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Quick Bites: Dahlen’s multi-goal effort propels Sharks to victory

San Jose’s offensive explosion in the first period was the defining factor of this win.

San Jose Sharks center Jonathan Dahlen (76) passes the puck during the San Jose Sharks versus the Montreal Canadiens game on October 19, 2021, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens have had a rough start to the season, and the San Jose Sharks didn’t make their lives any easier, taking them down by a score of 5-0 in their first game in Montreal since late 2019.

Sharks rookie forward Jonathan Dahlen scored both his first and second career NHL goals. On the first goal, it was thought to have been scored by Timo Meier, before a closer inspection showed that it deflected off of Meier’s stick, and then Dahlen’s, before going into the net.

The second goal more clearly came from Dahlen, as the young forward and his captain, Logan Couture were on a 2-on-1. Couture shot it to the net, and Dahlen picked up the rebound that Canadiens’ goaltender Jake Allen kicked aside, firing it right into the empty net with ease.

Dahlen actually has the quickest second-career goal in Sharks’ history, scoring it just 2:14 after his first-career goal, per the NBC Sports California broadcast.

Dahlen finished at the top of the team in expected goals percentage (xG%) with 93.49 percent. He was tied for second-best on the team offensively and was the best on the team defensively. Just an amazing game for him after a relatively quiet season opener.

Erik Karlsson also continued the great start to the season he has had, with a three-point night including a goal. His goal wasn't anything special, it was just a weird wrist-shot from the point, but the Sharks will take any production they can get from the Swedish defenseman after an underwhelming season last year.

Karlsson, 31, has one goal and four points through the first two games of the season, and has shown flashes of the elite defenseman he has been when healthy. Karlsson himself even told media that he stills thinks he is among one of the best players in the world a couple of days ago, and if he continues to play like this, he very well might be.

We also saw Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc score some absolute snipes on the power play with really accurate shots from the pair.

Let’s not forget the captain, Couture, who had himself a great night as well. He recorded two assists, and really looked productive when he was on the ice. It was good to see, as that entire first-line in the season opener didn’t really seem to stick out to me too much. To see them dominate the way they did was really settling.

Goaltender Adin Hill was limited in terms of shot quality faced. I could probably count the amount of quality chances he faced on one hand. However, he stayed sharp when he needed to be, including stopping a blown-coverage breakaway from Josh Anderson, and earned the Sharks’ first shutout since April 2, 2021 against the Los Angeles Kings. He saved all 21 shots that he faced, good for a 1.39 goals saved above expected (GSAx).

There was really no liability on the ice for the Sharks, as even the third-pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Radim Simek, which struggled mightily in the season opener, had really strong outings, with both of them achieving an 83.57 xG% at even-strength. While the Jacob Middleton and Karlsson pairing didn’t have great metrics analytically, they looked completely fine to me by the eye test — and Karlsson’s points on the scoresheet.

The Canadiens didn’t seem to have any urgency in their game either. After the two quick goals by Dahlen, Brendan Gallagher tried to rough things up a bit and Mike Hoffman started instigating as well, but after that their play was stale and uninspiring from top to bottom. The team didn’t get much help from their goaltender in Allen either, who stopped just 20 of 25 shots, posting an .800 SV% and -2.72 GSAx.

For the road ahead in San Jose, they will take on the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 21, where Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut. From there, they will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 22, and Boston Bruins on Oct. 24 to finish off the week. These games will be the big tests for the Sharks, as they will match up against some pretty intimidating offensive opponents. We’ll see what they are truly made of.

FTF Three Stars

  1. Jonathan Dahlen: 2-0-2, 93.49 xG% through 14:42 TOI
  2. Logan Couture: 0-2-2, 89.92 xG% through 16:35 TOI
  3. Erik Karlsson: 1-2-3, 29.22 xG% through 18:58 TOI