The Sharks played with fire through the first two periods at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night, but thanks to some impressive goaltending from Adin Hill and a strong finish, managed to come away with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
After a scoreless first period in which Calgary put twice as many shots on goal as San Jose, the ice was tilted even more in the Flames' favor in the second stanza, in which they outshot the Sharks 19-8. Hill stopped all but one shot, with the only goal he allowed through the first two periods requiring a lengthy video review to confirm that goaltender interference had not occurred. 30 seconds earlier, he notched his first career assist on Alexander Barabonov's goal to open the scoring.
Brent Burns got the primary assist on Barabonov's goal and made NHL history in the process, as it marked his 550th career point with the Sharks, setting the record for the most points by a defenseman with one team after being traded. But Hill was the first star on this night.
Looking to reward Hill for his efforts, the Sharks put together a much more competitive third period, flipping the script and outshooting the Flames 14-11 over the final 20 minutes. Logan Couture scored the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner just over four minutes into the frame on a shot that deflected off the stick of Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov, and Hill made sure it would last, coming up big on a few crucial saves in the late stages. Tomas Hertl and Jonathan Dahlen piled on with empty-netters, the former of which was also assisted by Hill, but he already had sealed the victory.
The win marked just the second time this season that the Flames had been beaten in regulation, and it likely would have been a different story if not for Hill's play. The Sharks needed every bit of his performance to claim their most impressive victory yet on the young season, but perhaps not any more than Hill needed it himself. Coming off three straight outings -- all losses -- in which he struggled and gave up a combined 11 goals, Hill stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced and truly was the difference in the game.
"It's very encouraging," Sharks assistant coach John Maclean told reporters after the win. "It's the effort we needed. He came out and played a tremendous game for us, and it is a credit to him. He's a young guy and he goes through a little adversity, but then you see how he bounces back. He worked a couple days with [goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov] and you could see he was ready to go tonight, he wanted that win. He held us in when we needed to be held in there, and that's a good sign for us and credit to him that he played as well as he did and gave us that opportunity to get this win."
The Sharks are slowly emerging from their shorthanded state and should be getting several key contributors -- not to mention their head coach -- back in the lineup in the near future. But on Tuesday night against the Flames, they got back the Adin Hill that they've been waiting for.