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All was right for an evening
Sharks open 2021-22 with a come-from-behind win
10/16/21 - By Mike Lee
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.

Ten different 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.

That would 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.

A Josh 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.

Game Notes:

* 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.

* Jake 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 larger Stanley.

* 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 in 2016.


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1 2 3 T
WPG 1 1 1 3
SJ 0 2 2 4
1st period - 1, WPG, Dubois 1 (Dillon, Pionk), 4:20.
2nd period - 2, WPG, Copp 1 (Lowry), 1:09, (sh). 3, SJ, Cogliano 1 (Couture, Burns), 3:38, (sh). 4, SJ, Weatherby 1 (Karlsson, Labanc), 13:17, (pp).
3rd period - 5, SJ, Hertl 1 (Weatherby, Eklund), 3:25, (pp). 6, SJ, Balcers 1 (Meier, Hertl), 5:02. 7, WPG, Harkins 1 (Stanley, Morrissey), 13:28.
1st period - Labanc, SJ (holding), 18:29; Pionk, WPG (high sticking), 19:37.
2nd period - Eklund, SJ (tripping), 3:23; Lowry, WPG (boarding), 6:44; Stanley, WPG (fighting major), 6:44; Middleton, SJ (fighting major), 6:44.
3rd period - Dubois, WPG (elbowing), 1:38; Pionk, WPG (roughing), 5:02; Schiefle, WPG (roughing), 5:02; Hertl, SJ (roughing), 5:02, Bench SJ (too many men), 10:38.
Shots Saves
WPG - Hellebuyck 31 27
SJ - Hill 23 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
WPG 10 6 7 23
SJ 6 11 14 31
Power Play Conversion
WPG 0 of 3
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Jasper Weatherby
Andrew Cogliano
SAP Center - 16,137
Referees: Rehman, StLaurent. Linesmen: Rody, Gibbons.

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