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NHL Road Warriors get off to good start - sort of
Opener should have been won in OT, but the win is nice
1/14/21 - By Paul Krill -

The Sharks are looking like they could become the NHL's version of the Port Ruppert Mundys, the fictional baseball team in Phillip Roth's "The Great American Novel," who had to play all their games on the road. Given the Covid-19 situation in Santa Clara County, we don't know when or if the Sharks will be playing in the confines of SAP Center this season.

Thus, they began the season on an eight-game road trip on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., pulling off a shootout win, 4-3, over the Arizona Coyotes. Of course, we could very well end up with the Sharks, like the 49ers before them, having to play "home" games on the road, too.

It all got off to a rousing start Thursday, with the Sharks taking a 2-0 lead in the first period and holding the Coyotes off the board until the second period. Evander Kane, who already had two assists, scored a nice goal to put the Sharks up 3-1 with about eight-and-a-half minutes left.

Then, the Sharks did what we have seen them do so often in recent years - they coughed up the lead, letting in two goals, including one with about three seconds left. Sharks broadcaster Curtis Brown pointed out that the third Coyotes goal should not have happened, since all the Sharks needed to do was clear the crease - a two-minute penalty of some sort with three seconds left wouldn't have mattered, anyway, if the Coyotes didn't tie the score.

Then, the Sharks in the overtime get what amounted to more than two minutes of a four-on-three advantage, but they couldn't score. While goals by new Sharks Ryan Donato and Logan Couture sealed the deal in the shootout, the game should never have gotten that far. The Sharks should have finished the job in regulation. But it is what it is and we'll take the two points.

I'm thinking that the Sharks could surprise some people. With little to no expectations placed on them this season after last season's disappointing campaign, they might turn out to be the surprise of the league. We'll see. Regardless, it was nice to finally see some Sharks hockey after 300+ days without it. The last time we saw the Sharks in March 2020, the Covid-19 emergency was just being put in place.

The virus is still a problem, obviously, and we might have to settle for the TV as far as seeing the Sharks this year. (Can't believe I haven't been to the arena in more than 10 months. It just doesn't seem that long.) If the Sharks can get topnotch play all season from players like Tomas Hertl (two goals on Thursday), Evander Kane, and the rest, the Sharks could vault their way back into the upper echelon of the league. Martin Jones' play in goal on Thursday also was encouraging. So, let this shortened season continue on.



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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
SJ 2 0 1 0 1 4
ARI 0 1 2 0 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Hertl 1 (Kane, Couture), 12:43, (pp). 2, SJ, Hertl 2 (Leonard, Kane), 16:51.
2nd period - 3, ARI, Brassard 1 (Garland), 15:46, (pp).
3rd period - 4, SJ, Kane 1 (Leonard, Hertl), 11:24. 5, ARI, Keller 1 (Garland, Chychrun), 16:30. 6, ARI, Kessel 1 (Goligoski, Keller), 19:56.
Overtime - None.
Shootout- ARI: Schmoltz (goal), Garland (miss), Keller (miss). SJ: Donato (goal), Couture (goal).
Penalties
1st period - Hjalmarsson, ARI (hooking), 12:31; Chychrun, ARI (closing hand on puck), 12:58; Burns, SJ (high sticking), 17:29.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (cross checking), 4:33; Kellman, SJ (tripping), 15:05.
3rd period - Labanc, SJ (tripping), 0:41; Ekman-Larsson, ARI (tripping), 5:13.
Overtime - Keller, ARI (tripping), 3:13.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 37 34
ARI - Kuemper 35 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 13 10 7 5 35
ARI 8 9 19 1 37
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
ARI 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Evander Kane
Conor Garland
Attendance
Gila River Arena - 2,274
Officials
Referees: L'Ecuyer, Peel. Linesmen: Gibbons, Nagy.





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