Big third period effort leads Sharks past Calgary Flames

Big third period effort leads Sharks past Calgary Flames

Logan Couture and Adin Hill helped the Sharks start a daunting road trip with another impressive win without a handful of their regular players.

Couture scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Hill had his best game since early in the regular season as the Sharks earned a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

With Santeri Hatakka skating towards the Flames’ net, Couture threw a puck in the direction of goalie Jacob Markstrom. The puck, though, went off the stick of Calgary defenseman Nikita Zadorov and past Markstrom with 15:42 left in regulation time.

“I had a few good looks offensively and my goal was just a lucky bounce,” Couture said of his fifth goal of the season, “but we got rewarded for a few shifts in a row.”

The Sharks (7-4-1), who killed three minor penalties in the second period when they were outshot 19-8, then held off a late push from the Flames (7-2-3) as forwards Tomas Hertl and Jonathan Dahlen added empty-net goals in the final 63 seconds to seal the win.

“We got away from (our game) in the second and obviously the shots showed (that) on the scoreboard,” Couture said. “We wanted to get back to our game: chip pucks in, work for them. We defended harder in the third, were compact in the d-zone, blocked shots.”

Hill finished with 37 saves as the Sharks improved to 3-1-1 without several players who have been in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol for over 10 days.

Hill, who grew up in the Calgary area, also assisted on the goals by Alexander Barabanov and Hertl, as he became just the second Sharks goalie to record two assists in a game. Vesa Toskala also had two assists in a Feb. 3, 2007 game vs. Chicago.

Brent Burns had the primary assist on Barabanov and Hertl’s goals. His assist on Barabanov’s goal was a 130-foot stretch pass from around his goal line to the Flames’ blue line.

CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 9: Milan Lucic #17 of the Calgary Flames shoves Jaycob Megna #24 of the San Jose Sharks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 9, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

“I made a couple of little plays to Burnzie,” Hill said, “and he did the rest.”

Burns now has one goal and seven assists in his last five games.

“He’s a high-end player and he can make those plays,” Sharks assistant coach John MacLean said of Burns’ pass to Barabanov. “The one thing about Burnzie when he passes the puck: if we’re not going to get it, no one else is going to get it, usually, because he passes very, very hard, which is good to see.”

Milan Lucic scored for Calgary at the 4:18 mark of the second to tie the game 1-1 — a goal that was first reviewed by officials, then challenged by the Sharks, but ultimately stood.

In confirming the goal, the NHL’s Situation Room cited Rule 69.7, which says, in part, the goal on the ice should have been allowed because “in a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.”

It became a footnote, as Hill had 26 saves through two periods to help earn his first victory since the Sharks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Oct. 22.

Hill had lost his last three starts, including a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues last Thursday. He had continued to work with goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov on refining the details.

“It’s more on the same stuff we’ve just been working on. He’s just been reiterating with me to stick with it,” Hill said of Nabokov. “For the most part, I’ve been doing the right things, some mistakes here and there, but just stick with it, keep at it and the results will come.”

Tuesday’s game marked the first time the Sharks had played a Pacific Division opponent this season. The Flames owned a 10-game point streak and Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm both had 14 points, tied for eighth-most in the NHL after Monday’s games.

“This is as good a team as you’re going to find in the National League right now,” Sharks winger Andrew Cogliano said of the Flames on Tuesday morning. “They’re big, they play the right way. They have skill. Their goalie (Markstrom) obviously is one of the best in the league right now.”

CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 9: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames looks for an opening as Nicolas Meloche #53 and Adin Hill #33 of the San Jose Sharks defend during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 9, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The five teams the Sharks play on this trip had a combined record of 32-14-7 coming into Tuesday. Four of the five were in a playoff spot, with the exception being the Colorado Avalanche, who captured the 2021 President’s Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season team.

The Sharks, as of now, are expecting to have coach Bob Boughner and seven players back with the team in time for their game against the Avalanche on Saturday.

Per Sharks assistant coach John MacLean, defensemen Erik Karlsson and Jake Middleton and other Sharks players who have been in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol were all scheduled to skate at the Sharks’ practice facility on Tuesday.

Karlsson and Middleton were not on the ice Monday afternoon when other Sharks players who have been in the protocol did drills for more than half an hour. But they were expected to join forwards Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Matt Nieto, and fellow defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Radim Simek for a skate led by Sharks coach Bob Boughner, who has also been away from the main group for over a week.

“We’re a pretty close-knit group in there,” Hill said. “It doesn’t matter who’s out or who’s in. We’re all here to win. We’re all here to work hard. We’re all here to battle and compete.”

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