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Special teams corrected for a game
San Jose unloads on Sabres in 5-1 drubbing
10/18/18 - By Mike Lee -

Special teams play has been the Sharks Achilles heal so far this season. Ranked in the bottom third on both the power play and penalty kill, San Jose used special teams on both sides of the puck as a point of emphasis on Thursday night as they returned home for the first time since opening night on 15 days ago. Logan Couture led the charge, as San Jose scored three power play goals en route to a 5-1 drubbing of the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

The Sharks matched the power play by turning aside all 5 penalty situations that they faced, including three in a pivotal opening period.

The Sabres are a team that the Sharks should be drubbing. Buffalo has struggled to score this season, and their 1-goal output matched the abysmal offensive output of their last game.

Kyle Okposo helped San Jose early by taking a high sticking double minor, which setup a pair of Sharks goals. Joonas Donskoi gave the Sharks an early 1-0 lead on the power play by being in the right place at the right time. Erik Karlsson fired a shot on net from the right point that Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton denied with his blocker, but the puck deflected to Donskoi who was parked on top of the left post. The puck hit Donskoi in the chest and bounced into the goal for his 2nd tally of the season.

Couture scored the first of his three goals 27 seconds later on the back end of Okposo's double minor. The Sharks forward used Zach Bogosian as a screen, launching a shot from the top of the left circle that sailed over Hutton's left shoulder.

With all the momentum clearly in their favor, San Jose was poised to add to their lead when Marco Scandella took a slashing penalty right before the 6 minute mark of the period, but San Jose couldn't convert. They turned the tables on themselves by taking a trio of penalties themselves before the period would end.

Jake McCabe cut the Sharks lead in half just 1:35 into the 2nd period when he whipped a hot from the top of the left circle over Martin Jones right shoulder. The Sabres controlled a faceoff in the Sharks zone and when a deflection slid over to McCabe on the left side, the Sharks suddenly let their lead slip.

Both teams settled down the remainder of the period, keeping the 2-1 score in place.

Couture pushed the Sharks lead back to two goals 4:54 into the 3rd period, when he punched home an Evander Kane feed from across the top of the crease. San Jose kept the puck pinned in the Sabres zone, and when Justin Braun fed Kane down low off the right post. The forward tried to put a backhand chance on net, but the puck slid over to the off post where Couture was parked for the easy deposit.

Joe Pavelski scored the 3rd power play goal of the night with just over 8 minutes left in regulation to stake the Sharks to a 3-goal lead. Kevin Labanc fired a shot from the right point that bounced off Hutton, but Pavelski was lurking around the right post for the easy put back.

Couture capped the scoring with his 3rd goal of the game late with an empty net tally. Trailing by three goals, the Sabres elected to pull Hutton with three minutes to play. That only simplified Couture's hat trick quest. Tomas Hertl squeezed past a Buffalo defender up the right wing boards and had a chance for an easy empty-net goal, but he fed Couture on his left wing for the hat-trick assist.

Game Notes:

* Buffalo was irritated by their performance and took it out on the Sharks at the final horn. Zach Bogosian went after Joakim Ryan and caught him with a left that floored the Sharks defenseman.

* San Jose had a big 3rd period that was fueled by the 20 shots they threw at the Sabres in the period. The Sharks finished the game with 30 shots on goal. Every Sharks skater recorded a shot on goal except for defenseman Justin Braun and Brendan Dillon.

* The Sharks will wrap up their quick home stand with a game against the New York Islanders on Saturday night. It will be an opportunity to avenge the 4-0 spanking that New York administered on October 8th.

* Rookie Antti Suomela was 9 for 13 from the faceoff circle to lead San Jose, who won only 47% of their draws against Buffalo.

* Brent Burns and Marc-EDouard Vlasic each logged 25 minutes of ice time.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
BUF 0 1 0 1
SJ 2 0 3 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Donskoi 2 (E. Karlsson, Kane), 3:35, (pp). 2, SJ, Couture 2 (Burns), 4:02, (pp).
2nd period - 3, BUF, McCabe 1 (Skinner, Dahlin), 1:35.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Couture 3 (Kane, Braun), 4:54. 5, SJ, Pavelski 4 (Labanc, Burns), 11:49, (pp). 6, SJ, Couture 4 (Hertl, Meier), 18:13, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Okposo, BUF (high sticking - double minor), 1:45; Scandella, BUF (slashing), 5:54; E. Karlsson, SJ (hooking), 8:09; McCabe, BUF (interference), 11:21; Dillon, SJ (tripping), 15:30; Labanc, SJ (slashing), 18:52.
2nd period - M. Karlsson, SJ (interference), 2:02; Okposo, BUF (slashing), 6:29.
3rd period - Labanc, SJ (tripping), 7:40; Scandella, BUF (tripping), 11:42; McCabe, BUF (interference), 12:51; Bogosian, BUF (roughing), 20:00; Bogosian, BUF (fighting major), 20:00; Ryan, SJ (fighting major), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
BUF - Hutton 38 34
BUF - empty net 1 0
SJ - Jones 25 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
BUF 9 7 9 25
SJ 10 9 20 39
Power Play Conversion
BUF 0 of 5
SJ 3 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Brent Burns
Martin Jones
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,389
Officials
Referees: StLaurent, Walsh. Linesmen: Mach, Galloway.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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