SAN JOSE -- Erik Karlsson’s Sharks debut ended with a 5-2 loss to the Pacific Division rival Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Brandon Montour scored the winner with 11:58 remaining in regulation, beating San Jose goaltender Martin Jones blocker side with a back-hand shot from the face-off dot.
San Jose trailed 49 seconds into the game at SAP Center, when Ducks rookie Max Comtois scored his first career goal. Evander Kane tied the score with a highlight-reel goal in the second period, and Tomas Hertl topped it with an unassisted short-handed effort 6:13 later.
Hertl’s goal gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead, but Rickard Rakell answered for the Ducks on the same power play. Adam Henrique added another marker with the man-advantage midway through the final frame, and Carter Rowney sealed Anaheim's win with an empty-net goal at 19:36 in the third.
Here are three takeaways from San Jose’s season-opening loss ...
Special teams have work to do
The Sharks opened their first power play with a five-man unit of Karlsson, Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. San Jose only attempted one shot -- a Karlsson snapshot from 66 feet out -- on two short power plays in the first period.
By the time a second-period power play rolled around, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer mixed up his groups, and sent out Karlsson and Couture with Kane, Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier. That unit moved the puck well, and Karlsson forced a tough save from Gibson on the defenseman’s first shot with San Jose. Burns, Thornton, Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Couture weren’t as effective and didn’t attempt any shots.
San Jose didn't have another chance with the extra man, but it surrendered two goals on two Anaheim power plays. The Ducks scored on their first shot attempt in each instance.
The Sharks' special teams surely will require some attention at practice Thursday.
It’d be difficult to blame Jones on Comtois’ goal, as the rookie scored on a mini-breakaway. The same on either of the Ducks' power-play goals.
But Montour’s game-winning goal certainly was one the Sharks netminder would like to have back. To that point, San Jose held a decided territorial edge over Anaheim, even as John Gibson stood tall in the opposing crease.
It’s far too early to hit the panic button on Jones’ season, even if you take into account his struggles in the preseason. The Sharks will need better from Jones when they embark on a five-game road trip next week.
Had he not added to his highlight reel in the second period, the big Czech forward still would have stood out. Hertl was all over the ice and created dangerous chances throughout the night. The 24-year-old finished the night with three shots on goal, in 16:35 of ice time, playing across all situations.
The Sharks re-signed Hertl to a five-year contract extension this summer, and through one game, he looked capable of taking the next step the team envisioned he could.