Sharks successes need to start at drop of the puck

Sharks successes need to start at drop of the puck

If there’s one lesson the Sharks can take from their Saturday night contest against the Vegas Golden Knights, it’s that they can’t let a team taking an early lead get them down. 

In a general sense, that doesn’t sound so tough. It’s not as if San Jose hasn’t rallied back from a deficit before. But after Vegas scored the opening goal on a bounce, 14 seconds into Saturday’s game, the Sharks had trouble getting out of their own zone and exited the first 20 minutes of play in a 4-0 hole.

[RELATED: Sharks lose big against Vegas]

“There’s no excuse for getting run out of the building in the first period there,” Evander Kane told the media after Saturday’s loss. “We have to have a better start. We have to stop the bleeding after that first goal.”

Brenden Dillon agreed.

“Even if something like that goes wrong in the first shift, to not let it snowball. To stop it right there -- to answer back.”

Harnessing that ability to answer back as quickly as possible can go a long way for Team Teal as their current road trip continues with back-to-back games on the East Coast.

Their first challenge will come up right away in Buffalo as they try to snap the Sabres’ nine-game winning streak. Buffalo is currently 11-0-2 when scoring the first goal on the evening and 10-0-2 when leading after the first frame. 

[GOLDMAN: Sharks' emotions get best of them]

San Jose’s next opponent, the Maple Leafs, hold a similar challenge. Toronto is currently undefeated when they score the first marker 10-0-0. Plus, they can win without putting as many shots on net – opponents are outshooting the Leafs 786-766 but still coming up short on the scoreboard.

The Sharks do have the advantage of already seeing both the Sabres and Leafs through this early part of the season. Buffalo let their emotions get the better of them when they visited San Jose back on October 18 in a fight-heavy match that led to a 5-1 victory for the Sharks. Toronto visited SAP Center just two weeks ago for a back-and-forth contest that the visiting Leafs eventually won 5-3. 

But regardless of how those games shaped up, San Jose has to be ready to battle from the drop of the puck in these two up-coming contests. Being aggressive right from the start can help them avoid the fate that was handed to them by the Golden Knights.

“It’s a good lesson at this time of year I guess,” Joe Pavelski said of getting behind on Saturday night. “We just have to be better in that situation.”

Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist


Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist

Tomas Hertl put on a show for the fans during the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Saturday night, but he won't be bringing the game's MVP award back with him to San Jose.

That's in large part because the Sharks center wasn't even one of the four finalists for the award.

A few minutes before Hertl scored the game-winning goal for the Pacific Division, the NHL posted a poll question on Twitter asking who the MVP of the game should be.

Keep in mind that the game was tied 4-4 at the time of the poll question. Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl, Ottawa's Anthony Duclair, Boston's David Pastrnak and Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk were the four players nominated for the award.

Hertl's game-winner was his fifth goal of the night, which led all scorers. In the Pacific Division's semifinal win over the Central Division, Hertl netted four goals, including the final three of that game.

Pastrnak won the award with 36 percent of the vote, but we're guessing Hertl would have gotten a higher percentage had he been a finalist.

After the night's festivities were over, Hertl met with the media in the dressing room and was asked if he was disappointed he didn't win All-Star Game MVP.

"No," Hertl said. "I think [Sharks assistant coach] Mike Ricci was the first one to text me that hopefully I got for him a new car, but it's all good. I'm happy we won and we won the prize, so it's exciting."

[RELATED: Hertl brings fun to skills competition]

The 11 Pacific Division players will split the $1 million prize money for winning the tournament. Before taxes, each player will take home $90,909.

If Hertl was at all privately bummed he didn't win MVP, that check he's going home with will make him feel a lot better.

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal


Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

Tomas Hertl was pretty quiet for a majority of the NHL All-Star Game Final.

But with 2:36 remaining in the final period, Hertl gave the Pacific Division a 5-4 lead with a breakaway goal.

The Pacific would hang on to beat the Atlantic Division by that same score, taking home the $1 million dollar prize.

The goal was Hertl's only marker of the All-Star Game Final, but his fifth of the night as he scored four in the semifinal game.

Despite Hertl's gaudy numbers and game-winning goal, he didn't take home the All-Star Game MVP. That went to the Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak.

Hertl will receive a hero's welcome when he returns to San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks open the second half of the season at home Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Hopefully for the Sharks, Hertl can carry the momentum into the final few months of the season.