The Sharks got critical contributions from unexpected sources in their first win of the season. But on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens, it was the usual suspects who ensured San Jose would remain undefeated.
Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson each tallied a goal and two assists, while Logan Couture added two helpers in the Sharks' 5-0 win at the Bell Center, as the players San Jose will most depend upon this season led the team to a victory in the first game of a five-game road trip. Goaltender Adin Hill stopped all 21 shots he faced, including a few big stops in crucial moments, and made sure the Sharks' quick start would last.
Rookie Jonathan Dahlen gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead just 3:36 into the contest with his first two career NHL goals, with Meier and Couture earning the primary assists on each. Dahlen's goals, which came 2:14 apart, constituted the shortest time period between any player's first two career goals in Sharks franchise history.
Karlsson scored in the final minute of the first period to give San Jose a commanding 3-0 lead, and Meier notched his first goal of the young season on the power play just over three minutes in the second to make it 4-0. The Meier-Couture-Dahlen line was humming all night, combining for three goals, seven points and 12 shots in the victory, and has particularly been a bright spot through the Sharks' 2-0-0 start.
"They've had some chemistry throughout camp and we've kept them together for the most part," coach Bob Boughner said of the top line after the win. "It's a combination. (Dahlen)'s a real smart player and I think he's a big complement to that line. ... And I think Timo's just found a different gear. He looked like a man amongst boys out there tonight. ... That line's really clicking. It's nice to see."
"Timo is playing so well, and (Dahlen) is such a smart player, easy to play with," Couture told reporters. "I think we read really well off each other. Timo and I obviously have played with each other for a long time. When he's like this, I try to get him the puck as much as I can, and he usually makes good things happen with it."
Kevin Labanc made it 5-0 in the third period with the Sharks' second power-play goal of the night, as they now have four power-play goals through two games. Hill earned his first shutout and has been a calming presence in net. And thus far, the moment hasn't been too big for the youngest players on the roster.
But in terms of the Sharks' ability to continue to surprise this season, as they have through their first two games, no development has been more promising than the performance of the players who will be most crucial to their success.