Sharks seek season-opening sweep at Arizona

Sharks

After pulling out a win in Thursday’s season opener, the San Jose Sharks get right back to work in a rematch with the host Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz.

The matinee concludes the first of four back-to-back meetings between the Sharks and Coyotes, members of the new West Division, during the NHL’s truncated 56-game season.

Sharks forwards Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane each tallied three points, rookie forward John Leonard registered two assists in his NHL debut and goaltender Martin Jones made 34 saves in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout victory — San Jose’s first game in 309 days.

“We knew coming in there would be breakdowns, that it was going to be sloppy,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said after he win. “But I said this morning, the team that was going to compete and battle the hardest (was going to win) and I thought we battled pretty hard tonight.”

Arizona entered the season opener with a much shorter layoff, having participated in the NHL’s bubble last summer.

Thursday’s game was the Coyotes’ first since Aug. 19, a 7-1 first-round playoff loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

“We had our moments and I thought for the most part the guys played hard,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “We had a chance to win the game … in overtime and the goalie made a hell of a save.”

While Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner hasn’t yet confirmed his starting goalie for Saturday’s game, it is likely Jones will be back between the pipes after his strong season debut.

“Jonesy was our best player tonight,” Boughner complimented after the win.

The Sharks jumped out to 2-0 first-period lead behind back-to-back goals from Hertl. Arizona’s Conor Garland cut the visitors’ lead in half with a power-play goal in the second stanza. San Jose took a 3-1 lead in the third period with a goal by Kane before Arizona’s Clayton Keller found the back of the net with 3:30 left in regulation to make it 3-2.

The Sharks nearly snagged the victory before Phil Kessel found the equalizer with 3.2 seconds left to play. After neither side could snap the tie in overtime, Couture broke the stalemate by beating Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper in the shootout to seal the victory.

Sharks defenseman Radim Simek is expected to miss a second straight game. He was placed on retroactive injured reserve earlier this week after experiencing continued discomfort in his surgically repaired right knee. His absence has opened up the door for young defensemen Nicolas Meloche and Nikolai Knyzhov.

–Field Level Media

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