Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's shootout win at home

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in San Jose's shootout win at home

SAN JOSE – Things didn’t work out too well for the Sharks the last time they faced off against the Predators. This time around, they came to fight.

San Jose put up quite the effort against the tough Central Division club to take a very exciting 1-1 game into overtime.  In the end, it was Timo Meier with the lone marker in the shootout to give the Sharks a 2-1 victory – their third win in a row.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday night's game.

A goalie battle. Who knew.

With both Martin Jones and Juuse Saros going into Saturday’s game with goals-against averages worse than .900, it’s pretty impressive there wasn’t a scoring frenzy. Instead, both netminders put on quite a show – yes, even the home team’s starter.

Compared to some of the games San Jose has played recently, Jones played pretty darn well Saturday night. He was particularly impressive during the Sharks' third-period penalty kill when he stopped two Nashville chances that could have easily broken the tie. After a couple of games where he’s given up the game-winning goal late in the third and erased the positive work San Jose’s offense has done, Jones put up a solid, winning performance on Saturday. 

Setting the pace

San Jose knew they had a tough test ahead of them with the Predators coming to town. The Nashville squad is both a tough team to beat AND was sure to be extra angry coming off of a 9-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. But instead of allowing the Preds to set the tone of the game early on, San Jose gradually built up the pace on their own terms, 

This was a significant improvement over how the Sharks played in Thursday's game against the Wild when they dominated the first period and then lost control over the next 40 minutes. San Jose’s energy built up with every minute of the third period and made for a very entertaining period of overtime. 

Sticking with it

In past games, the Sharks have sat back when the opposition has scored the first goal. So when they couldn't convert on a power-play opportunity less than a minute after Filip Forsberg scored the opening goal on the evening, it looked as though San Jose might have lost their mojo for the rest of the night.

But the Sharks regained their momentum and continued chipping away at Saros, who was standing on his head as San Jose's skaters crowded him. That relentless push finally paid off when Tomas Hertl found the back of the net in the third frame.

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Mario Ferraro has surpassed the wildest of expectations in his rookie season with the Sharks, and it hasn't exactly been an uneventful one.

Since making the jump straight from college to the pros, the 21-year-old defenseman has witnessed a mid-season coaching change, the acquisition and eventual trading of a franchise legend, a seemingly endless string of serious injuries to roster cornerstones and -- oh yeah -- an indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Not exactly your average rookie year.

Technically, Ferraro's rookie season hasn't come to an end -- at least not yet. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that there currently is too much uncertainty for the league to be able to determine when the season might be able to resume, though he hopes to "know more by the end of April." In any case, even if San Jose was able to play out its remaining games, there are only 12 left. Considering the Sharks fell to the absolute bottom of the NHL standings right before the season was paused, an additional playoff run is entirely out of the question.

So, for all intents and purposes, we can't really consider Ferraro a rookie anymore. He has 61 career NHL games under his belt, so, really, that has been the case for a while.

Ferraro flew back to Toronto shortly before the Bay Area's shelter-in-place orders went into effect, and has been doing his best to stay in shape while living at his parents' house. In a recent discussion with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil, he described an important lesson that was crucial to his development as a rookie.

"I think one small thing that's actually not small at all when you really look at it," Ferraro said, "is just preparation and that mentality of staying even-keel the whole year. What I mean by that is not getting too high on the highs or too low on the lows. You have so many games and so many important games that if you have a good game one night, you better forget about it because you gotta do the same thing the next night. Or, vice versa, if you play poorly, you really gotta forget about it and bounce back strong.

"And it's not just from game to game -- it's from shift to shift. You're playing in a league that has really fast players, strong players. You can get exposed, and it's going to happen. People are going to make mistakes. I'm a defenseman, so I feel like you're more bound to make mistakes ... they're more glaringly obvious. From a mental perspective, you really have to learn to just kind of say, OK, it happened. Move on. Let's get back to my game and play hard."

While Ferraro is correct that no player is exempt from making mistakes, he didn't have too many glaring errors throughout his first season in the NHL -- or at least, he did a good job covering them up. He earned the trust of the coaching staff and was rewarded with additional opportunities, which he proved capable of handling. Over the last eight games before the season was paused, Ferraro averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per night.

[RELATED: Leonard reunited with college roommate Ferraro on Sharks]

In terms of mentors on the team, Ferraro specifically mentioned fellow defenseman Brent Burns as someone who has been tremendously helpful to him. And like seemingly everyone else in that locker room, Ferraro is a big fan of Joe Thornton. But ultimately, it has been a team effort in supporting Ferraro throughout his rookie year. It takes a village, after all.

"Nobody's counted out on this team," Ferraro explained. "They're all great guys. They've all taught me a ton this year, and we're really close. It has been a good learning curve for me."

While we're all focused on flattening the curve, it has long been evident that -- as a rookie -- Ferraro's wasn't very steep.

Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart

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AP

Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday there is too much uncertainty for the league to determine a target date to return amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and that they hope to "know more by the end of April."

“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options," Bettman told NBC Sports' Mike Tirico on "Lunch Talk Live" on Tuesday (via Pro Hockey Talk). "We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light -- and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can.

"We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”

The NHL suspended its season on March 12, a day after the NBA did the same following Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test. Eight NHL players -- three on the Colorado Avalanche and five on the Ottawa Senators -- have tested positive.

[RELATED: Matthews, Marner detail how bromance with Marleau began]

Bettman said reports of the NHL looking into playing the remainder of its season at neutral sites -- including North Dakota, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman -- reflected how "extraordinarily competitive" the teams were as they tried to ensure a fair finish to the regular season. The commissioner said the "best thing" for the NHL would be to finish the season as they normally do, but Bettman said the league understands that might not be possible.

"[That’s] why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is," Bettman said. "Again, it doesn’t even pay to speculate because nobody in any of the sports knows enough now to make those profound decisions.”