San Jose Sharks goaltender Adin Hill stops one of the 37 shots he saved against the Buffalo Sabers this one in the first period in Buffalo on Thu Jan 6, 2022 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Thursday. It was just the Sharks’ fourth win in Buffalo in franchise history. Matt Nieto, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl scored for the Sharks. Adin Hill made 36 saves for the win. Jeff Skinner and Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 18 saves in the loss.
The Sharks were again without Logan Couture and Jonathan Dahlen but defenseman Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup from the COVID-19 list. Goaltender James Reimer was also unavailable due to a lower body injury of unspecified severity. This puts some pressure on Adin Hill to return to form as the starter.
Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner mentioned that Adin Hill had his swagger back in Thursday’s game, and the team fed off of that confidence. He summed up the team’s performance as: “We weren’t perfect but we were a lot better and it’s a good sign.”
Sharks forward Matt Nieto talked about scoring a goal with his line-mates Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino: “We haven’t really created offense the way we would like to. We think we’ve gotten a lot of chances so it’s nice to get one tonight. Hopefully more start coming.”
Nieto started a brief first-period flurry of scoring for the Sharks at 12:27. Andrew Cogliano sent the puck up from the goal line to Nieto inside the face-off dot. Nieto took the shot from an awkward angle but got it by Luukkonen on the blocker side. Assists went to Cogliano and Nick Bonino.
Timo Meier made it 2-0 at 13:44. Tomas Hertl got the puck across the line and then dropped it to Meier. Meier took a quick shot from the point and rang it off the post and in. Assists went to Hertl and Mario Ferraro.
Tomas Hertl made it 3-0 at 17:24. Alexander Barabanov cleared the puck out of the Sharks zone and then chased it down to carry it into the Sabres zone. He dropped it to a trailing Hertl who took the shot from the slot for his 17th of the season.
Jeff Skinner scored for Buffalo at 7:56 of the second. Skinner pulled the puck out of a board battle and carried it to the slot before taking the shot. The puck went over Hill’s stick, off the post and in. Victor Olofsson got the assist.
Zemgus Girgensons made it 3-2 with a power play goal at 18:14 of the third. Tage Thompson took a shot from the point that went off of the bar and came back out to bounce down Hill’s shoulder before landing behind him. Before Hill could find it, Girgensons swept it in. Assists went to Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin.
The Sabres pulled their goaltender with 92 seconds left and made a good push but the Sharks held on.
The Sabres out-shot the Sharks in every period for a shot total of 39-21, and in the third period they out-shot the Sharks 22-5. The Sabres also beat the Sharks in the face-off circle, winning 60% of the draws. The Sharks only had one power play but had no shots on that one. The Sabres had three power plays in which they had seven shots and a goal.
The Sharks’ next game is on Saturday in Philadelphia against the Flyers at 4:00 PM PT.