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
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.
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.
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.