Recap: Sabres collapse in third, fall 5-1 to Sharks

Recap: Sabres collapse in third, fall 5-1 to Sharks
Sabres at Sharks analysis: 3 goals from Couture, power play help get Sharks back on track
Share Share Recap: Sabres collapse in third, fall 5-1 to Sharks tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports Following an ugly loss at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres needed a a strong outing last night against a dangerous San Jose Sharks team. Unfortunately, the boys in blue-and-gold were unable to overcome a one-goal deficit heading into the third period, allowing three goals in the final frame en route to a 5-1 blowout.

The Sharks set the tone early, registering their first two goals of the game just 4:02 into the opening frame after capitalizing twice on a double-minor high-sticking penalty against Kyle Okposo. Joonas Donskoi and Logan Couture each earned their second tallies of the season on the Sharks first opportunity with the man-advantage.

The Sabres temporarily stopped the bleeding to finish the period, while still failing to capitalize on three power-play opportunities of their own.

San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns (88) congratulates San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture (39) on his goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the first period at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Jake McCabe did give Buffalo a glimmer of hope at 1:35 in the second period with his first goal of the season, narrowing the deficit to 2-1. The initial rebound from Rasmus Dahlins shot at the point was collected by Jeff Skinner who dished it to McCabe for a beautiful shot from the left faceoff dot.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski (8) tries to get a shot off from a rebound against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton (40) in the first period at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Share Share Quick Bites: Things might be coming together tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images The power play that many were anticipating from the San Jose Sharks made its debut in their 5-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Without a power-play goal in five of its first six games, and ranked 21st in the league at 16.7 percent coming in, San Jose connected twice to make Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo pay for his double-minor high stick of Sharks rookie forward Rourke Chartier 1:45 into the first period.

Video: Couture records hat trick as Sharks down Sabres, 5-1

First, its worth a quick note that Marc-Édouard Vlasic was playing in game number 900, all with the Sharks. He is the first Sharks defenseman to do so and is ranked fourth overall in NHL history in wins for defensemen in 900 games, just above Nicklas Lidstrom, who led the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cups before his 900th game.

And Couture capped his third career three-goal game and the scoring for the game with his fourth of the season into an empty net at 18:13. Couture needed more than 400 career games to notch his first hat trick. Thursday’s was the first of his career at home.

Although the result saw the Sharks win by four over the Sabres, the game didnt start on the right foot for them. After a long road trip through the Eastern time zone, the Sharks showed some rust to start the game. In the first period, the Sabres were in control of the puck to start the game with a 55 percent Corsi for (CF%) in all situations.

Defenseman Jake McCabe’s bad-angle sweeping wrist shot from the far edge of the left circle eluded Jones, who didn’t react to the rebound shot. Karlsson appeared to screen the San Jose goalie at 1:35 as the visitors cut their deficit to 2-1.

Despite the Sabres possession of the puck, they were unable to do much with it. As a result, the Sharks were able to capitalize on their opportunities. Entering the game, their power-play sat at 9.5 percent, but that didnt stop the Sharks from scoring two power play goals on an early double minor on Kyle Okposo for high sticking.

There was much discussion, debate, and worrying over the Sharks power play over the last two weeks, but against the Sabres, they laid some of these concerns to rest — at least for the time being. More importantly, it gives a glimpse into what their power play can become when consistent.

Even though the Sharks were up early with a 2-0 lead, they were giving the Sabres opportunities to come back into the game with three penalties in the first period. The penalty kill was able to get them out of these predicaments and denied the Sabres any chance to convert on the man-advantage.

If this is going to be your plan on the penalty kill, the players in the middle of the ice scoring goals are inexcusable. The other big issue is allowing the players in front to be able to tap in loose pucks. The defender must be close enough to the forward to be able to react and tie him up on a rebound situation.

Game flow shows that the Sharks were in control of the puck throughout the second period, maintaining a 63 percent CF% in all situations while generating 13 scoring chances for, but Carter Hutton stood tall and denied two 2-on-1 scoring chances. Though the Sharks limited the Sabres to only six scoring chances, Jake McCabe was able to get one past Martin Jones to cut the deficit to one.

This isnt the first time an NHL team has added 3D flair to a specialty game day look. The decals started popping up on helmets earlier this year, with teams like the LA Kings adding to their headgear. The Sharks Thursday night opponent, the Sabres, added the decals to the helmets they wore in the 2018 NHL Winter Classic against the New York Rangers. 

Couture scores hat trick for Sharks in win against Sabres

via Natural Stat Trick The end score may suggest that the game wasnt close, but heading into the third period, the score was still within reach for the Sabres to mount a comeback. But the Sharks took hold of the game in the third possessing a 67 CF% in all situations and generating 18 scoring chances for — this time converting on their opportunities.

Newly-acquired defenseman Erik Karlsson debuted the new Stealth jersey for the first time during the Sharks preseason, but the sweaters have not seen any game action yet. According to San Joses schedule, the team should be wearing the specialty look thirteen times during the 2018-19 regular season.

The Sabres head to San Jose even on their current trip

Unlike the previous game against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, the Sharks didnt allow for a lead to get away from them in the third period. Against the Sabres, the Sharks made sure not to let them back into the game by taking ill-advised penalties and playing shotty defense.

The newly-stickered headwear completes the look the Sharks plan to sport on Stealth Nights, which will take place on Thursday and Friday home games, plus the Sharks Saturday night tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 3. 

Logan Couture began an onslaught of offensive pressure and goals in the third by scoring his second goal of the game off a pass from Evander Kane, helping the Sharks regain their two-goal cushion. The Sharks third — yes, third — power play goal came courtesy of Joe Pavelski who was near the crease and helped put away a rebound to make it 4-1.

Two years ago the Sharks made a draft-day trade to acquire Maxim Letunov from the Arizona Coyotes. Last December they signed Jayden Halbgewachs to an entry-level deal as a free agent out of the WHL. This past summer, Doug Wilson added Kyle Wood and Francis Perron in separate trades while Lukas Radil and Vincent Praplan were signed as free agents from Europe. The list goes on from there. 21 of the Barracudas 24 current players on their roster were not drafted by the organization but assembled via trade or signing, and yet, tremendous scouting, development, and player acquisition has the Sharks farm system as deep as it has ever been.

In all of the talk surrounding the power play, it should be noted that Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson were finally split up, having been played together on the top unit for much of their man-advantages early in the season.

The Sharks AHL affiliate opened up their fourth season in San Jose on October 5 as the leagues youngest team with an average age of 22.7-years old and a locker room comprised of 12 newcomers and 10 rookies. The Barracuda have exceeded and accelerated expectations with a franchise-best 4-0-0-1 start to the season and a league-high nine points through five games. In addition, San Jose ranks fifth in the league with 20 goals scored. An encouraging statistic for a club that netted a league-low 186 goals last year.

Finally, the fifth goal came via a Couture empty-netter to cap off his third career hat trick. This was the first Sharks hat trick at the SAP Center since Joel Ward recorded one in October 2015, so the Shark Tank had been waiting for a while to throw some hats on the ice.

Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, the longest tenured coach in AHL history, realizes his group has a long way to go, but when he addressed season ticket holders at the annual Meet the Team event on Wednesday at Solar4America Ice he compared his current group to the 2016-17 squad that reached the Western Conference Finals, had 11 different skaters play in at least one game with the Sharks, went on a league-high 14 game winning streak and won multiple league awards, among other accolades.

5 Observations: Sharks topple Sabres 5-1

That wasnt the end of the action, unfortunately. As the time rolled down to zero, Brenden Dillon was engaged with Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe. When Zach Bogosian tried to get into the mix, Joakim Ryan attempted to pull him off and wound up fighting Bogosian himself.

Bogosian and Ryan were both given fighting majors, with Bogosian taking an extra roughing penalty, which meant nothing, anyway, since the clock had run down. Ryan was second on the Sharks in CF% for the night with 71.43 percent, behind only Evander Kane (73.91).

All the numbers before yesterday had suggested that the Sharks were doing everything right, generating shots and scoring chances, but the puck couldnt find the back of the net, especially on the power play. However, last nights victory over the Sabres saw the Sharks firing on all cylinders, and in the spirit of Halloween, this kind of form could be the beginning of something scary for the rest of the league.

Posted in Buffalo