Patrick Marleau scored the first goal of the Sharks' season with a beautiful move in front of Miikka Kiprusoff, dragging the puck to his backhand side, and stuffing the puck in the corner. Throughout the course of the game, however, Marleau was not done. He finished the night with two goals and "first star" honors.
Admittedly, the Sharks started the game with a lackluster first period performance. The Flames demonstrated superior chemistry, scoring one goal, and peppering Sharks netminder Antti Niemi with 16 shots (compared to the Sharks' nine). It was clear the Sharks were showing signs of "growing pains" (i.e. needing to get used to playing together), as it is commonly the case when a new season begins. Niemi, however, displayed absolute brilliance in the net by not only stopping many shots, but many quality shots. Star players on the Flames team, such as captain Jarome Iginla, had clear opportunities to score, but Niemi was right there to keep the shots from barreling past him. The reason the Sharks had the opportunity to recover from the first period was due to Niemi's shot blocking mastery.
The Sharks' performance during the second period put all of the doubters to rest. Three unanswered goals were scored during the second period by the Sharks, with an additional fourth during the third period. During the second and third periods, the Sharks' chemistry was beginning to come together, and Niemi continued to demonstrate his unbelievable skills. The combination became too much for the Flames.
Advantages Sharks fans are familiar with, such as dominance in the corners and in the offensive zone, were beginning to be demonstrated. Joe Thornton was beginning to display his passing skills. Dan Boyle was beginning to show his ability to stay out on the ice and still make great plays.
The all-familiar Sharks were back.
Let us hope the Sharks cam continue to win a significant amount of games. With an abbreviated 48 game season, there is no time for the team to gradually develop into a "hot" team. They must win now. The Stanley Cup is up for grabs.
Some honorable mentions for today:
- Matt Irwin, Sharks defenseman, played his first NHL game today, and was paired up with the veteran Dan Boyle. Despite claiming to have the "first game jitters," he played a fantastic game and provided opportunities for the team to get chances on net, and finished the game with a +1 rating.
- Adam Burish, Sharks forward, played his first game with the Sharks today. As some fans remember, he was the agitator type player on the Chicago Blackhawks when they made their run for the Stanley Cup in 2010. We would like to welcome him to the Sharks and would like to wish him a great and successful season with us.