SAN JOSE – The Sharks hosted their first regular-season game inside SAP Center without capacity restrictions in over 18 months on Saturday, and it had all the bells and whistles.
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A funky LED light show, a hype video, animation projected onto the ice surface, player and coach introductions – fans got to enjoy it all as long as they were able to get to their seats in time.
Ultimately, though, the announced crowd of 16,137 came to see this season’s team, and they loved what they saw.
Down by two goals early in the second period, the Sharks scored four unanswered, including two in the third period, to help earn an entertaining 4-3 win over the Jets.
Andrew Cogliano scored shorthanded, Jasper Weatherby and Tomas Hertl scored on the power play and Rudolfs Baclers added an even-strength goal at the 5:02 mark of the third period as the Sharks opened the season with a regulation-time win for the first time since 2016.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s game.
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GAME-CHANGING MOMENT: The Sharks trailed 2-1 lead midway through the second period when Jets center Adam Lowry checked Balcers face-first into the glass near center ice. A scrum ensued, with a handful of Sharks players converging around Lowry to show their displeasure.
Then, Sharks defenseman Jake Middleton squared off with the 6-foot-7, 228-pound Logan Stanley. Middleton, giving away four inches in height and close to 20 pounds, held his own against Stanley.
Then with Lowry serving a boarding penalty, Weatherby took a pass from Erik Karlsson and beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck high to the glove side to the game.
The Sharks showed they were willing to mix it up on a physical level with the bigger Jets. When Hertl was leveled by Brenden Dillon
ROOKIE SHOW: The Sharks, for the first time in team history, started the season with six rookies on their active roster, and three made their NHL debuts on Saturday – William Eklund, Weatherby, and Jonathan Dahlen.
All made an impact. Eklund was one of the Sharks’ most noticeable players early on and had the second assist on Hertl’s goal, on which Weatherby also had an assist, looking comfortable in his first pro game and Dahlen was in on a couple of scoring chances.
HILL’S NIGHT: Hill had kind of an up-and-down night in his first Sharks start.
The Jets opened the scoring at the 4:20 mark of the first period. Dillon, in his first game back at SAP Center since he was traded by the Sharks to Washington in Feb. 2020, fired a puck on the net that was stopped by Hill. Dubois, though, was parked in front, fought off a check from Radim Simek, and tapped the puck past Hill for his first goal of the season.
But on the Jets’ second goal, a miscommunication between Hill and Karlsson was hard to understand. The Sharks were on the power play and Karlsson went back deep inside his own zone to retrieve a puck that had been sent the length of the ice.
For some reason, Hill played the puck just as Karlsson was about to pick it up. Instead, the puck went off Karlsson, was gathered by Lowry, and sent out front to Andrew Copp, who shot it past Hill at the 1:09 mark of the second.
Hill, though, rebounded to stop five more shots in each other in second and third periods.