Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 1,000th win in franchise history

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from 1,000th win in franchise history

BOX SCORE

When the Golden Knights scored the first goal of the night 94 seconds into the game, there was instant concern that the Sharks would suffer another smackdown in Sin City. 

But Team Teal didn’t let Vegas run away with this one. It was an absolute battle, but the Sharks managed to get their first regular-season victory at T-Mobile Arena, 3-2.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game:

You have to like the Sharks’ response

San Jose prevented Vegas from scoring a ton of goals like they did in their last meeting with the Golden Knights. They also held off Vegas’ power play, which was important, given San Jose’s penalty kill hadn’t been quite as sharp over its last stretch of games. But, most importantly, the Sharks settled down after giving up that first goal and began pushing back against the tough Golden Knights squad. 

It didn’t look at first like the pushback was working, since the Sharks only tallied one shot on goal through more than half of the second stanza. That is, until the Kane-Hertl-Donskoi contingent kept their hot streak alive and Hertl beat Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the score at 1. That line then kept rolling to give the Sharks their first lead of the game in the third period.

Birthday Boy made the big saves

Martin Jones deserve a lot of props for his outing, as he was tested way more than Fleury on the other end of the ice. Jones buckled down after letting that first goal get by him just a little over a minute into the contest, making some very important saves that kept Vegas from adding to their lead early in the game.

Jones also had some nice support from his teammates in front of him. Thursday’s game ended up being a very defense-heavy event, with neither team giving the other a ton of room to work. On the couple of instances the Sharks did get hemmed into their own zone, they gave Jones room to make key saves.

It certainly was unfortunate for San Jose when traffic in front of him prevented him from seeing Jon Merrill’s go-ahead goal at the start in the third period. But boy did Jones make up for it when the Golden Knights got that late-game power play.

So if these teams see each other in the playoffs …

… it probably will be a great series. But it also will be a blood bath. The Golden Knights play a heavy game and bring out that same kind of play out of the Sharks. In both games against Vegas, San Jose has registered a record number of hits.

Heading into Thursday’s contest, the idea of playing a playoff series against the Golden Knights sounded incredibly unappealing to the Sharks -- especially with how bad their last game was against the new Pacific Division foe. While San Jose still has things to work on if it's going to defeat Vegas in a long series, Thursday’s game definitely was encouraging.

Sharks prospect Noah Gregor has family connection to organization

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AP

Sharks prospect Noah Gregor has family connection to organization

SAN JOSE -- To Sharks fans, Noah Gregor might just look like another new player in a teal sweater.

But the 21-year-old rookie forward has a much closer connection to the organization than most would realize.

Sharks director of media relations Ben Guerrero revealed on Twitter on Saturday that Noah's father, Colin, once played for San Jose Barracuda coach Roy Sommer. 

Gregor did, too, at least before his Saturday call-up to the NHL. The 21-year-old has scored three points (goal, two assists) in three AHL games this season.

The Beaumont, Alberta native expects his parents to be in attendance in San Jose on Saturday evening when he is set to make his NHL debut against the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres. 

"They're probably on a flight right now," Gregor said Saturday morning.

Gregor's family involvement in hockey doesn't stop there. His uncle is TSN 1260 (Edmonton) radio host Jason Gregor, who excitedly posted about Noah's impending NHL debut on Twitter.

Gregor's strong start to his AHL career came following a close call at training camp. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday morning that Gregor could've made the big club out of camp, but "handled it the right way" when he got reassigned before the start of the season. 

"We try to do this on merit," DeBoer said of Gregor and the Sharks' rookies who have made their NHL debuts this season. "He was a guy who was close to staying at the beginning."

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on Sharks return in ride to SAP Center]

Although he's listed as a center, Gregor is expected to file onto the Sharks' fourth line Saturday night, skating on Dylan Gambrell's wing opposite Melker Karlsson. Gregor hasn't played very much with every player, but he seemed confident he could step into this role, even if some first-game jitters follow. 

"I'm sure there will be some nerves before the game starts," Gregor admitted. "But I'm sure once I get that first shift out of the way, I'll be fine."

Can prospect Noah Gregor end Sharks' revolving door of depth forwards?

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AP

Can prospect Noah Gregor end Sharks' revolving door of depth forwards?

SAN JOSE -- Another game, another new look to the Sharks' bottom-six forwards.

San Jose recalled forward Noah Gregor from the Barracuda on Saturday ahead of the Sharks' game against the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres. Gregor is expected to pencil into the Sharks lineup with Lean Bergmann getting reassigned to the AHL in his place and Lukas Radil out sick.

Injury and illness often necessitate lineup changes, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer isn't a big fan of constantly rotating his forwards. 

The Sharks have given young players the chance to make the big club since the start of training camp. Bergmann and recently reassigned forward Danil Yurtaykin made their NHL debuts in October, but DeBoer is ready for someone to truly seize a role so his lineup doesn't change on a nightly basis. 

"I don't want to rotate anyone out," DeBoer admitted Saturday. "I would love for somebody to grab these jobs and us [to] go with the same lineup."

You can understand why he feels that way. DeBoer has mentioned before that the Sharks have had more personnel turnover this season than any other he has coached in San Jose. He has also noted that integrating young players into the NHL isn't an overnight process.

Nevertheless, DeBoer doesn't want this to be the norm. The Sharks spent almost all of last season trying to find a fourth-line combination that would stick, and they're still looking for one. 

Now, the coach wants one of San Jose's young hopefuls to seize the opportunity and lock down a regular role.

"I think every time we put someone in that's my thinking. 'Hopefully, this guy can grab this job' and we don't have to rotate people in and out," DeBoer said.

Gregor is the latest Sharks prospect to get a chance. With three points (one goal, two assists) in three AHL games with this season, DeBoer seems hopeful Gregor inserts himself at the NHL level.

"The reports for the first few games was that he was one of their better players," DeBoer said. "He was a guy who was close to staying at the beginning [of the season]. He went down and handled it the right way, and [he's] getting the opportunity here now."

[RELATED: Marleau reflects on return to Sharks during ride to SAP Center]

Although the speedy 21-year-old has played center with the Barracuda this season, Gregor will pencil in on the wing on the Sharks' fourth line. Dylan Gambrell has started to establish himself as San Jose's fourth-line pivot over the last few games.

DeBoer and the Sharks hope Gregor can do the same as a winger.