The San Jose Sharks continued their six-game road trip Friday afternoon, heading to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on their first back-to-back of the season, following their win in Ottawa on Thursday.
The game started off with Toronto firing on all cylinders, dominating the first several minutes of play. With constant offensive zone pressure, Adin Hill and the Sharks defense were tested early.
The Sharks eventually found their feet and settled down, but it never felt like they were playing their game during the first period. The Maple Leafs executed their game plan, dominating in time of possession and preventing San Jose from sustaining any offensive pressure.
Adin Hill was remarkable between the pipes during the opening frame, turning away all 11 shots that he faced. Hill made several great saves to keep the Maple Leafs off the board.
Starting off the second period, Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead only 2:31 into the period. Marc-Edouard Vlasic collected his own rebound and took the puck behind the net, where he dished out a perfect pass to Couture in front, who chipped the puck past Michael Hutchinson.
After Couture opened the scoring, the Maple Leafs immediately pushed back with full-force. In a hectic sequence in the Sharks’ defensive zone, where San Jose failed to clear the puck several times, Jason Spezza found the back of the net for Toronto, tying the game 1-1.
Only 17 seconds after Spezza tied the game, Timo Meier gave the Sharks the lead right back with his second goal of the season. Meier, who has been red-hot to start the season, had the puck pop out to him, where he turned towards the net at a tough angle and ripped a shot that went right through Hutchinson.
Following Timo Meier’s go-ahead goal, San Jose started to find their game and put some pressure on Toronto’s defense. Jonathan Dahlen had a high-quality scoring chance that was turned away by a great pad save from Hutchinson.
With the Sharks continuing to sustain offensive zone pressure, Ondrej Kase blocked Tomas Hertl’s slap shot from the blue line and raced to the puck, creating a breakaway. Kase skated in all alone and froze Hill in net with a beautiful forehand to backhand deke, tying the game back up at two.
Just as the Sharks did earlier in the period when the Maple Leafs tied the game, San Jose came storming right back to immediately retake the lead. Only 1:31 after Kase’s breakaway goal tied the game, Erik Karlsson netted his second goal of the season.
Jacob Middleton intercepted a clearing attempt by Toronto at the blue line and immediately sent the puck over to Karlsson, who wound up and blasted a slap shot past a screened Hutchinson. Nick Bonino was parked in front of the net, blocking Hutchinson’s vision.
Shortly after Karlsson’s go-ahead goal, Logan Couture fed a beautiful pass to Jonathan Dahlen in front of the net who, for the second time this game, was robbed by Hutchinson. Dahlen, like the previous three games he’s played this season, was all over the ice making his presence felt throughout the game.
With the middle frame winding down, Adin Hill made back-to-back spectacular saves to preserve the 3-2 Sharks lead heading into the dressing room. Hill made a fantastic glove save on a Wayne Simmonds wrist shot with traffic in front of the net, then directly after, he robbed Michael Bunting with a beautiful left pad save.
Moments into the third period, 25 seconds to be exact, Jonathan Dahlen finally found the back of the net, scoring his third goal of the season to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead. Timo Meier slid a pass to Logan Couture, who centered a perfect pass to Dahlen, who one-timed a shot through Hutchinson’s five hole.
The Maple Leafs, once again, had a big pushback after the Sharks found the back of the net. John Tavares had the puck on his stick with an open net in sight, but when he sent a backhanded shot to the opening, Adin Hill flung his left pad out, closing the gap and robbing Tavares of a goal.
With the game dwindling down, John Tavares found a way past Adin Hill to give the Maple Leafs life heading into the final six minutes. Jake Muzzin sent a pass over to a wound up William Nylander, who smoked a one-timer towards the net that deflected up high off Hill, then bounced off Tavares and into the net.
In an attempt to cushion the lead with two minutes left to play, Erik Karlsson dashed down the ice and chipped a shot off the post that slid towards the goal line, before being saved by the paddle of Hutchinson.
Several seconds after Karlsson’s attempt to ice the game, Timo Meier had an open path to the empty net, but a trailing William Nylander poked the puck away. Morgan Rielly grabbed the puck after it broke free from Meier and advanced a pass up to a wide-open John Tavares.
Tavares skated the puck up and then dumped it back to a wide-open trailing Auston Matthews at the top of the left face-off circle, who one-timed a slap shot that was snagged by the glove of Adin Hill.
With 40 seconds left in the game, Logan Couture put the puck into the empty net to give San Jose a 5-3 lead, that would hold until the final horn.
Adin Hill had a phenomenal game, saving 30 of the 33 shots he faced, including several unbelievable saves. Hill improved to 3-0-0 on the season with a 2.00 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Logan Couture had a huge game with a three point night, recording two goals and an assist. Timo Meier continued his red-hot start to the season with a goal and an assist, pushing his point streak to four games. Erik Karlsson also extended his point streak to four games with his goal.
The Sharks have now won four consecutive games to start the season and are one of only two undefeated teams left in the NHL.
This new-look Sharks team is not only winning hockey games, but they are also having a lot of fun while doing it. Logan Couture after the game talked about the attitude of the team stating, “I haven’t had fun like this in a long time. It’s a lot of fun with this group.”
The new era of Sharks hockey that kicked-off this season seems to have come with a much-needed culture change after a tough season last year. With the rookies continuing to shine, and the off-season additions all contributing in big ways, San Jose has their eyes on a playoff spot.
The San Jose Sharks will be back in action on Sunday morning in Boston at 10:00AM Pacific Time to take on the Bruins.