(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
The Sharks won their first preseason home game on Friday night. They defeated the Arizona Coyotes squad 3-1, or 4-1, depending on whether you count the exhibition overtime session. Sharks goals were scored by Brendan Dillon, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Ben Smith. The Coyotes goal was scored by Antoine Vermette.
Raffi Torres returned to the lineup in the team’s third game of the preseason. He was on the starting line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton but after that Joonas Donskoi played on that top line. Donskoi has impressed in training camp, and his performance Friday continued to show why he is a serious contender for a spot on the NHL roster. Goaltender Al Stalock made his first preseason appearance as well, after sitting as backup for Martin Jones in Vancouver.
The first goal of the game came from Brendan Dillon less than five minutes in to the game. It was a shot from near the point, which bounced aloft in traffic in front of the net, before skipping over Anders Lindback’s shoulder. Assists went to Tommy Wingels and Dylan DeMelo.
At the ten minute mark, the Coyotes had just one shot recorded, to the Sharks’ 8. The Coyotes got another shot in the following minute. A fight and a small melee followed, landing Tommy Wingels, Brendan Dillon, and Arizona’s Brendan Shinnimin in the box. Wingels got two minutes for roughing, Shinnimin got two for slashing, and Dillon got two for cross-checking. The Coyotes had the first power play of the game. The Sharks penalty kill held up pretty well, considering how much trouble they had getting the puck cleared. Stalock made a couple of very stretchy saves to make up for the glitches in the system and preserve the lead.
The Sharks also took the second penalty, this one an interference call on Justin Braun. A penalty kill unit of Donskoi, Vlasic, Tierney and Mueller made efficient work of the first shift. Pavelski, Torres, Dillon and DeMelo finished up the kill for the Sharks.
With two minutes left in the first, the Sharks got their first power play. It was a penalty on Steve Downie for roughing. The Coyotes had less trouble clearing the puck out than the Sharks did. They cleared it a few times before the period and the power play ended, still 1-0 Sharks.
The Coyotes had almost evened the shot count by the end of the first, and did draw even in the first 30 seconds of the second, at 9-9.
The first five minutes of the second showed the Coyotes to advantage. They had several chances attacking the Sharks net, and Stalock was busy. The Coyotes took their second penalty of the game, at 7:23 of the period. It was a holding penalty to Lucas Lessio. The first power play unit again consisted of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Joonas Donskoi.
Matt Tennyson, Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels, Brenden Dillon and Matt Nieto made up the second power play unit.
A blink after that penalty ended, the Sharks got another chance when Arizona’s Dakota Mermis went to the box for holding the stick. This time the power play started with Goldobin, Tennyson, Tierney, Wingels and Mueller. Thornton, Pavelski, Donskoi, Vlasic and Braun were on the second unit, the one that scored.
Vlasic’s shot from the point was deflected by Joe Pavelski in front of the net. The second assist went to Joe Thornton.
In the last five minutes of the period, Mike Brown was called for goaltender interference. The Sharks’ penalty kill seemed to find its feet this time around, pushing the Coyotes out quickly and even mustering a short-handed chance in the first minute.
That penalty kill was tested again, with just over two minutes left in the second. This time the penalty went to Mirco Mueller, two minutes for tripping Steve Downie. There were 28 seconds left in the period when the Coyotes finally got on the board. The power play goal was scored by Antoine Vermette. While partially screening Stalock, he tipped a shot from Connor Murphy. The second assist went to Max Domi.
By the end of the second, the Sharks were well ahead on the shot clock again, 26-18. The score was 2-1 Sharks.
The third period saw the teams off to an even start. In the first ten minutes, there were six shots, three from each team. Mirco Mueller got a round of applause for a fine hit, but there was little other clear advantage to cheer about. The teams seemed very even.
The line of Goldobin, Meier and Smith had a very good shift with around seven minutes left. Meier and Goldobin are well met when it comes to moving the puck around through traffic. It was not the most elegant showing but they showed tenacity and quickness enough to regain control many times.
With just over six minutes left in regulation, Tommy Wingels carried the puck to the net and bumped Lindback. No whistle blew, no horn went off. But the Coyotes went right back the other way and pushed Vlasic into Stalock. The penalty went to Joe Vitale for interference on Vlasic.
On the ensuing power play, Joonas Donskoi scored on the last of three tries by several Sharks in front of the net. His shot was quick and clean and from right in the slot. It was his first goal of the preseason. Assists went to Dylan DeMelo and Joe Thornton.
The final score, before the obligatory 3 on 3 overtime session, was 3-1 Sharks. The shot count stood at 37-26 Sharks. DeBoer started Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as the first trio for the Sharks. The second group were Donskoi, Wingels and Braun. Goldobin, Nieto and Tennyson went third.
For good measure, the Ben Smith scored in the final two seconds of overtime, so the Sharks own the game and the extra game.
The even-strength lines were fairly consistent throughout the game. They were:
Tierney, Wingels, Nieto
Thornton, Pavelski, Donskoi
Goldobin, Meier, Smith
Torres, Lerg, Brown
The defense pairs were:
The Sharks shot leaders for the game were Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joonas Donskoi. Justin Braun and Vlasic led the team in ice time. Al Stalock made 25 saves for the win.
For the Coyotes, Max Domi and Lucas Lessio led in shots, while Connor Murphy and Stephan Elliott lead the team in ice time. Anders Lindback made 34 saves for his team.
The Sharks play again Saturday at 6:00 pm.