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Sharks takeaways: What we learned in impressive 3-1 win over Flames

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Sharks takeaways: What we learned in impressive 3-1 win over Flames

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Coming off a disappointing homestand, the Sharks will be feeling much better about themselves after earning a well-deserved 3-1 road win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.

San Jose gave up the first goal of game, but kept Calgary off the scoresheet for the rest of the night.

Brent Burns pulled San Jose even minutes after the Flames took the lead, and Evander Kane scored shortly thereafter to put the Sharks in front for good. Joe Thornton totaled two assists on the evening, giving him 1,500 points in his career (14th-most in NHL history), while goaltender Aaron Dell was solid in net once again, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced.

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' first road victory since Jan. 4:

Much better road performance

San Jose entered Tuesday's game tied for the third-fewest road wins in the NHL. While it's not as if the Sharks have been a dominant team at home, they've performed far better at SAP Center this season than away from it.

Tuesday night against the Flames was a different story.

It didn't start all that well. The Sharks had a shaky first period, and fell behind less than a minute into the second. The middle frame has been San Jose's best by a wide margin throughout a lackluster season, and the team lived up to that once again, as Thornton found Burns streaking into the offensive zone, who blasted a puck past Calgary goaltender David Rittich to even the score.

Minutes later, Barclay Goodrow made a great pass to Kane from behind the Flames' net, and San Jose had its first lead in a road game since Jan. 5.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the third period, and then added to it. While the Flames had the occasional scoring chance, San Jose did a much better job of keeping its foot on the gas than it had in some recent heartbreaking losses.

The 'banc was open

When the Sharks needed some insurance, Kevin Labanc was there to provide it.

Less than eight minutes into the third period, Labanc picked up the puck off the sideboards in the offensive zone and drove straight at Calgary's net. After some deft stickwork, he roofed a backhander into the top left corner, providing San Jose the all-important two-goal advantage with his 12th of the year.

It wasn't the first time he dangled to create a scoring chance, either, as he similarly did so in the second period, but failed to find the back of the net.

With Tomas Hertl done for the season and Logan Couture expected to be out for several more weeks, San Jose needs its offensively-skilled players to step up. Labanc did so against the Flames, and the Sharks will need more of that moving forward.

Sigh of relief

The Sharks' two best forwards already have sustained serious injuries. Joel Kellman recently was placed on injured reserve for a similar reason. The last thing San Jose needs is more of its future being put in jeopardy. So when rookie defenseman Mario Ferraro went up the tunnel to the dressing room after a big hit from Calgary's Milan Lucic in the third period, it was easy to think the worst.

Luckily, it appears Ferraro avoided it.

[RELATED: Sharks' Ferraro building NHL, YouTube careers at same time]

He remained in the tunnel for a few minutes, but soon returned to the ice and put together a few more shifts in the final period while helping to keep the Flames off the scoreboard. Ferraro has been one of the few bright spots for San Jose this season, and certainly appears to be a major part of the team's future -- assuming he can stay healthy.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl, wife Aneta expecting first child due in November

Sharks' Tomas Hertl, wife Aneta expecting first child due in November

I think we’re all due for some good news. So is Sharks’ All-Star center Tomas Hertl and his wife Aneta.

Aneta announced on her Instagram account the two are expecting a baby in November.

The first photo is the two of them posing together with the sonogram picture. The second is of a baby onesie with “Born in 2020” embroidered on it.

This is fresh off the couple's one-year wedding anniversary which, rumor has it, the big day was quite a fun time.

Back in May, Hertl spoke to the media about his rehab after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee where he vowed he would be better than he was before. But he’ll have to wait.

[RELATED: Ranking Sharks top playoff moments in overtime]

The Sharks will not be participating in the NHL’s a modified 24-team return-to-play format.

That’s OK though, he has something even better to look forward to … a baby Shark. 

NHL expansion draft: Who Sharks might be forced to leave unprotected

NHL expansion draft: Who Sharks might be forced to leave unprotected

We don't know when the next NHL season will begin or end, but once it does, a new team officially will join the fold.

The still-unnamed Seattle expansion franchise will become the league's 32nd team, and in the process, the Sharks will lose a player from their roster as part of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Not everyone in San Jose will be up for grabs. The Sharks, along with the other 30 current NHL teams, will be permitted to protect a group of their players from the expansion draft according to one of two options. Either a) protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or b) protect eight skaters and one goalie.

So, where does that leave the Sharks? 

By narrowing down who San Jose is likely to protect, we can zero in on which players are likely to be exposed.

Automatically protected: Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (no-movement clauses)
Certain to be protected: Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier
Very likely to be protected: Evander Kane

That's six pretty-darn-sure things already, plus an unnamed goalie. So, under this assumption, the Sharks would only be able to protect three more forwards and one additional defenseman under Option A, or just two more skaters under Option B.

Though nearly all of San Jose's top prospects will be automatically exempt due to lack of service time, Jonathan Dahlen -- generally regarded as the Sharks' second-best prospect -- will be eligible for inclusion due to his playing AHL games in 2017-18. So, chances are, they'll protect him as well.

Regardless of which option San Jose goes with, that doesn't leave them many more choices. As such, here are some of the more notable names that the Sharks might be forced to make available to Seattle in the expansion draft:

Brent Burns

What the Sharks decide to do with Burns likely will depend on the trajectory of the team heading into the 2021 offseason. If San Jose successfully turns things around in short order, then keeping the 36-year-old Burns -- who has another four years left on his contract at $8 million per season -- will make a lot more sense than if an extended rebuild appears to be on the horizon.

The Sharks have several large salaries on their books, and making Burns available would be one possible way to alleviate some of that building pressure. Of course, if Burns has a Norris-type season next year, San Jose likely will do everything it can to keep him. More than anything, Burns' performance next season likely will have the most determining effect on who the Sharks make available.

[RELATED: Why Sharks shouldn't be counted out if Eichel seeks trade]

Martin Jones

Assuming he's still on the roster and doesn't have a major bounce-back season, Jones would seem to be one of the more likely inclusions on San Jose's unprotected list. He carries a hefty price tag and hasn't lived up to it for the last couple of years.

Of course, the Sharks don't really have anything in the way of an established goalie behind him -- Aaron Dell is an unrestricted free agent -- so if one doesn't emerge, they might be forced to protect him. If San Jose makes Jones available, that likely means one of the Sharks' goaltending prospects made a significant leap or a free agent outperformed him in the year ahead.

Kevin Labanc

He brings plenty of talent to the table and has been useful on the power play. But Labanc's problem is consistency. On some nights, he's one of the best players on the ice. Others, you hardly notice him. He bet on himself last offseason, but it didn't appear to pay off.

A restricted free agent, San Jose should be able to re-sign him at an affordable price. He still is only 24 years old, though. Should Labanc take a couple steps forward next season, it likely will come at a discount, which the Sharks would likely want to protect. If he's ultimately made available, he could offer the combination of youth and talent that would pique Seattle's interest.

Stefan Noesen

Acquired early in the season, Noesen, 27, made a strong impression during his first year in San Jose. He provided the occasional offense, scoring six goals in 34 games, as well as some sorely-needed toughness. He also immediately became a leader in the locker room.

Noesen currently is an unrestricted free agent, but it would be surprising if he didn't start next season in a Sharks sweater, and he shouldn't be too costly either. If he can build off this past season's performance, one would imagine San Jose would prefer to keep him around. Who else the Sharks protect likely will determine if he can be protected or not.

Dylan Gambrell/Antti Suomela/Alex True

Gambrell has accomplished the most of the three, but he's running short on time. A restricted free agent at the end of next season, he'll be eligible for inclusion in the expansion draft if he plays in at least 20 games. Unless he breaks out, Gambrell seems likely to be one of the names the Sharks leave unprotected.

You could say the same thing about Suomela -- assuming the restricted free agent is re-signed -- who has notched four goals and 11 assists over 47 NHL games across the last two seasons. He's still only 26, but has yet to live up to his potential. True, on the other hand, is younger (22 years old) and was fairly noticeable over the course of his NHL debut this season. He should have a good opportunity to begin the season with San Jose, and would seem to be the most likely of the three to carve out a long-term role with the big club.