The pair combined for 15 goals in the San Jose Sharks’ eight-game season series with the Kings last season and they picked right up where they left off.
Marleau had three goals, Cheechoo scored twice to end a seven-game drought, and the Sharks routed their Pacific Division rivals 7-3 Thursday night.
“It’s a division game and everybody gets up for those,” said Cheechoo, whose second goal was his 100th in the NHL. “These games are a lot of fun to play.”
Steve Bernier had a goal and an assist, and Milan Michalek had three assists, helping the Sharks earn their third straight road win. Vesa Toskala made 35 saves and improved to 4-0 against Los Angeles.
“Milan’s been pretty much our most consistent player, and he made some great plays,” coach Ron Wilson said. “Bernie was crashing the net, which is what he’s supposed to do. That was probably Patrick Rissmiller’s best game since Holy Cross. He was unbelievable. It’s good to see guys like that get rewarded with points.”
“A lot of things went wrong,” defenseman Rob Blake said. “We’ve just got to be better. It’s plain and simple. You’ve got to work harder and you’ve got to play better as a team.”
San Jose scored its first four goals during a 5:14 span of the opening period against Mathieu Garon, who has surrendered 12 goals on 43 shots over two starts.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we were that good,” Wilson said. “We were kind of sloppy and didn’t seem to have our legs, but we made some nice plays and took advantage of some Kings mistakes. They played aggressive, but we counter-punched them.”
The Sharks, who came in with an NHL-best 24.5 percentage on the power play, converted the first time they had the man advantage after Garon was given a tripping penalty during a goal-mouth scramble. Marleau tied it 1-1 at 11:25 of the opening period after Garon failed to control the rebound on a one-timer by Christian Ehrhoff.
“I was fortunate to be on the end of a few good bounces and a couple of great passes,” Marleau said. “It’s good when things are going like that, especially against a division team. We got ourselves going on that first power play and kept rolling from there.”
Bernier put San Jose ahead to stay at 14:00 with a short backhander.
Ehrhoff made it 3-1 at 16:23 with a screened slap shot from the slot after Garon tried to clear the puck behind the net and Patrick Rissmiller intercepted it.
Cheechoo, who led the league last season with a franchise-record 56 goals, then completed a 2-on-1 rush and scored into an open net 16 seconds later after Garon committed himself to Rissmiller at the left of the crease.
“The effort was there, it was just misguided at times,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “We tried to respond with too much effort. We tried to do too much, and that’s poison against a team like San Jose that moves the puck.”
Marleau made it 5-2 at 10:15 of the second period when he converted Michalek’s pass from behind the net. He extended the lead to four goals just under 8 minutes later, completing his second career hat trick.
Marleau, the Sharks captain, had his other NHL hat trick on April 6, 2002, against Detroit. … Wilson became a grandfather when his daughter gave birth to a girl early Thursday morning in Newport Beach, Calif. … Marleau had six goals in eight games against the Kings last season. Cheechoo had nine. … The Kings honored D Rob Blake for playing his 1,000th NHL game. Blake, in his second stint with the Kings, reached the milestone on Nov. 4 at Phoenix. … Cheechoo’s longest stretch without a goal last season was eight games. … Michalek has 18 points in 17 games. He had 35 points in 81 games as a rookie last season.