SAN JOSE — Kevin Labanc scored just over a minute into overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win in their preseason opener.
Bo Horvat got the Canucks on the scoreboard just 2:06 in to the game. Horvat and Jake Virtanen created a two-on-one in the Sharks zone. Virtanen’s shot bounced off of Troy Grosenick’s pads and on to the stick of Horvat, who scored into a gaping net.
Aside from the goal and another odd-man-rush that Vancouver couldn’t capitalize on, San Jose controlled play in the opening frame. The Sharks held a 15-4 edge in shots on goal, but had nothing to show for it. They failed to score on three power play opportunities. Nikolay Goldobin couldn’t finish on the Sharks’ best scoring chance of the period, wristing a shot in close high and wide shortly after Vancouver took the lead.
Goldobin failed to capitalize on another chance early in the second period, ringing a shot off of the outside of the post. His line, with Chris Tierney and Tommy Wingels alongside him, just missed on another chance with around 7:30 remaining in the second period. The line cycled the puck along the wall and behind the net, but Wingels fanned on Tierney’s cross-crease pass in front of the net.
The Sharks finally broke through with six minutes left in the second period. Matt Nieto’s strong forechecking kept the puck in the offensive zone, and San Jose was able to establish zone time. Kevin Labanc ripped a quick pass from in front of the blueline to Barclay Goodrow, who calmly gathered the puck, spun, and scored through Michael Garteig’s five hole.
Mirco Mueller nearly handed the Canucks a go-ahead goal just over two minutes into the third period, turning the puck over. James Sheppard looked to capitalize, stickhandling around Mantas Armalis and facing a wide-open net, but Mueller recovered to block Sheppard’s shot.
The Canucks took a 2-1 lead 8:24 into the third, on a goal very similar to the first. David Schlemko got caught at the red line attempting to make a hit, leading to a Canucks’ odd-man rush the other way. This time, Sven Baertschi scored for the Canucks, as his shot from the left circle flummoxed Mantas Armalis.
Neither team generated much offense for the rest of the period, until the Sharks pulled Armalis. Tommy Wingels tied the game with just 22.6 remaining in regulation, poking the rebound from David Schlemko’s point shot through Garteig’s legs.
The Sharks needed just 1:05 to score the game-winner in overtime. After the Canucks cycled the puck in the Sharks’ zone, San Jose was able to change. David Schlemko quickly passed to Nieto, creating a two-on-one in the Canucks’ zone. Nieto couldn’t sneak the pass across to Labanc, but Labanc gathered the puck and ripped it short side past Gartheig for the game-winner.
- It’s a little difficult to evaluate the Sharks’ performance tonight, given their opposition. Lots of prospects for Vancouer, with a few familiar NHL faces (hello, James Sheppard!) sprinkled in. Still, the Sharks controlled play from beginning to end, and there were a lot of strong performances.
- Goldobin, Wingels, and Tierney’s line looked pretty good, but Labanc, Carpenter, and Goodrow was easilly the Sharks’ best line. They were rewarded with a goal in the second period, and absolutely dominated play at even strength. At the very least, that level of play is very encouraging for the Barracuda, where each player will likely begin the season.
- Mirco Mueller and Dylan DeMelo also looked really good. There was the turnover, but Mueller looked very assured defensively, and even showed a bit of a mean streak. DeMelo was a bit quiet, but moved the puck well. The Sharks’ blueline is crowded this year, but Mueller looks like he’ll be reliable in case of an injury.
- David Schlemko’s offense was on full display tonight. Two assists, including on the game-winner. His puck-moving will help the Sharks this season.
- The Sharks finished 0-for-3 on the power play, and looked a little disjointed at times. Understandable, with pretty much every regular power play guy from last season out of the lineup. Jeremy Roy did a good job quarterbacking the second unit, however, and showed strong instincts in the offensive zone.
- He didn’t have a strong possession game, but Marcus Sorensen’s speed once again stood out. In the first period, he drew a penalty and nearly scored after beating the Canucks to a loose puck on a clear, and forcing Canucks starter Richard Bachman to leave his net. In the second, he kept a loose puck alive on the forecheck after Chris Tierney missed on an odd-man-rush. It’s still incredibly early in camp, but Sorensen’s skating ability could earn him a roster spot.
- Jake and I will be discussing tonight’s game, as well as what I’ve seen in training camp in a podcast tomorrow at 9 AM PST. Stay tuned for details!
Fear the Fin Three Stars
- Kevin Labanc
- Mirco Mueller
- David Schlemko