It was a game of firsts during Sunday’s matinee featuring the San Jose Sharks and the Carolina Hurricanes. The Sharks were the first team in NHL history that played 15 of its first 20 games on the road. On top of that, the travel weary club had to endure yet another challenge: backup goalie Alex Stalock was placed on IR after sustaining a minor knee injury during the Dallas Stars game on November 8. This setback created an opportunity for another first to happen.
Enter goaltender Troy Grosenick, up from the Worcester Sharks, who made his NHL debut – another first – on game six of this seven-game road trip. The 25-year-old averaged .903 last year and .908 this year in Worcester, making him a solid stand-in to give Antti Niemi some rest.
Grosenick was tested early on and faced 16 shots alone in the first period. And the Canes did not let up on the pressure for the entire game. Grosenick faced 15 shots in the second and 14 in the third – a grand total of 45 shots. But that’s not all. He saved all of those shots. So not only was he playing in his first NHL game, it was his first NHL career shutout. Not to mention, he set a record for most saves in a shutout debut in the modern era. The previous record was 41 shots, back in 1967, by Andre Gill of the Boston Bruins.
How’s that for a debut?
Another first happened in the first period involving Sharks’ right winger Tyler Kennedy. During an attack by the Canes, Grosenick dropped his stick and Kennedy came to the rescue, handing him his twig. He then made an incredible save with Kennedy’s stick – I would venture to guess that this was the first time Kennedy’s stick made a save by a goalie. Check out Troy’s awesome save, here.
Looking at the box score, you would think Carolina had this game in the bag, with 45 shots to San Jose’s measly 19. But Grosenick had other plans in mind. While defense was a definite strong point in this game, the Sharks did get two goals. Tomas Hertl scored late in the first, assisted by Barclay Goodrow, who got his first point in the NHL on that assist (Another first!). Then, with seven seconds left in the game, Joe Thornton got an empty-netter, officially making it impossible for the Canes to catch up. Troy Grosenick’s outstanding performance, however, sealed the win.