Sharks Start Season with 4-3 Shootout Win Over Coyotes

The San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl (48) jubilant after scoring against the Arizona Coyotes he is joined by Evander Kane (9), John Leonard (right of Kane), and Nilolai Knyzhov (71) in the first period (AP News photo)

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks started the 2021 season with a 4-3 shoot-out win in Arizona against the Coyotes. Tomas Hertl scored twice, John Leonard got two assists in his first NHL game. Evander Kane scored the Sharks’ third goal and Logan Couture scored the game-winner in the shootout. Conor Garland, Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel scored for Arizona. Martin Jones made 34 saves for the win, while Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves in the loss.

After the game, Logan Couture said: “I thought we were sloppy at times but I thought we did a lot of things really well. We had some speed through the neutral zone and that one line, Tommy Hertl’s line, created some nice goals. And Joner made some big-time saves when we had those breakdowns.”

Martin Jones did a lot of work during the long layoff and looked good Thursday. After the game, he said: “I think I took full advantage of the time and I put in a lot of work. So, it was nice to be able to play well in the first game but, you know, it’s one game, we gotta keep working at it here. There’s a lot of things that we can clean up.”

Couture gave a post-game nod to the rookie Sharks, saying: “Some guys played their first NHL game tonight, I thought they were terrific tonight.” Those first-timers were John Leonard and Nicholas Meloche. Leonard had two assists in his 13:14 of ice time. Meloche was a +1 in his 5:43 on the blue line.

Tomas Hertl scored twice in the first period for the Sharks, the first a power play goal at 12:43. Logan Couture took a shot from the boards, which bounced arond in the crease before Hertl put it away. Assists went to Evander Kane and Couture.

The second goal came with just over three minutes left in the period. John Leonard had just thrown the puck to the net, creating a rebound for Hertl to put away. Assists went to Leonard and Kane.

The Coyotes rallied in the second, Conor Garland scored for the Coyotes on a power play at 16:51 of the second period. Joel Kellman was in the box for tripping Derick Brassard. It was the Sharks’ third penalty in a row. The Coyotes were able to move the puck cross-ice several ties before Christian Dvorak’s shot found Garland’s tick for a tip in front of the net. Assists went to Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun.

Going into the third period, Evander Kane had two assists. With an aggressive charge to the net, and a Coyote on one arm, he scored the Sharks’ third goal a little past the midway point of the third period. Assists went to John Leonard and Tomas Hertl.

The 3-1 lead held up well into the third period.

Clayton Keller scored for the Coyotes’ with just 3:30 left in the third. Finding himself alone in the high slot, he caught the puck as it came out of a skirmish in front of the net and put it over Jones’ right shoulder before the goalie could get across. Assists went to Garland and Chychrun.

Phil Kessel tied the game up with just four seconds left in regulation. Under a lot of pressure with the Coyotes net empty, Martin Jones made a couple of good saves before it got by him. The Coyotes had three skaters in front of him and they all got a shot before Kessel’s went in. Assists went to Alex Goligoski and Clayton Keller.

The Sharks got a power play at 3:13 of overtime, when Clayton Keller was called for tripping Kevin Labanc. The Sharks OT power play started with Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl. After a shot went over the glass, Kane came onto the ice with Timo Meier and Ryan Donato, with Karlsson staying on. Neither unit scored before time ran out, in the power play and the period.

Each team scored on their first shot in the shootout, first Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz and the San Jose’s Ryan Donato. After that, Martin Jones stopped Clayton Keller and Conor Garland missed. Logan Couture scored to close it out.

The modified season has the Sharks playing against the Coyotes again on Saturday before moving on to St. Louis.

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