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Sharks drop season open in Prague
10/7/2022 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks hit the international stage to kickoff the 2022-23 NHL Season on Friday, playing in the NHL's Global Series against the Nashville Predators. San Jose played a solid 20 minutes to open the game, then stumbled through the next 40, dropping a 4-1 decision to Predators lineup that is superior on paper. The Predators capitalized on their chances and the Sharks inability to generate enough offense set the foundation of the season opening loss.

With the new season came some new early energy. The Sharks played a competitive opening frame and holding a 12-11 edge in shots in the first frame.

It didn't take long for the Predators to grab a lead. Kiefer Sherwood potted the 1st goal of the season just 61 seconds into the game with a put back from the low slot. Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro lost his stick and was only left with the option of trying to body up Sherwood who collected a rebound off a Mattias Ekholm shot. That option couldn't step Sherwood from slipping the puck into the Sharks net as goaltedner James Reimer was caught covering the right post.

Hometown hero Tomas Hertl knotted the game at 1-1 at 8:36 of the period, generating a roar from the O2 Arena crowd. The Sharks were skating on a power play following a Ryan Johansen slashing penalty. Timo Meier and Luke Kunin were trying to grab control of a puck that was pin-balling off skates out in front of the net as Johansen's penalty expired. Kunin got a stick on the puck, sliding it over to Hertl on the right side for a slam dunk shot that beat Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. Meier was credited with the lone assist, even though it was Kunin who setup Hertl.

Nashville regained the lead 1:24 into the 2nd period when Eeli Tolvanen snapped a shot from the left side that beat Reimer to the glove side. Defenseman Matt Benning was late to get down to block the shot, and his positioning may have screened Reimer on the play. Rookie Cole Smith recorded his fist career NHL point with the primary assist on the goal.

Nino Niederreiter pushed the Predators lead to 2-goals at 15:14, when he deposited an uncontested shot from the left side after Dante Fabbro feathered a cross-ice pass from the right wing boards. Reimer tried to square up on the shot but was late to establish position.

The Sharks made things difficult for themselves by committing a rash of penalties in the 3rd period. Rather than pressing to score potential equalizing goals, they were busy trying to defend their own net on down a man for 6 of the first 10 minutes of the period. Nashville offset one of three Shark penalties by taking a cross checking penalty right after Luke Kunin was sent off for interference on Tanner Jeannot, but San Jose had to burn valuable minutes to kill three penalties in the final frame.

Sharks head coach David Quinn pulled Reimer with 1:50 to play, down a pair of goals. That only setup an empty net goal by Matt Duchene, who walked down the ice with Mikeal Granlund and dropped into the empty net.

Game Notes:

* With the proximity of the game, the NHL allowed both teams to bring a pool of reserves with them, That resulted in a playoff like scratch list. San Jose sat Nick Cicek, Evgeny Svechnikov, Thomas Bordeleau, Jaycob Megna, Jeffrey Viel, Markus Nutivaara, William Eklund, Alexander Barabanov and Aaron Dell.

* Kevin Labanc hit the ice for the Sharks after missing the last 54 games of the previous season and didn't exactly light it up. Labanc was a team low -3 in plus/minus and was a non-factor in the offensive zone. Labanc skated on the 2nd line with Logan Couture and Oskar Lindblom.

* Europe's second largest arena did not play to a capacity crowd on Friday. The announce attendance was 16,648, or almost a thousand spectators shy of capacity. Saturday's game is sold out.

* The sharks inability to score was influenced by a series of shots that clanked off iron throughout the game. Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier in particular were bitten by the pipes, ringing 4 shots off the crossbar and posts.

* James Reimer stopped 28 of 31 shots in the contest. He also made several saves that kept the game from being an outright blowout. His 1-on-none stops on Filip Forsberg and Granlund kept the game close early. Tolvanen's goal was goal early in the 2nd period was a result of the Sharks not answering the bell to start the frame.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 0 1
NSH 1 2 1 4
1st period - 1, NSH, Sherwood 1 (Ekholm, McDonagh), 1:01. 2, SJ, Hertl 1 (Meier), 8:36.
2nd period - 3, NSH, Tolvanen 1 (Smith, Glass), 1:24. 4, NSH, Niederreiter 1 (Fabbro, Sherwood), 15:14.
3rd period - 5, NSH, Duchene 1 (Granlund, Forsberg), 19:27, (en).
1st period - Johansen, NSH (slashing), 6:30; Josi, NSH (high sticking), 9:13.
2nd period - Gadjovich, SJ (fighting major). 2:07; Borowiecki, NSH (fightng major), 2:07; Sherwood, NSH (delay of game - puck over glass), 2:34; Benning, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 11:00.
3rd period - Kunin, SJ (interference), 2:53; Granlund, NSH (icross checking), 2:57; Gadjovich, SJ (goaltender interference), 5:18; Nieto, SJ (high sticking), 9:30.
Shots Saves
SJ - Reimer 31 28
SJ - empty net 1 0
NSH - Saros 31 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 9 3 31
NSH 11 15 6 32
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 4
NSH 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Kiefer Sherwood
Tomas Hertl
Eeli Tolvanen
O2 Arena Czech Republic - 16,648
Referees: #12 Justin StPierre, #6 Francis Charron. Linesmen: #82 Ryan Galloway, #70 Derek Nansen.

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