The San Jose Sharks have started the 2021-22 season on a hot streak with 4 wins in a row, including 3 games on the road with back-to-back contests occurring less than 24 hours apart. To quote Jim Kozimor of NBC Sports California, "San Jose owns Canada".
The Sharks opened their 31st season in franchise history at home in the Shark Tank against the Winnipeg Jets. The game featured a list of firsts for San Jose, including the first game with newly acquired goaltender Adin Hill, the first season opener to feature five rookies in the lineup, and the first regular-season home game with no capacity restrictions in 18 months.
West Side Story: Sharks defeat the Jets
The Sharks had a sluggish start, giving up 2 goals. Sharks fans had to wait until the 2nd period to finally hear the first foghorn of the season, when new Sharks player Andrew Cogliano split the lead in half 2-1, with assists from Logan Couture and Brent Burns.
The Sharks took control of the game with a total of 4 unanswered goals. Joining Cogliano on the scoreboard was rookie skater Jasper Weatherby, Veteran leader Tomas Hertl, and 2nd year Shark Rudolf Balcers. Weatherby became the first Shark to score in his rookie debut since 2016, when Timo Meier scored against the Montreal Canadiens on December 16th.
The physicality of the Sharks game plan showed early, with 16 of the 20 skaters recording hits for a team total of 33. In fact, the most memorable check was received by the Sharks when former San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillion laid a hit on Hertl. The tide had turned for the Sharks following the Cogliano goal, when the man with the mustache, Jacob Middleton, dropped the gloves in his first NHL game.
The Sharks won by a final score of 4-3, contributed by controlling the faceoffs (winning 59% of puck drops) and scoring on 2 of their 5 power plays. Adin Hill posted a .870 save percentage in his Teal debut, facing 23 shots.
Sharks Shutout the Canadiens
In their most dominant performance of the young season, the San Jose Sharks went to Montreal and devoured the Canadiens 5-0. Adin Hill became the first goaltender to record a shutout league-wide in the 2021-22 season, even with the Sharks' "late" start in the schedule, stopping all 21 shots faced. The Canadiens did not have starting goaltender Carey Price in the net, as he entered the NHL player assistance program about two weeks prior.
Second Generation Shark Jonathan Dahlen, son of Sharks Alumni Ulf Dahlen, scored his first and second career goals in the first period to start the onslaught for San Jose. Timo Meier had assists on both goals and netted one of his own in the 2nd period. The Sharks again won the battles, with 62% of faceoffs going team teal's way and 2 goals scored out of 4 power play chances. Erik Karlsson recorded 3 points with a goal and 2 assists and Kevin Labanc scored one of the special teams' goals with a primary assist from William Eklund.
Sharks rule the Senators
The Sharks officially go on a winning streak with their 3rd victory in a row. The Senators struck the first blow just over 10 minutes into the first period, but James Reimer shut them down for the remainder of the game. With 30 saves, "Optimus Reim" won his first game back in a Sharks sweater since 2015-16. Reimer stopped 25 of 26 even-strength shots while shutting down 3 shots on 3 power play chances and 2 short-handed opportunities by Montreal. Reimer posted a .968 save percentage to help the Sharks secure a 2-1 victory.
Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc found the back of the net in Ottawa. Couture scored just under 2 minutes in the 2nd period with assists from Timo Meier and Brent Burns, who played his 600th consecutive NHL game. Labanc scored on the power play with an assist from Erik Karlsson, recording his first point against his former club since "the trade", and William Eklund - extending the 2021 1st Round, 7th Overall Draft Pick's scoring streak to 3 games. Eklund's three points in his first three games all came on the power play.
Sharks top the rankings and the Maple Leafs
Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Erik Karlsson continue the points streak in a 5-3 victory that upset the Toronto Maple Leafs. Starting the season, the world of hockey had high expectations of Toronto and very little for San Jose. With the loss to the Sharks, the Maple Leafs now sit at .500 with a 2-2-1 record. Meanwhile, the Sharks are tied for 1st place in the NHL, alongside Florida and Edmonton with a perfect record.
Another stale start had Sharks fans concerned that fatigue from the back-to-back games was finally catching up to the Sharks. With no goals by either team in the 1st period, Captain Logan Couture opened up the frenzy of goals that were scored in the second frame of the game. A total of 5 goals within about10 minutes were tallied, with San Jose scoring 3 of them to take a 3-2 lead into the locker room during the second intermission. Following the Captain was Timo Meier, who has been noticeably more physical in these first four contests, scored an unassisted goal for his second of the year. Meier now has a total of 7 points in 4 games.
Erik Karlsson was quoted by the Mercury News that he considers himself "one of the best players in the world" and so far has played up to that standard. The league's highest-paid defenseman, cashing in on $10.4 million alone this season, has 6 points in 4 games and scored the final goal of the second period against the Maple Leafs.
In the final frame, Jonathan Dahlen scored what eventually would be the game-winning goal just 25 seconds into the 3rd period. The rookie now has 3 goals in his first 4 NHL games. Due to a technical issue, most Sharks fans missed the goal live, but Shark City has the replay in case you missed it.
Captain Couture sealed the Maple Leafs' fate with an empty netter to bring his point total up to 7 in 4 games, but only after a game-saving glove stop by Adin Hill on Toronto superstar and EA Sports NHL 22 cover athlete Austin Matthews.
For the first time this season, the San Jose Sharks didn't record a power play goal despite having three opportunities on the man advantage. The plus side to that stat, however, is that each goal was scored at even strength, 4 goals 5 on 5 and the 5th being scored while Toronto had an extra attacker. Adin Hill's play in the net was clutch, even though he allowed 3 goals. With 30 saves, the Sharks netminder recorded a .909 save percentage and gave Sharks Territory a viewing that they've been longing for in the crease. With two goaltenders playing elite-level hockey, rookies making an immediate impact, and the veterans exceeding expectations - the San Jose Sharks are starting to look like the playoff contenders that teams have been sleeping on and fans have been waiting to see awaken.