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Quick Bites: Night of firsts propels 3-1 win over Kraken

All three Sharks goals came from *checks notes* the new kids on the roster.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek (51) carries the puck during the NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and the Seattle Kraken on February 27, 2022 at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Photo by Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks might be out of playoff contention, but at least they’re not at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings like the Seattle Kraken. It’s the little things, right?

Rookie Scott Reedy was called up a few hours before the game was set to start, and Mario Ferraro, who was injured in last night’s game, was announced to have had successful foot surgery and would be out six to eight weeks. It puts the Sharks in a bit of a bind, because while adding a forward like Reedy is great (unless you’re Jonathan Dahlen, who was scratched again), the organization is fast running out of defenders.

Nicolas Meloche, who was out last game following a knock to the head (which leads me to believe that it is probably too early for him to hit the ice, but I digress) was back in the line-up, and there have been rumblings that Erik Karlsson may be ahead of schedule in his recovery too.

Until then, the Sharks are doing the best they can with what they have, which includes putting James Reimer back in net. Again. Whether or not a Zach Sawchenko start will happen in my lifetime still remains to be seen.

The first period was by far the Sharks’ worst. As was a trend in the 3-2 loss last game, the Sharks came out without their sea-legs. The Kraken play with a lot of jump off opening puck drops and giving up a 3-on-2 in the first two minutes wasn’t an auspicious start.

By the mid-point of the period, neither team was playing like they wanted to catch the next episode of Euphoria live. They weren’t slow per se, but there was a distinct lack of energy. Gameplay was mostly tied up in the neutral zone, and when either team was in the offensive zone, neither were able to generate a ton of high-quality chances.

Even if I have my suspicions about Meloche truly being at 100 percent, he played great this entire game, physical and smart, with a special attention to detail.

With under six minutes remaining in the first, chances were back-and-forth, but for every one good shift the Sharks had, the Kraken at three. Or, they did, until Ryan Dzingel earned his first goal in Teal with barely two minutes left on the clock. It came on a heads-up tic-tac-toe play, and with no hesitation in the high-slot, Dzingel had it made.

Morgan Geekie had it made too, because nine seconds later he tied it up, with a shot that bounced over Meloche’s stick.

Seattle proved, once again, that they had the jump to get things started in the second period, and the Sharks were just as sedate as they were in the first. Jacob Middleton and Jeremy Lauzon had words (and fists) with each other, likely to get a little energy brewing on the benches, and I hate to say it, but their five minutes for fighting were nearly worth it.

Piggy-backing off the momentum, Alexander Barabanov (who played a fantastic game), Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl did their best to get something in, but it was Seattle’s Calle Jarnkrok who scored.

Or did he? This was the night of challenged goals it seemed, because Jarnkrok’s goal was successfully challenged for goaltender interference, and something seemed to shift in San Jose’s mood. The called-back goal was a turning point, not only for this game, but potentially for this next stretch of games.

Scott Reedy, in his fifth NHL game, earned his first NHL goal at the midway point of the second, taking a quick shot right off of a faceoff win by Jasper Weatherby. It put the Sharks up, 2-1, and whatever energy had been lacking came in full force.

Former teammates Ryan Donato and Middleton had words, and were called for roughing, but even the annoyance of a 4-on-4, almost immediately followed up by a penalty by Ryan Merkley, didn’t shake the momentum.

The last few minutes were hectic in all the right ways, with the Sharks swarming Philipp Grubauer like … well … sharks that had caught the scent of blood in the water.

The third period started on the power play, after Yanni Gourde slashed Hertl in the final few seconds of the second period. Not much happened on the power play tonight, but the second unit of Merkley, Reedy, Dzingel, Noah Gregor and Nick Bonino looked particularly deadly at points. The Sharks had a lot of opportunities to show off their power play, even if it didn’t net them anything.

Barabanov drew a penalty in the first five minutes, and then the Sharks were granted another power play about five minutes later. But it wasn’t until the final five minutes in the game that it was finally put it away.

Jonah Gadjovich finally earned his first NHL goal, on a puck that was deflected off his skate from a shot by Brent Burns. It was a redirect (not a kick), and one done cleanly, which is why the goal stood even after the Kraken challenged it for goaltender interference, resulting in a Seattle penalty for wasting everyone’s time.

For the Sharks, finally playing in a way that didn’t feel like 60 minutes of wading through mud (i.e., slow and exhausting) was a win in and of itself, and the 3-1 score didn’t hurt.

Pulling a few new faces up and down to account for the lack of goal-scoring and injured defenders may have another effect: revitalizing the Sharks’ energy. The excitement of three first goals and a win by a greater margin than a shootout is going to help carry San Jose throughout their next string of games.