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The Sharks chew up the Sabres in San Jose

Hertl scores two as the Sabres lose second in a row

Buffalo Sabres v San Jose Sharks Photo by Amanda Cain/NHLI

Score: Sabres 3 | Sharks 5

Shots: SJS 27 | BUF 28

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jeff Skinner 2 (2,3), Drake Caggiula (2)

San Jose Sharks Goals: Tomas Hertl 2 (4,5), Jonathan Dahlen (4), Ryan Merkley (1), Mario Ferraro (1)

News & Notes to Start:

The Sharks came into the game with several players, and their coach, Bob Boughner, in COVID protocol. Therefore, San Jose had to call up five players from their AHL Barracuda squad to fill in.

Sabres centre Cody Eakin was back in the lineup, however leading scorer Victor Olofsson was shelved due to an injury he picked up in practice. Winger John Hayden swapped skates with Brett Murray on the 4th line.

Minus -1: The Sharks strike early and often.

The Sharks drew first blood, after winning a faceoff (which they did all night long), when defenseman Brent Burns fired a point shot that gave Craig Anderson all sorts of trouble. Centre Cody Eakin appeared to lose his check which allowed Sharks winger Jonathan Dahlen to bang in a rebound to make it 1-0

A delayed Sharks penalty set up the Sabres’ first goal. With the extra skater, Buffalo cycled the puck nicely around the boards before Vinnie Hinostroza found Jeff Skinner in the middle of the ice for a set play. Skinner did the rest as he placed a beautiful wrister through a good screen set up by big-men Tage Thompson and Robert Hagg. The game was tied at 1 apiece.

The Sharks took back the lead which they would not relinquish on rookie defenseman Ryan Merkley’s first NHL goal. Merkley picked up a pass at the point, found a shooting lane, and threw a shot on goal. Anders Bjork attempted to block the shot, but instead deflected the puck over Anderson’s shoulder for the score.

Minus -2: The Sabres could not control Sharks centre Tomas Hertl

In the second period, defenseman Mark Pysyk couldn’t clear the puck out of the Sabres’ zone which led to Tomas Hertl picking up a nice pass as he charged into the Sabres’ zone. The skilled Sharks centreman skated right around Robert Hagg before juking Anderson and finishing a nice one to put the Sharks up 3-1.

Plus-1: Caggiula - Cozens - Hinostroza Line was good!

This newly formed line played very well and showed some chemistry. They brought a lot of energy each time they hit the ice and were rewarded with a goal to bring the Sabres within 1. Winger Drake Caggiula took a nice pass from Hinostroza before unleashing a torpedo of a slap shot that blew by Sharks keeper James Reimer to make it 3-2.

Minus-3: Dahlin continues to struggle on this West Coast trip.

After Sharks D-man Mario Ferraro’s one timer from the point beat Anderson to make it 4-2, Tomas Hertl struck again. This time he turned Sabres defender Rasmus Dahlin inside out with a silky move then pulled the puck in for a quick forehand shot that made it 5-2 in favor of the Sharks.

Dahlin had a rough game against L.A. and while he played better tonight, he still struggled at times. Bottom line, the Sabres need more from him as a leader on this team.

Jeff Skinner would go on to add one, late in the third, with a nice mid-air tap-in goal, but it was too little, too late. The Sharks closed out the game for a 5-3 win.

Final Thoughts & Notes

  • The Sabres didn’t play as bad as the score would indicate. They had some defensive breakdowns that cost them, but they did control large parts of the game through the neutral zone and had some good looks.
  • Buffalo needs more offense from the blueline. Currently, Buffalo’s defensemen have not scored against a goalie this season.
  • The Sabres were awful on faceoffs, winning a measly 36.5% of draws. Their problems on the dots led to the Sharks 1st goal and caused headaches for them all night long.
  • The Sabres wrap up their West Coast trip this Thursday in Seattle for their first ever meeting with the Kraken!