San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl celebrates scoring his fifth goal of the season on this third period goal at 6:02 against the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center in San Jose on Tue Nov 2, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 Tuesday night in San Jose. Sharks goals came from Tomas Hertl (2), Jonathan Dahlen, Ryan Merkley and Mario Ferraro. James Reimer made 25 saves for the win. Sabres goals came from Jeff Skinner (2) and Drake Caggiula. Craig Anderson made 22 saves in the loss.
The Sharks roster is still in a state of flux due to COVID-19 protocols. Jonathan Dahlen was back, as was Andrew Cogliano, but Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc were out. Erik Karlsson, Jake Middleton, Matt Nieto, Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic remained out. Logan Couture returned after missing the last game, though not for COVID-19.
After the game, Couture said: “It was chaotic but proud of the effort again. I mean, found a way. Went down to five D early in that second period, or maybe even half way through that second period. Credit to those guys back there, they found a way. I mean, it wasn’t pretty, the whole game, but, found a way.”
Jonathan Dahlen scored first for the Sharks, at 7:25 of the first period. Brent Burns sent a shot from the blue line right down the middle and into a swarm of bodies at the net. The puck evaded Anderson and sliped back into open ice where Dahlen lifted it into the net. Assists went to William Eklund and Burns.
A little over a minute later, Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner tied the game during a delayed penalty. His shot zipped through traffic in the slot and past Reimer. Assists went to Vinnie Hinostroza and Robert Hagg.
Ryan Merkley made it 2-1 Sharks at 12:49. After holding the puck patiently at the blue line, he took a shot that went off of a couple Sabres in front of the net before landing behind Anderson. Assists went to Alexander Barabanov and Tomas Hertl.
Hertl made it 3-1 Sharks early in the second period. Rudolfs Balcers picked up a turnover in the Sabres zone and carried it almost to the goal line before passing it back to the Hertl at the top of the slot. Hertl carried the puck around traffic down to the net and put it past Anderson at 6:13.
Drake Caggiula cut the Sharks lead down a bit at 13:33. Hinostroza brought the puck across the line and then passed it to Caggiula on the boards. Caggiula took a hard shot that went by Reimer on the far side. Assists went to Hinostroza and Dylan Cozens.
Early in the third, Mario Ferraro scored his first of the season with a one-timer from the blue line, off a pass from Nick Merkley. Assists went to Merkley and Jasper Weatherby.
Tomas Hertl added another at 11:46 to make it 5-2. He got the puck from Balcers just as he entered the zone, then wove his way through traffic right down the slot before taking the shot. Assists went to Balcers and Ferraro.
Jeff Skinner scored his second of the game at 18:13. Just as the puck jumped off of Reimer’s glove, Skinner tapped it out of the air. It bounced off the back of Reimer’s helmet and landed over the line. Assists went to Tage Thompson and Rasmus Asplund.
A littl emore than half way through the second period, Sharks defenseman Santeri Hatakka left the game with an upper body injury. He did not return and the team did not have any updates after the game.
The Sharks made an excellent showing in the face-off circle, winning 64% of the draws. The shot count was consistently close through the three periods, ending up 28-27 Sabres. There were few penalties in the game, and fewer power play shots. The Sharks power play had one shot on goal, the Sabres power play had none.
The Sharks next play on Thursday, at home against the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 PM PT.