The San Jose Sharks might just be beginning to find their game again.
In the second game of a SAP Center doubleheader that saw the San Jose Barracuda come from behind to defeat the Bakersfield Condors by a score of 4-3 in the matinee game, the Sharks entered the building looking to build on a see-saw victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City against a Calgary Flames team that was picked apart by the Vegas Golden Knights a day earlier. They went on to win 3-1, but not without a fight from the Flames.
Bill Peters’ men had the advantage in score- and venue-adjusted shot attempts in the first period of the game, out-shooting the Sharks 15 to 12 and creating .69 expected goals to the Sharks’ .32 xGF, but they still trailed in scoring at the end of the period, thanks to a tipped-in goal by Timo Meier and an absolutely filthy goal from Kevin Labanc.
The Sharks were able to get their offense going in the second period, despite what the shot totals said on the scoreboard (at one point, the Sharks had only nine shots midway through the second period). While they were able to out-shoot the Flames in the second, they struggled to build on the lead, surrending a goal to Elias Lindholm. They did have one high-danger chance in this period and were able to at least maintain the two-goal lead after a shorthanded goal from Tomas Hertl.
The Flames turned up the heat in the final frame, down 3-1. Yes, I’m sorry, I had to make that pun. They kept the Sharks on the defensive for almost all of the final frame, out-shooting them 13 to 4. They had two high-danger chances in this period, but they proved to not be compelling enough, as the Sharks held on to take the win, their first on home ice of the brand new season.
After a very rocky start to the season, Martin Jones pulled out his best effort of the season so far in the win over Calgary. In all situations, he faced five high-danger scoring chances and stopped all of them. In fact, the only goal he had allowed was the Elias Lindholm tip-in that had taken an odd bounce.
A line that surprised me with their offensive output tonight was the fourth line of Lean Bergmann, Dylan Gambrell and Lukas Radil. They paved the way in shot attempts at 5-on-5 play and had the best Corsi For percentage of all four lines with 53.1.
Timo Meier is also getting himself back into the swing of things after a quiet four games. He had the most individual expected goals out of all Sharks players and had a high-danger scoring chance that was converted into his first goal of the new season. His line with Logan Couture and (checks notes) Patrick Marleau also led all four Sharks lines in expected goals with .32 xG created.
While it wasn’t an entirely pretty offensive performance for the Sharks, they’ve been picking up the points regardless in this Patrick Marleau renaissance of sorts and hope to continue the offense’s progress as they prepare to face a Carolina Hurricanes squad that has been surging during (and after) their games this season. Slowly but surely, the goals have been coming.