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Sharks infirmary roster continues to deliver
SJ downs Buffalo 5-3 on Hertl's big night
11/2/2021 - By Mike Lee
Building on their 2-1 overtime win over Winnipeg on Saturday night, the Sharks returned to action with their AHL heavy roster as the team continues to deal with a wave of players who remain on the NHL's COVID protocol list. Tomas Hertl scored a pair of goal and added an assist to lead the Sharks to a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center. Goaltender James Reimer made 25 saves to earn his 3rd victory in four starts for San Jose.

The upside to the veteran absences that the COVID threat that's been cast over the team, is that the Sharks prospects have seized their opportunities at the NHL level. The Sharks dressed 8 skaters who weren't in the NHL last season, and they are performing.

The Sharks broke the ice 7:25 into the game when rookie Jonathan Dahlen scored his 4th goal of the season. The Sharks threw the puck to the front of the net where Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson was able to make the stop, but defenseman Jacob Bryson elected to mug William Eklund at the top of the crease rather than play the puck. With Logan Couture fighting for control on the right side and Eklund laid out in front of the net, the puck squirted over to the left side where Dahlen collected it and fired it home.

The Sabres answered 83 seconds later when Jeff Skinner fired a shot from the high slot that slipped between goaltender James Reimer and the left post on a delayed penalty. Reimer had to try and find the shot as two Sabres forwards hovered near the crease.

San Jose reclaimed the lead with 7:11 left in the opening frame , when rookie defenseman Ryan Merkley whipped a shot from the right point that found a seam to beat Anderson. The goal was Merkley's first career NHL tally.

Tomas Hertl pushed the Sharks lead to a pair of goals when he scored on a power move 6:13 into the middle period. Rudolfs Balcers fished the puck out of a scrum near the blueline before gliding up the left side and feathering a pass to Hertl on the off wing. Defenseman Robert Hagg inexplicably dropped to a knee to take away a shot from the slot, so Hertl shuffled right before drawing the puck back to his forehand on the left to beat Anderson.

Drake Caggiula drew the Sabres back to a single goal deficit when he scored at 13:33. The centerman unloaded on a blast from the outside of the left circle that sailed over Reimer's left shoulder, catching the upper right corner of the net for his 2nd goal of the season.

Mario Ferraro made it a 4-2 Sharks lead at 6:02 of the 3rd period, when he blasted a shot from the blueline to beat Anderson. There was traffic out in front of the net, but it looked like Anderson had a clear line of sight on the shot.

Tomas Hertl scored a highlight reel goal with 8:14 remaining in regulation, providing San Jose with the breathing room they needed to finish this one off. The Sharks forward split two Sabres defenseman in the slot, undressing defenseman Rasmus Dahlin before powering to the net and slipping the puck around Anderson's right skate.

Skinner scored his 2nd goal of the game with 1:47 to play when he knocked a puck out of the air off the back of Reimer and into the Sharks net.

Game Notes:

* Ryan Merkley's 1st career NHL goal was witnessed by the rookie's mother and two sisters. He commented in an intermission interview that he preferred the NHL game, because "everyone is so good, they're all playing where they're supposed to. It makes it easier to play."

* Mario Ferraro's goal was his first since March 19th. Nick Merkely assisted on the goal, earning his 1st point as a Shark.

* Defenseman Santari Hatakka played the first two periods, but did not rejoin his teammates after the 2nd intermission. The rookie was listed as doubtful after sustaining an injury in the 2nd period.

* Andrew Cogliano took a big hit from defenseman Robert Hagg in the 3rd period, stunning the smaller forward.

* Rookies Ryan Merkley and Jaycob Megna finished with +3 games. Tomas Hertl and Rudolfs Balcers also had big plus-minus games, but the fact that the youngsters are producing like that is remarkable.


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1 2 3 T
BUF 1 1 1 3
SJ 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Dahlen 4 (Eklund, Burns), 7:25. 2, BUF, Skinner 2 (Hinostroza, Hagg), 8:48. 3, SJ, R. Merkley 1 (Barabanov, Hertl), 12:49.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Hertl 4 (Balcers), 6:13. 5, BUF, Caggiula 2 (Hinostroza, Cozens), 13:33.
3rd period - 6, SJ, Ferraro 1 (N. Merkley, Weatherby), 6:02. 7, SJ, Hertl 4 (Balcers, Ferraro), 11:46. 8, BUF, Skinner 3 (Thompson, Asplund), 18:13.
1st period - Weatherby, SJ (tripping), 19:00; Cozens, BUF (hooking), 19:23.
2nd period - Burns, SJ (closing hand on puck), 16:00.
3rd period - Hinstroza, BUF (roughing), 10:15; Weatherby, SJ (cross checking), 10:15.
Shots Saves
BUF - Anderson 27 22
SJ - Reimer 28 25
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
BUF 7 10 11 28
SJ 9 10 8 27
Power Play Conversion
BUF 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Mario Ferraro
Ryan Merkley
SAP Center - 10,059
Referees: McCauley, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Smith, Rody.

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