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Young Sharks lead to first win
San Jose holds off hungry Sabres in 3-2 victory
10/12/17 - By Mike Lee -

If the Sharks are going to compete with the rest of the Western Conference this season, they'll need their younger players to step up. That type of support was on display on Thursday night as San Jose's third line accounted for all three goals in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center. The win was the first of the season for the Sharks, who struggled to generate much offense in their first two games of the season. Thursday night's win was a cake walk, but it pointed the Sharks in the right direction.

Beating the Sabres isn't reason to start planning for a Stanley Cup parade, but San Jose had to win their first of the season. Buffalo now site winless, having dropped three games in regulation and a fourth in overtime. The Sharks didn't waste any time hitting the Sabres.

Marco Scandella put the Sharks on the power play just 36 seconds into the game after he slashed Logan Couture. The power play didn't exactly take off, but when the second unit took over things changed. Kevin Labanc setup the opening score with 21 seconds left in the man-advantage when he carried the puck near the outside of the right circle and snapping a pass to the front of the left post where Tomas Hertl was parked for the tap in.

The Sharks continued to look good in the first half of the period until a missed assignment on defense helped Buffalo knot the game. The Sabres attacked up the right wing where Zemgus Girgensons dropped a pass to Jack Eichel near the bottom of the right circle. Sharks defenseman Brendan Dillon got lost in the slot, watching the puck and forgetting about Jason Pominville, who slid down the slot and ripped an Eichel feed past Martin Jones for his 3rd goal of the season.

Jones had overcommitted to cover the right post as Girgensons threatened down low. By the time he reacted to Pominville's shot, he was late to slide to his right.

The Sharks youngsters worked a little magic less than 3 minutes later, when Chris Tierney scored his 1st goal of the season at 15:11 of the period. Joonas Donskoi setup the goal by receiving a Timo Meier pass along the end boards to the right of the Sabres goal. Donskoi skated around the back of the net and spotted Tierney trailing on the right side. The young Finnish forward sent a blind backhand pass to Tierney on the right post.

Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner tracked Donskoi, turning his head to look over his right shoulder, never seeing the drop pass. Lehner conceded the right side of the net for Tierney's easy deposit.

Pominville tied the game up once again 6:50 into the 2nd period after the Sharks were caught in the Sabres zone. Jannick Hansen was caught at the Sabres blueline after rookie defenseman Tim Heed had pinched in the Buffalo zone. Eichel carried the puck up the left wing and zipped a pass to Pominville just off the right post. Dillon had committed to Eichel, leaving Pominville uncovered for the tap in past Jones.

That goal combined with a pair of Sharks penalties that were committed 73 seconds apart positioned the Sabres to grab the lead, but a spectacular save by Jones on an Eichel one-timer from the corner seemed to energize the Sharks.

Justin Braun's penalty expired with 9 minutes left in the period, but the Sharks still had to deal with Brent Burns tripping penalty. Jones stood his ground, bailing out Burns and preserving the tie.

The third line gang jumped on an opportunity two minutes later when Meier swept home a Donskoi deflection from the right side of the net. Tierney worked the puck to the front of the net, when Donskoi tried putting a shot past Lehner. The puck bounced off the netminder, landing on Meier's stick.

The flow of the game was completely different than the first two snoozers of the season, because San Jose attacked the net. There was more flow to their game. Part of that may have been influenced by the youth that was injected into the lineup. Heed, Ryan Carpenter and Joakim Ryan were all in the lineup in place of Paul Martin, Joel Ward and Dylan Demelo. Ryan skated 25 shifts, logging 21:24 of ice time.

The old timers reminded everyone of their struggles late in the game when both Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski clanked shots off empty net posts after the Sabres were forced to pull Lehner.

Game Notes:

* Tomas Hertl led the Sharks with 5 shots on goal. Logan Couture and Brent Burns chipped in 4 shots apiece.

* Donskoi, Tierney and Meier combined for 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists). They were the only Sharks with a positive plus/minus.

* The Sharks led in shots and face off wins.


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1 2 3 T
BUF 1 1 0 2
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Hertl 1 (Labanc, Boedker), 2:15, (pp). 2, BUF, Pominville 3 (Eichel, Girgenson), 12:26. 3, SJ, Tierney 1 (Donskoi, Meier), 15:11.
2nd period - 4, BUF, Pominville 4 (Eichel, Girgenson), 6:50. 5, SJ, Meier 1 (Donskoi, Tierney), 14:30.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Scandella, BUF (slashing), 0:36; Heed, SJ (slashing), 18:02.
2nd period - Kane, BUF (elbowing), 3:33; Braun, SJ (tripping), 9:05; Burns, SJ (tripping), 10:18.
3rd period - Scandella, BUF (interference), 7:35.
Shots Saves
BUF - Lehner 26 23
SJ - Jones 25 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
BUF 10 10 5 25
SJ 6 12 8 26
Power Play Conversion
BUF 0 of 3
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Chris Tierney
Jason Pominville
SAP Center - 17,402
Referees: Rank, Hanson. Linesmen: Smith, Gibbons.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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