SAN JOSE – A day after one of the unlikeliest regular-season wins in franchise history, several Sharks players and coaches – as part of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol — had to return to SAP Center on Sunday to continue to get tested for the coronavirus.

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Other Sharks players, who were already confirmed positive cases, had to remain in isolation, still unsure as to when they would be able to rejoin the team.

That’s just the way things are for the Sharks right now as they get set to host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday without knowing – at least for the moment – who all will be available.

Coach Bob Boughner, forwards Andrew Cogliano, Jonathan Dahlen, Matt Nieto, and defensemen Erik Karlsson, Jake Middleton, Radim Simek, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were all placed in the NHL’s COVID protocol on Saturday, just hours before the Sharks used a patchwork lineup to beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in overtime.

Sharks captain Logan Couture was also ill Saturday and did not play, but his absence was not COVID-related, according to the team.

The Sharks did not have media availability Sunday and the team was not expected to make any formal announcements until Monday when they reconvene for practice about which individuals, if any, were eligible to exit isolation.

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“We don’t know what the outcome is or how long everybody’s going to be out or not out,” said Sharks assistant coach John MacLean, who filled in for Boughner, on Saturday night.

“We know this is a day-to-day league. Every day there’s something. We have a day off (Sunday), they’ll get their rest and we’ll address a lot of things on Monday, and we’ll see where we’re at.”

NHL protocols state that if an initial PCR test is positive, that individual is immediately isolated while a second confirmatory test is conducted and contact tracing begins. Fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic may continue to be tested daily with PCR tests during their period of isolation.

If the individual has two or more consecutive negative tests, the team doctor, in consultation with the club’s infectious disease expert, and if allowable under local health authority laws or regulations, may apply to the NHL’s chief medical officer for an exit from isolation.

According to NHL rules for this season, though, symptomatic individuals who test positive must isolate from the team for at least 10 days and need a doctor’s approval to return once symptoms have disappeared.

COVID-19: After memorable win, Sharks players, coaches wait
to see what’s next 1
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) blocks a shot by San Jose Sharks center Nick Bonino (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron) 

Starting Monday, the Sharks have four games in nine days. After Tuesday’s game with Buffalo, they finish the homestand with games against St. Louis on Thursday and New Jersey on Saturday. They then open a five-game road trip in Calgary on Nov. 9.

The Sharks have never dealt with a COVID issue this widespread before. Tomas Hertl tested positive last season and had to miss six games, but he was the only case. If multiple Sharks must miss several games, including four experienced defensemen, then that would clearly be a big challenge for them to overcome.

At least they have a blueprint for how they need to compete going forward.

The Sharks outshot the Jets 27-20 through two periods and led 1-0 as they played a mostly crisp, detailed game. They stayed above the puck on the backcheck, won races and puck battles, and, per Natural Stat Trick, held the Jets to just four high danger scoring chances over the last two periods.

“We need that. Not just tonight, but every night whether our top guys are in the lineup or not,” said Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro. “It just goes to show that it’s about how we play and how we compete out there, and anything can happen.”

The Jets had 15 shots in the third period, but Reimer made 14 saves to get the game to overtime, where Timo Meier won it with a one-timer that went off Logan Stanley’s stick and past Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

“What’s great about it is that that’s the blueprint regardless of whoever’s in the lineup,” Reimer said. “The way we competed, we were first on pucks, we took care of the puck. It was fun to watch.

“When you have that high level of compete and desperation in your game, it seems like the x’s and o’s and that stuff takes care of itself. Super impressed with how the guys worked tonight.”

Defensemen Ryan Merkley and Santeri Hatakka both made their NHL debuts Saturday and others like forward Nick Merkley and defensemen Jaycob Megna made their Sharks debut. They didn’t know they would be in the lineup until a few hours before the game.

Now that the first one’s out of the way, they’ll wait and see if they get a second game with the Sharks on Tuesday.

“This was a pretty crazy day for a lot of those guys,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns said. “Guys finding out late notice and sometimes that’s the best thing. Those guys got to play their first game with not a lot of time to think about it and they get a good result.”