Antti Niemi

What we learned when the Sharks spoiled the Devils’ home opener with a 4-2 win

When the New Jersey Devils visited the Tank last season, everyone wanted a matchup between Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl and his childhood idol Jaromir Jagr to be a major storyline.

As it turns out, neither made much of an impact in the 2013-14 tilt in San Jose.

Then again, when the Sharks made their visit to New Jersey on this current early season roadie — despite efforts by other media members to build the matchup into something tangible — there wasn’t a prominent storyline between the two over 60 minutes of hockey yet again.

But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a heck of a game to be had. Here’s what we saw when the Sharks spoiled the Devils’ home opener with a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

Logan Couture: Number 39 let on that he wasn’t happy when he wasn’t named team captain at the start of the regular season. That may or may not have been why he was yet to score a goal in his 2014-2015 campaign. Either way, he tallied three points on Saturday in grand fashion — two assists, plus the Sharks’ second goal of the night. Which came on the man advantage. And while we are on the subject …

Power Play: After three games in which their power play struggled, San Jose notched not one but two goals with the opposition occupying the box. Plus, although their earliest attempts on the PP during this game were not successful, they still looked dangerous, and Joe Pavelski’s opening goal in the premier period proved that it could be effective.

Shot Clock: San Jose’s difficulty putting shots on net against the New York Islanders last Thursday was an eyesore. And, despite it still being early in the season, it was a cause for concern among the coaching staff. Their ability to stay neck-and-neck with New Jersey in SOG (they only trailed 37-32) shows improvement in that department as well.

That three-goal cushion: Since we’ve given credit to what San Jose has improved on, we now have to turn our attention to where work still need to be done. Surprise surprise — it’s being able to play a full three periods of hockey. Team Teal was up 3-0 in the early portion of the third frame, before the Devils found holes in SJ’s defense and were able to get points on the board. New Jersey’s first goal, from Mike Cammalleri, was their first in 95:24.

Scoring recap

— San Jose got on the board late in the first frame. In an opening 20 minutes that featured not much more than a brawl between Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo, the Sharks went on their third power play attempt of the period with New Jersey’s Jon Merrill in the box for interference. Pavelski grabbed possession of a rebound and one-timed it past netminder Corey Schneider to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead before the first intermission.

— On their next power play attempt, late in the second stanza, Patrick Marleau fed the puck to Couture and he buried his first goal of the season to give San Jose a 2-0 lead at 17:52. Pavelski also tallied an assist.

— Couture returned the favor in the early portion of the third period and passed to Marleau, who beat Schneider and increased the lead to 3-0.

— Cammalleri put the Devils on the board at home for the first time this season with a wrister that beat Antti Niemi glove side and cut the lead to 3-1.

— San Jose’s third line, which had been the dominant force on SJ’s offense up until this point, turned the puck over in the neutral zone and gave NJ an opportunity to score, narrowing the score again 3-2. Adam Henrique was credited with the goal.

— But the Sharks notched the insurance goal, thanks to Joe Thornton who buried an empty-netter to solidify the 4-2 final at 18:46. It was Thornton’s 1,200 NHL point.

No party time for the Sharks as they prep to battle the New York Rangers tomorrow in a Sunday matinee. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 pm Pacific.

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