Photo credit: @NBCSSharks
By Jerry Feitelberg
Meet the new Sharks, same as the old Sharks. In their first game since the firing of Peter DeBoer and a number of other coaching staff moves, the San Jose Sharks still ran into familiar problems of an ineffective power play and subpar goaltending in a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers.
Artemi Panarin scored a hat trick for the Blue Shirts, Mika Zibanejad added a pair and the Rangers had 30 shots to just 18 for San Jose in Bob Boughner’s debut behind the San Jose bench. Tomas Hertl scored playing a hybrid wing-center position, Logan Couture netted a goal and Brenden DIllon scored his first goal in over a year, but the Sharks fell to 0-5-1 over their last six games and now sit five points out of a playoff spot. Joachim Blichfield made his NHL debut and Joe Thornton appeared in NHL career game 1,6000.
Dillon’s goal broke a 2-2 tie 4:12 into the third period and felt like it would be the deciding goal that would spark a Sharks turnaround, but Zibanejad used a Chris Kreider screen on a Rangers power play to tie the game 8:49 into the period. A lackluster defensive effort that saw two Rangers slip behind Sharks defenders for a gigantic screen on Sharks goalie Martin Jones led to another Zibanedjad strike about five minutes later for a 4-3 Rangers lead.
Jones would most likely want the Rangers next goal back as he pulled off his left post with Panarin nearly on the goal line to that side. An all-world sniper, Panarin made Jones pay for the early release from the post with 3:11 left in regulation. He scored on the empty net as well for his 18th of the year and the hat trick to complete a four-goal Rangers third period.
The early response from the Sharks seemed to be a change for the better. Tomas Hertl opened the game scoring first 9:13 into the first period, something the Sharks were having trouble with this season. Jesper Fast and Panarin (another goal Jones would want back after leaving his five-hole unguarded on a lateral push) would score in the second period, but Logan Couture answered back with his 10th goal of the year. San Jose didn’t capitalize though on two power plays, and only mustered 18 shots on the Rangers backup goalie, spelling doom in Boughner’s home debut as Sharks head coach.
The picture of how the Sharks will respond to their coach’s firing may get more clear Saturday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks. By then, the team should be adjusted to life under four new coaches and systems might be better installed. For now, though, Sharks fans have to continue to settle for a night of unmatched expectations.