The San Jose Sharks squared-off against the Sabres in Buffalo Thursday afternoon, looking for their first win on the current four-game road trip after falling in Pittsburgh and Detroit.
After two-straight lackluster performances in the losses to the Penguins and Red Wings, the Sharks were looking for a big performance in Buffalo to get back on track.
San Jose came into Thursday night’s contest without captain Logan Couture and forward Lane Pederson, who are both in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. To go along with the COVID-19 protocol losses, James Reimer was also unavailable due to a lower-body injury.
Starting off the game and seeking an early spark, Jonah Gadjovich dropped the gloves with John Hayden only 2:20 into the game. The scrap ended with both linesmen skating into break it up after both players landed several blows.
Matt Nieto broke the ice for the first goal of the game with his 3rd of the season. Nick Bonino won a battle in the corner, before tapping a pass over to Andrew Cogliano behind the net, who quickly slid a pass back in front of the net to a cutting Nieto for the tic-tac-toe one-timer.
Only 1:17 after Nieto gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead, Timo Meier added another with his 14th goal of the season. Meier snapped a rocket of a wrist shot past the glove of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, that rang off the post and in from just inside the blue line.
With 2:36 left in the opening frame, Tomas Hertl netted his team-leading 17th goal of the season to put the Sharks up 3-0 before heading into the dressing room. Alexander Barabanov skated in on a 3-on-1 break, dropping a pass back to a trailing Hertl who ripped a shot past the blocker of Luukkonen.
Adin Hill saved all 8 shots that he faced in the first, looking for his first win since December 7th. The Sharks took an 11-8 shot advantage into the first intermission.
7:56 into the second period, Jeff Skinner put the Sabres on the board after a Sharks turnover in the defensive zone.
Buffalo outplayed San Jose in the middle frame, having a majority of the chances and outshooting the Sharks 9-5. While the Sabres controlled play for most of the period, Adin Hill stood tall in net.
The Sabres dominated the third period, both in time of possession, chances, and shots. Buffalo finished the final frame with a 22-5 advantage in the shot department.
During a late-game Sabres power play, Zemgus Girgensons found a way past Hill with 1:45 left in the game to cut the Sharks lead to 3-2.
Despite the late goal, Adin Hill had a strong finish to his great game in net with a couple of huge saves to secure the win for the Sharks. Hill ended the night with 37 saves on 39 shots.
The Sharks first line had an outstanding game, scoring two of the three goals and creating a plethora of chances when they were on the ice. Hertl led the top line with a goal and an assist.
The Sharks return to the ice Saturday night in Philadelphia to close out their four-game road trip.