(Photo:Dante Aleghieri via Wikimedia Commons)
Although on opposite ends of the continent and from different conferences, the San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres are evenly matched teams, both with three wins so far going into their matchup in San Jose Thursday night. But it was the Sharks who got the win in only their second home game of the young season after a 5-game road trip, in a 5-1 victory. Sometimes numbers tell a story, and this game did just that.
The first period was riddled with penalties, three for each team, which included a double minor infraction against the Sabres, the result of a high stick by Kyle Okposo. The Sharks were able to capitalize on that first one. Evander Kane shot the puck across the ice to Erik Karlsson who got the puck to the net, but it was Joonas Donskoi’s efforts that sealed the deal. This was Kane’s first of two assists against his former team.
A slashing call on Marco Scandella put the Sabres right back in the box and gave the Sharks another chance on the man-advantage. It was Logan Couture’s first goal of three of the night, and made it 2-0 early in the game. The Sharks drew another penalty, an interference call on Jake McCabe, but it stayed at 2-0 as the period closed. The Sharks’ hands weren’t clean either. Karlsson, Brenden Dillon, and Kevin Labanc all spent time off the ice for minors, but the Sabres came up empty-handed during each opportunity.
Only a minute and a half into the second, McCabe got revenge and scored the Sabres’ only goal of the game. After each team suffered another penalty each, the score remained in favor of the Sharks, 2-1.
Things fired up in the third period, beginning with a fight between Joakim Ryan and Zach Bogosian. While each got five minute majors for fighting, Bogosian was penalized an additional roughing call. This got things into high gear for the last 20 minutes of play. Couture netted his third of the game, and the fourth of the season, sandwiching a goal by captain Joe Pavelski, his fourth of the season as well. That made it 5-1, Sharks. To recap, Couture got two even strength goals, one also being an empty-netter when Sabres goalie Carter Hutton was pulled for a minute and a half late in the game, while Pavelski got a power play goal on Scandella’s second penalty of the game. Couture’s empty-netter marked his third career hat trick.
In the end, the numbers on paper tell it all. The Sabres were plagued with too many penalties, seven in all, while not able to capitalize on the Sharks’ five penalties. Also, the Sharks outshot the Sabres 39 to 25, in what would be Sharks goalie Martin Jones‘ near-perfect game.