For an evening, all was right in the world. No
pandemic, no empty arena, Sharks play comeback hockey and win on opening night.
The past two seasons have been unkind to hockey in San Jose, but Saturday night
was like jumping into a time machine and traveling back to the salad days of
Sharks hockey. San Jose overcame a two goal deficit, to upend the Winnipeg Jets
at SAP Center with a 4-3 comeback victory.
Tomas Hertl and rookie
Jasper Weatherby each had a goal and an assist to lead the Sharks. Goaltender
Adin Hill made 20 saves to earn his first win in teal.
Sharks recorded points in the game, but it was Rudolfs Balcers goal with 14:58
remaining in the 3rd period that propelled the Sharks. The 4th year player
punched home a rebound from the doorstep after Timo Meier took two swipes at
pushing the puck past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The tally would give
the Sharks a 2-goal lead, which would play out later in the game when Winnipeg
scored a third goal.
Overcoming 3rd period deficits or holding leads
in the final frame where not strong suits for San Jose the past two seasons,
but the season opener was an opportunity to exercise some of those demons.
Pierre Luc-Dubois staked the Jets to a 1-0 lead 4:20 into the game on
a rebound from the doorstep after former Shark Brenden Dillon bounced a shot
off Hill. Dubois was parked at the top of the crease where he got a backhand
chance on the puck.
The Sharks started the 2nd period on a power play,
but Hill and Erik Karlsson crossed each other up as a puck floated toward the
right post. Hill pushed the puck to the end boards as Karlsson tried gathering
it on his way around the back of the net. Adam Lowry collected it and floated a
pass out front for Andrew Copp, who returned it past Hill.
have been sufficient scoring to bury the Sharks last season, but they responded
when some new comers young and old answered.
New forward Andrew
Cogliano cut the Jets lead in half with a short-handed goal of his own at 3:38
of the middle frame. The winger carried the puck up the left wing before
whipping a shot past Hellebuyck for his 1st tally in teal.
Morrissey holding the stick penalty setup Weatherby's memorable moment 10
minutes after Cogliano scored. Karlsson slid the puck over to the left where
Weatherby gathered it near the left dot. The Sharks rookie snapped a wrist shot
that beat Hellebuyck top shelf, drilling the upper right corner of the net.
Dubois got caught retaliating a Radim Simek hit, taking a bad elbowing
penalty 1:38 into the 3rd period. San Jose capitalized on the man advantage
when Hertl punched home a rebound from the left side. Sharks 1st round draft
pick William Eklund fired a shot from the right side that split Weatherby's
skates. The puck found Hellebuyck's pads, but the puck found Hertl who buried
the chance into a wide open net.
The back-to-back power play goals
were huge gains alone, when you compare how bad the Sharks were on special
teams the past two seasons. New assistant coach, and former Sharks player, John
McLean was brought in to overhaul the Sharks anemic power play. That move paid
dividends at a crucial moment in this contest.
The Balcers goal was magnified when Jansen Harkins
ripped a shot from the left dot after a Logan Stanley shot bounced oddly off
the end boards.
San Jose was able to kill a penalty for too many men
midway through the period, then locked down on the Jets in the final 5 minutes
to earn their first win of the season.
It was nice to see real people
in the arena for an evening, but it was even more important to see the Sharks
turn in a quality performance for the first time in a long time.
* Weatherby and Eklund weren't the only rookies to
make their NHL debut on Saturday night. Forward Jonathan Dahlen also laced up
the skates for San Jose, and turned in a nice debut performance. The son of
former Sharks forward Ulf Dahlen recorded a shot and a hit in 22 shifts,
logging 14:45 of ice time. The trio of Sharks rookies didn't make any glaring
mistakes in their debut, and played solidly for San Jose.
* The two
new veteran forwards, Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino had solid debuts for San
Jose. Cogliano got the Sharks back into the game with his short-handed goal
early in the 2nd period and buzzed the ice all evening. Bonino recorded 4 shots
for San Jose and skated well with Matt Nieto and Kevin Labanc.
Middleton made an important impression with Sharks fans when he dropped the
gloves with Logan Stanley early in the 2nd period. Rudolfs Balcers was hit from
behind, crumpling him after his head bounced off the glass in front of the Jets
penalty box. Middleton immediately responded, going toe to toe with a much
* Recent waiver acquisition Jonah Gadjovich, rookie
defenseman Santeri Hatakka and Alexander Barabanov were scratches for San Jose.
* Former Shark defenseman Brenden Dillon returned to San Jose for the
first time since he was traded to the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline
in 2020. Dillon spent six seasons in San Jose, including their Stanley Cup run