It was far from pretty, but the Sharks held on to get a 2-1 win Thursday against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
San Jose, riding high on two impressive wins to begin the 2021-22 NHL season, struggled throughout the game, but somehow managed to overcome their sloppy play and come out on top.
Despite allowing a first-period goal, the Sharks played relatively well out of the gate, then faltered in the second period. Their resiliency and the overall structure of the team allowed San Jose to overcome their own mistakes.
“I thought we had a good first period," coach Bob Boughner told reporters after the game. "It looked like we lost our legs a little bit and looked a little tired towards the second half of the game. We still stuck to our details and our structure. They gave us everything they had.
“Even though we played quite a bit in our own end, I thought we tried to keep a lot of things to the outside. I would say our starts have been good, and our structure has been good.”
Captain Logan Couture -- who scored the first of the Sharks' two goals Thursday night -- echoed what his coach said, and credited the defense for blocking important shots.
“We didn’t have our best legs tonight, didn’t have our best stuff, turned too many pucks over throughout that game … We just worked, and blocked shots at the end,” Couture said after the win.
“We were playing a pretty good hockey game to start off, out-shooting them. Within the first 10 minutes, we were in their end for the majority of the time.”
The Sharks' new goalie, James Reimer, had a stellar night defensively, denying the Senators on 30 of their 31 shots.
After allowing the early goal to Senators' Drake Batherson, Reimer trusted his (and his team's) ability to play through any level of adversity and appreciated his teammate's willingness to sacrifice their bodies.
“We grinded, we battled, so many guys were blocking shots, sacrificing their body, taking hits," Reimer said. "It was a pleasure to watch when you’re playing and you have a guy that jumps over the bench that’s willing to do things to win.
“It’s a 60-minute game, things are going to happen. Whether it’s your team mentality or your personal mentality. For myself, when I allow a goal within the first 10 minutes of the game, you just have to brush it off and trust your game. Same with the team, you just have to trust that your game is going to be good enough.”
Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson had high praise for his goalie, and one of his newest teammates. In what ended up being a sloppy performance all-around, it was Reimer who Karlsson believes won San Jose the game.
“Yeah, this was a great win for us," Karlsson told reporters. "I don’t think we played good at all, this was a sloppy game. I feel like you could tell that they had a little bit more energy, they had a little bit more bounce. We found a way to win, that’s the most important thing. This was an important win for us, to go through this and to know what it takes to win on a daily basis no matter what team you play.
“[James Reimer] played great for us today, I think that he won us the game. We’re going to need that because there’s going to be games like that throughout the year. Luckily we found a way to win and that’s the most important part.”
The Sharks are off to an undefeated 3-0-0 start and appear to be capable of winning in many different ways -- a recipe for success as they look to return to the playoffs.