SAN JOSE Brad Stuart was brought back to San Jose because the Sharks needed a hard-hitting defenseman and that's what he was Saturday.
Stuart flattened Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog at 15:35 of the first period, setting in motion events that sparked the Sharks to a 4-0 victory that kept their record unblemished four games into this abbreviated season.
Patrick Marleau led the offense with two goals for his fourth multiple-goal game to open the season something that hadn't been done in the NHL since 1917. Backup goalie Thomas Greiss had 24 saves for his first career shutout.
But it was Stuart's hit that was the game's key moment.
"I fully expected him to pick his head up, but he didn't," Stuart said of the 21-year-old Landeskog. "At that point, he was pretty vulnerable, but I just tried to make a good, solid hit. I'm not trying to hurt anyone or anything, but when a guy doesn't see you coming, it's going to look pretty bad."
Before Landeskog could get up, Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne sought Stuart out and was swinging away. Both players got five-minute fighting majors, but O'Byrne drew an extra four minutes in penalties two for instigating, two for fighting with a face mask and the automatic 10-minute misconduct.
Replays showed Stuart hit Landeskog with his shoulder, but the initial contact appeared to be the head. If the NHL sees it that way, the play could be reviewed for supplemental discipline.
"I thought it was a hard hit, but I thought it was a clean hit," said Landeskog, who left the game after the hit, but returned for the second period.