The second period strikes again, as the New Jersey Devils bested the San Jose Sharks in an early East Coast tilt.
Although better on the whole, the Sharks have a lot of work to do to get on track. The first period started out decently, allowing no goals and just nine shots against. Despite taking two minor penalties — one from Matt Nieto and the other from Tomas Hertl — the penalty kill remained strong and kept the opening frame relatively boring.
During the second is when things got a bit interesting.
New Jersey started the period on the power play, but San Jose held it together until just past the halfway point of the period, when Devils captain Nico Hischier appeared to score. The goal was ultimately recalled after being reviewed for a kicking motion, but the relief was short-lived. A communication error between Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Timo Meier allowed Yegor Sharangovich to steal the puck away and score the first goal of the game.
Unfortunately for Evgeny Svechnikov, what looked like a decent scoring opportunity turned into a two-minute visit to the penalty box and the ensuing power play resulted in the first strike against the Sharks’ penalty kill this season. Dawson Mercer scored on passes from Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, showing the offensive prowess that makes this Devils power play so dangerous. On a much more positive note, Kevin Labanc responded quickly with a goal of his own about 30 seconds later. The beautiful snipe included assists from Scott Harrington and Oskar Lindblom.
Despite pulling within one goal near the end of the second period, the momentum died during the intermission. The third period was quiet until the Sharks’ third power play of the night, where the team showed some brilliance and gave us hope they’d put that special teams advantage to work.
Alas, it would not be. The tying goal never came and the Sharks are headed to Philadelphia back in the loss column.
Can the Sharks build off the first win?
Not really, no. The score was 0-0 through the first period, but the team faced second period woes once again. San Jose allowed just nine shots in the first, but only put up six themselves. A quiet first paired with a rocky second period just doesn’t create a recipe for success.
This season, the Sharks have been outscored 16-4 in the second period alone. Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 34 of 36 shots for a .944 save percentage, but the offense just couldn’t back him up.
Special teams edge vs even-strength disadvantage
Unfortunately, the penalty kill is no longer perfect. Despite that, the PK squad still looks good, and giving up just one power play goal in the first seven games of the season is nothing to look down upon. Going 0/2 on the power play definitely isn’t playing into that advantage we spoke of before the game, however we still hold out hope that they will be able to convert those expected goals into actual ones soon.
Timo Time, finally?
No dice, so we’ll keep waiting. Meier posted just two of the team’s 22 shots on goal. His 4.23 shots per game ranked sixth in the league last season. Although early, Meier’s current 4.33 shots per game is ranked 18th in the league. If he keeps shooting, a puck will have to go in some time, right?
- Oskar Lindblom recorded his 100th NHL point during the game. Lindblom has exactly 50 goals and 50 assists in 268 career games.
- On a positive note, the team didn’t give up an empty net goal, despite Kahkonen being pulled from the net for most of the final five minutes of the game.
- The first and third periods were kind of boring hockey. While I hope the team figures out the second period issues, at least they are keeping those second periods fun to watch.