For whatever reason, the Sharks are playing
their best hockey on the road. They demonstrated that in Toronto on Wednesday
night, where they battled the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. In a brutal
twist of fate, a late mistake would cost the Sharks after they played one of
their best games of the year. The Maple Leafs forced a high speed level of
play, but the Sharks responded even though they played in Montreal 24 hours
Aaron Dell got his first start of the season for San Jose
while Jams Reimer mends his lower body injury. Dell deserved a better outcome,
after he stopped 29 of 31 shots. The netminder stood on his head throughout the
night, keeping the Sharks in a tight battle with a very good hockey team.
San Jose played well in front of the goaltender, and made opposing
netminder Ilya Samsonov earn the victory.
The game opened with a
flurry of shots directed at Dell, who was making his first start for San Jose
since 2020. With Dell spending the majority of the season with the Barracuda,
it was his first NHL action since last season when he was with Buffalo. The
Leafs book on him was to bite early, so they came at him hard after teh opening
Dell weathered the early storm and settled in. Toronto put 10
shots on net in the opening period, but neither they, nor the Sharks could
score. San Jose squandered breakaway attempts by Radim Simek, Noah Gregor and
Luke Kunin as all three ended their attempts with feeble shots.
Leafs finally got to Dell on their 13th shot of the game when Auston Matthews
redirected a Mac Hollowell feed. Matthews was parked in the slot when Hollowell
uncorked a hard pass from the top of the right circle. The Sharks had turned
the puck over in their own end moments earlier.
San Jose responded 3
minutes later when Matt Nieto one-timed a Logan Couture feed for his 6th goal
of the season. Defenseman Nick Cicek fed Couture on the left side, allowing the
Sharks captain to carry the puck behind the Maple Leafs net. Couture spotted
Nieto on the right side of the slot, where he slid the puck for the quick
chance on net.
Cicek took a hooking penalty at hooking penalty at
8:27, which was followed by a Luke Kunin tripping penalty right as Cicek's
penalty was expiring. San Jose killed both penalties to keep the game tied.
San Jose put up 11 shots in the period to Toronto's 12, but San Jose's
chances were of the dangerous variety. Toronto threw more perimeter attempts.
The 3rd period was a continuation of the fast paced game that Toronto
forced with their up-tempo skating.
Cicek was called for tripping later in the 3rd
period after a Shark had been hauled down on the opposite end of the ice
moments before. San Jose killed that
All there hard work was flushed
down the toilet when an Adam Kerfoot shot kicked off Dell's left pad and kicked
out to Pierre Engvall, who put back the rebound and into the Sharks net.
Defenseman Matt Benning was loose on Engvall and failed to tie up the forward's
stick. It was a brutal mistake that proved fatal for San Jose. Tomas Hertl made
a bad pass attempt that was intercepted just outside the Sharks blueline that
gave the Maple Leafs the chance to bag the game-winning goal.
Marner added an empty-net goal with 1:11 left in regulation after the Sharks
pulled Dell for the extra skater. It took Toronto several attempts to bag the
empty-netter, but when they did, it extended Marner's 18-game scoring streak.
* The Maple Leafs held 21 seconds of silence before
the game for Hall of Famer defenseman Borje Salming who passed away last week
fro ALS. Salming attended a Leafs game weeks before his death to say goodbye to
* Ilya Samsonov made his return to the ice after missing
almost the entire month of November with an injury. The Maple Leafs goaltender
last played on November 5th in a win over Boston.
* Leafs forward
Calle Jarnkrok left the game toward the end of the 2nd period with an
* The Sharks really suffered in the faceoff
circle, losing 31 of 51 draws (39%). Logan Couture was particularly bad, losing
11 of 16 faceoffs.
* San Jose out-hit the Maple Leafs 49-18. Logan
Couture led all skaters with 7 hits. Evgeny Svechnikov and Steven Lorentz added
6 hits each.