SAN JOSE -- His Sharks had just survived a late push by the New Jersey Devils and held on Saturday night for a 2-1 victory.
And while coach Todd McLellan liked the outcome and the fact his team got off to another strong start, he wasn't too happy with the way things went downhill as the game wore on.
"Went from a shoot game to a cute game, is basically the way I put it," McLellan said. "We had some rushes, some 2-on-1s, some 3-on-2s where we wanted to get pretty and didn't shoot the puck, and they countered and came back."
First-period goals by Scott Hannan and Tyler Kennedy staked the Sharks to a 2-0 lead that held up until almost midway through a third period that saw the Devils cut the lead in half when Patrick Elias scored on a power play at 8:10.
Ultimately it took a big save by goalie Antti Niemi on a one-timer by New Jersey forward Peter Harrold with 30 seconds left to preserve the victory.
"Within the last minute to go, I thought they could have scored two," Joe Thornton said. "But Nemo played great down the stretch. That's what he does for us."
Thornton himself was active much of the night as Brent Burns, playing his second game after missing 13 with a facial injury, played with more abandon than he had Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In fact, it was Burns' hit on Devils defenseman Adam Larsson that started the sequence that led to Hannan's goal at 4:25 of the first period as his shot from the left point beat Devils veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who was screened by Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl.
The lead grew to 2-0 about 10 minutes later when Marty Havlat ended a six-game point drought with a quick no-look pass from behind the New Jersey net to Kennedy, who one-timed it past Brodeur.
"Yeah, I don't know how he saw me, but he definitely saw me," Kennedy said of Havlat. "I tried to go down the pipe and he made a great pass."
The two goals continued a season-long trend for the Sharks, who have now outscored opponents 32-12 in the first period.
Neither team could score in a second period that showcased the puck-handling skills of Brodeur, who also proved that his glove is as quick as ever when he robbed Logan Couture when he was all alone with the puck just outside the New Jersey crease at 6:38.
"I got a lot of wood on it. I should have stayed away from his glove, I guess," Couture said. "Watching a lot of hockey as a kid, I've seen him do that to a lot of players. I would have liked to score one on him, but he made a big save."
The Sharks also failed to add to their lead while going 0 for 3 on power-play opportunities, and that was a sticking point for McLellan.
"Our power play gave them life and it sucked the life out of us," he said, noting the Sharks would be working on that in their two practices before their next game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Devils were able to capitalize on their only power play for the night as Niemi was screened by former Shark Steve Bernier on Elias' shot.
The game was delayed for several minutes with only 1:31 left after Brodeur dropped to the ice, flat on his back after making a save on Burns as he drove the net. Brodeur, who later said he was hit by the shot in the back of the neck, stayed in the game another 11 seconds before being pulled for an extra attacker.
San Jose improved its record against Eastern Conference teams to 7-1-1 and its record on home ice to 7-1-2.
Los Angeles (15-6-3)
at Sharks (15-3-5),
7:30 p.m. CSNCA