Sharks lose first exhibition game to Ducks 6-3

The San Jose Sharks forward Tristen Roberts (52) is all happy after scoring a second period goal against the Anaheim Ducks on Sun Sep 26, 2021 at the Honda Center in Anaheim (AP News photo)

~ By Pearl Allison Lo

~ September 26, 2021

~ ANAHEIM– The mostly back-and-forth game went to the home team as the Anaheim Ducks’ Kodie Curran scored the game-winner with a Gordie Howe hat trick in the Sunday victory.

For the San Jose Sharks, this was the first of a split-squad game, with the other half of the team playing the Golden Knights in Las Vegas later at 7pm.   

New Shark Nick Bonino and Jake Middleton each earned two points with a goal and an assist apiece, Bonino’s goal accomplished during the power play.  

Both teams scored in each period of the first preseason game of the 2021-22 NHL season Sunday. That included the extra exhibition period after the third period buzzer, which the Ducks also won by way of Curran. 

San Jose went 1 of 5 on the power play while the Ducks went 1 of 2. Each team went with two  goalies during the game, for the Sharks, Alexei Melnichuk and Zach Sawchenko saved 8 of 10 and 14 of 16 shots respectively and for Anaheim, Lukas Dostal and Olle Eriksson Ek saved 13 of 14 and 11 of 13 on their end.

The crowd saw some fighting action just over a minute into the game when Middleton took exception to a hit on his teammate and got into it with Sam Carrick. 

The Sharks had trouble getting into their offensive end at first with not one player present until about two minutes in and then multiple skaters around three minutes in. John Leonard had San Jose´s first shot on goal around the five minute mark. 

Hampus Lindholm got the Ducks up on the board first at 5:30 with a slapshot from the point. 

The Sharks got a chance for redemption on the power play with a roughing call to Alexander Volkov six seconds later. Ryan Merkley missed a shot and Kevin Labanc´s two shots were blocked by Curran.

Anaheim went on their first power play at 9:36 when Nicolas Meloche was called for holding.

The fourth penalty of the first period occurred when Marc-Edouard Vlasic´s stick was held by Buddy Robinson. San Jose was able to capitalize on their second power play. Merkley was able to stop the clear to keep it in their end and Bonino made a diagonal shot off the post at 14:53 after a pass from Joachim Blichfeld.  

The second period also saw an early fight but not before an earlier goal. Volkov altered 

Kevin Shattenkirk´s shot to give the Ducks the 2-1 lead at 1:39. Curran received the secondary assist. 16 seconds later, Meloche (second penalty) and Curran were cited for fighting. At the same time, a concurrent penalty was given to Volkov, his second of the night, for interfering with Blichfeld.

Halfway through the second period was when the goalie changes occurred. The Sharks took advantage of the fresh goalie at 10:24 to re-tie the game at two apiece. Tristen Robins scored his first, helped by Dylan Gambrell and Rudolf Balcers. 

At 15:36, Anaheim went back ahead. Vlasic’s pass went behind the net to Sonny Milano instead, who made a straight pass to the incoming Benoit-Olivier Groulx, as Groulx converted. 

In the third, after a barrage (four in the span of 36 seconds) of shots by the Ducks, Balcers shot in between two defenders and went top post for the game´s third tie at 6:35.  Middleton and Bonino earned the assists. 

Starting at 12:03, scored three goals in a span of six minutes and 20 seconds. Troy Terry found a wide open Curran on the left for the first. Robinson got the second assist. Momentum continued in Anaheim´s favor as they went on their second power play. Volkov aimed at the net as the puck went behind Sachenko. Unable to fish it out, Terry was able to poke the puck into the net to make it 5-3. It was Milano´s second assist. With 1:37 left, Greg Pateryn made it three goals in the third period with an empty-netter to conclude the regulation scoring.

In the exhibition shootout, the Ducks went first as it went from Jacob Perreault to Labanc to Volkov to Alexander Barabanov to Milano (the first one who did not score) to Hertl (blocked) to Curran (scored) to Leonard (wide). 

Up Next: In the second split squad game in Las Vegas the Sharks defeated the Knights 4-2 at the T Mobile Center. On Tuesday, the Sharks will host their home preseason opener against the Los Angeles Kings at 7pm. 

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