The San Jose Sharks’ game with the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night represented their first chance to try and put a disastrous 2019-2020 season in the rear view mirror.
After some hairy moments, they finally got the end result they wanted.
Ryan Donato, Logan Couture both scored in the shootout and Martin Jones made a subsequent save on Clayton Keller as the Sharks earned a tense 4-3 win over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
Jones had 34 saves in regulation time and overtime, Evander Kane had a three-point night and Tomas Hertl scored two first period goals as the Sharks opened the season with a victory for the first time since 2016, giving Bob Boughner his first win as San Jose’s full-time head coach.
The Sharks appeared on their way to a comfortable win, but allowed two goals in the final 3:30 of the third period, including a Phil Kessel goal with 3.2 seconds left in regulation time as the Coyotes tied the game 3-3.
Kane assisted on both of Hertl’s goals and added a beauty of his own with 8:36 left in the third period. Streaking up the ice, Kane controlled the puck, fought off a check from Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, then beat goalie Darcy Kuemper with a nifty stick handling move in front of the net for a 3-1 Sharks lead.
John Leonard registered his first NHL point, assisting on Hertl’s second goal, in what was the Sharks’ first game since March 11, a span of 309 days.
Hertl scored twice in a span for four minutes and eight seconds, with his second goal at the 16:51 mark of the second period coming off of assists from Kane and Leonard.
Jones had 17 saves in the first two periods, including nine high danger saves just around the Sharks net.
The Coyotes scored their first goal with 4:14 left in the second period on what was their third power play of the game, as Conor Garland found a seam and beat Jones.
Keller scored with 3:30 left in regulation time to cut the Sharks’ lead to 3-2.. But the Sharks will have an opportunity to sweep the opening two-game series with the Coyotes on Saturday afternoon.
Hertl gave the Sharks their first lead of the season with a power play goal at the 12:43 mark of the first period. Logan Couture took a pass from Erik Karlsson and fired it quickly on net. Kane knocked it toward Hertl, who fired it past Kuemper for a 1-0 San Jose lead.
The Sharks didn’t have their first lead of the 2019-20 season until the third period of their fifth game, as Barclay Goodrow scored the game-winning goal off assists from Joe Thornton and Melker Karlsson.
The Sharks started last season 0-4-0 before they earned their first win, part of a horrendous first month that saw San Jose win just four of their first 13 games. The Sharks would go to finish the shortened season at 29-36-5, missing the playoffs for just the second time in 16 seasons.
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