It hasn't been the season the Sharks hoped for in 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions forced the team to play its first month of games away from the Bay Area. Even when the team finally was able to play at SAP Center, local restrictions kept any fans from being able to attend games in person in San Jose.
Monday night was the first chance for spectators to return to a Sharks home game in San Jose. The Sharks certainly seemed to feed off the energy of the 520 fans in attendance, as the team snapped an eight-game losing streak and beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-4.
"It was awesome, we've got the best fans in the world and they were a big reason we won tonight," Evander Kane said directly after the Sharks' first game in front of fans at SAP Center in 414 days.
Kane had four points in the winning effort, and the Sharks tied a season-high with six goals, all of which were scored by different players.
The Sharks are slowly increasing the number of fans allowed in the building, but the team did sell every single ticket that was available for the game according to team president Jonathan Becher. Although it was just under 3 percent capacity, Kane could feel the intensity in the building.
"It was great, for 500 fans they were awfully loud and really engaged," Kane told reporters in his postgame press conference. "Gave us a bit of a boost, especially when they started to come a little bit in that second period, it was nice to have the fans behind us and giving us that support. So looking forward to playing in front of them again on Wednesday."
"It was very cool, the fans that we did have were very loud and very into it," Sharks coach Bob Boughner said after the win. "You could tell a lot of people were happy to be here and it was the first time we heard the national anthem all year 'you suck' so it was good."
The win puts the Sharks four points behind Arizona for fifth in the Honda West Division. Five points behind the St. Louis Blues for the fourth and final playoff spot, the Sharks will need to build on the momentum from tonight's victory.
Five of the Sharks' final eight games will come against teams that already have clinched spots in the postseason, and with six of those final eight being played at SAP Center, that home crowd energy will be invaluable as the team tries to claw its way into the playoffs.