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
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.
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.
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
* 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
* 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.