44 of the third period when he one-timed a pass from Thornton.
Pavelski's goal drew chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A" from the crowed, recognizing the fact that he had been named to the U.S. Olympic team the previous day.
"It was cool," Pavelski said of the tribute. "Obviously it's fun."
Sharks (26-9-6) at Colorado (25-11-4), noon CSNCA