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Sharks get back to winning
Three 1st period goals pace Sharks in Buffalo
1/6/2022 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks limped into Buffalo on Thursday night, to take on the Sabres in their third stop of their current 4-game road trip. San Jose arrived on time, jumping out to a 3-goal lead, before hanging on to win 3-2 and take 2 important points. Adin Hill made 37 saves to help the Sharks fend off a furious comeback attempt by the Sabres who scored a power play goal with 1:45 left in regulation to make it a single goal deficit.

Hill was solid throughout the night, but he played his best hockey in the final 10 minutes, when the Sabres put on a push. The early lead helped the Sharks play a more relaxed game, but things got a little too comfortable when they needed to clamp down on a team that has struggled to score goals this season.

San Jose's three 1st period goals staked the Sharks to a rare 1st period lead.

The Sharks 2nd line of Matt Nieto, Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino combined to generate the 1st goal of the game at 12:27. The veteran trio worked the puck deep in the Sabres zone, before Cogliano flipped a pass out to the front of the net where Nieto was able to one-time it home for his 3rd goal of the season.

Timo Meier made it 1-0 San Jose just 77 seconds later when he sent a blast from the left wing boards near the top of the circle. The shot clanked off the right post, beating Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The goal was Meier's 14th of the season.

Tomas Hertl pushed the Sharks lead to 3 goals with 2:36 left in the opening period. Alexander Barabanov carried the puck up ice on a 2-on-2 situation with recently recalled defenseman Ryan Merkely on his left. Barabanov dropped in the high slot to the trailing Hertl, who picked a corner and sent a wrist shot past Luukkonen for his 17th goal of the season.

Not surprisingly, the Sabres came out with more energy to start the 2nd period. They would capitalize on a defensive gaff by the Sharks who collapsed a pair of defenders on a single player along the right wing boards. Skinner gathered a Sharks turnover on the play before curling to the slot and roofing a shot that beat Adin Hill for his 11th of the season at 7:56.

The commitment to defense missed some details in the final 20 minutes. Buffalo out-shot the Sharks 22-5 in the 3rd period. Hill denied shot after shot, but a questionable Jaycob Megna tripping penalty with 2:09 left in regulation backed the Sharks up against a wall.

With Megna in the box, the Sabres pulled Luukkonene for the 6-on-4 advantage. Zemgus Girgensons punched home a rebound chance from the left side after Tage Thompson clanked a shot off the right post. The puck kicked out perfectly to Girgensons who had Hill dead to rights.

San Jose could not get the puck out of their own end after the ensuing faceoff, which led to some nervous moments as the game closed out.

Game Notes:

* James Reimer and Erik Karlsson were scratched from the game, but will likely both land on the injured reserve list. Both are suffering from lower body issues.

* Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup after missing the last 3 games while on the NHL's COVID protocol list. The defenseman skated 26 shifts and logged 24:009 of ice time. He recorded 2 shots on goal, 3 hits and 2 blocked shots in the game.

* Defenseman Marc0Edouard Vlasic returned to the lineup after being benched for the first time in his career on Tuesday. Vlasic was a +1, but did take a delay of game penalty in the 2nd period.

* Rookie defenseman Ryan Merkley was recalled from the Barracuda and skated 19 shifts, logging 13:46 of ice time.

* From the former Shark files, Joe Thornton played in his 1700th NHL game, becoming the 6th player in league history to reach that milestone.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 3 0 0 3
BUF 0 1 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Nieto 3 (Cogliano, Bonino), 12:27. 2, SJ, Meier 14 (Hertl, Ferraro), 13:44. 3, SJ, Hertl 17 (Barabanov), 17:24.
2nd period - 4, BUF, Skinner 11 (Olofsson), 7:56.
3rd period - 5, BUF, Girgenson 7 (Thompson, Dahlin), 18:14, (pp).
1st period - Gadjovich, SJ (fighting major), 2:20; Hayden, BUF (fighting major), 2:20.
2nd period - Skinner, BUF (tripping), 13:58; Vlasic, SJ (elbowing), 17:44.
3rd period - Cogliano, SJ (cross checking), 9:03; Megna, SJ (tripping), 17:51.
Shots Saves
SJ - Hill 39 37
BUF - Luukkonen 21 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 5 5 21
BUF 8 9 22 39
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 1
BUF 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Tomas Hertl
Adin Hill
Jeff Skinner
KeyBank Center - 8,117
Referees: #4 Wes McCauley, #30 Kendrick Nicholson. Linesmen: #81 Ryan Daisy, #70 Derek Nansen .

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