The “NHL Sound Bites” column is your daily go-to for the hottest topics in hockey, featuring press conference quotes from your favourite players and staff.
In this edition of NHL Sounds Bites, Timo Meier records a five-goal night with the San Jose Sharks, Elias Pettersson scores twice in a Vancouver Canucks win after a slow start to the season, and Ilya Sorokin bails out the New York Islanders to secure a victory.
Meier Speaks About Historic Five-Goal Game, Boughner Chimes In
Chants of “Timo” rained down at SAP Center on Monday as Meier became the first Sharks player in history to score five goals in a game. Tallying a hat trick in the first period, and adding a pair of goals in the second, he led San Jose to a 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Meier now has 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) in 35 games this season, ranking him first in points on the Sharks, a whole 10 points above second-ranked Tomas Hertl.
“It’s special,” said Meier. “It’s almost, you can’t describe it. Yeah, very special, goosebump feeling. Our fans have been great. So it’s just really, really cool.”
At 25 years old, Meier is emerging as the Sharks’ newest star player. He has shown major improvement over the last five seasons in San Jose, and 35 games into his sixth year, he is already making franchise history.
“When you feel like things are going your way in the game, then you definitely feel more comfortable with the puck and maybe try a shot from the spot where you wouldn’t shoot in another game,” said Meier. “But yeah, just a really nice play by Hertl there, a sauce over on that last goal, and like I said, some really nice setups by our guys.”
Meier was humble in his responses, but deserves all the praise he is getting from around the Sharks organization and hockey world in general. He becomes just the fifth NHL player since 2000 to score five goals in a game, and the first since New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad did it in 2020.
“He’s naturally gifted,” said Sharks head coach Bob Boughner of Meier. “He’s bigger, stronger, faster than most guys in the league. I don’t want to take credit other than just trying to make him a 200-foot player. Timo deserves all the credit. He’s put in a lot of hard work and he’s got to commit to that and he did.”
Pettersson Knows What He’s Capable of After Two-Goal Game, Slow Start to Season
Canucks forward Pettersson has struggled to spark offense this season, but finally came alive in a 4-2 Canucks win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Scoring two goals on the night, he posted his first points in four games and first goals in eight games. The 23-year-old rising star looks to build off a strong performance and increase his production going forward.
“It felt good to contribute and help the team,” said Pettersson. “Of course it’s been tough for me, I’m trying to play my best hockey every game.”
It has been a tough season for Pettersson, indeed. With 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 38 games, he is not living up to expectations. On Oct. 1, 2021, he signed a three-year, $7.35 million average annual value (AAV) contract with the Canucks to begin building his future in Vancouver. So far, it has not gone to plan. But with his two-goal game, he could be getting back on track.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way,” said Pettersson. “Hockey is a fast sport. I know what I’m capable of, of course. It’s been a very slow start for me.”
Thankfully for Pettersson, he will continue to be put in a position to shine for the Canucks. Vancouver still has 44 games left to play and are hoping to push for a playoff spot this season. If Pettersson puts together a hot streak, he can help his team compete for the postseason and rectify his slow start to the year.
“He was our hardest worker at practice and he wants to be the best,” said Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Sorokin Saves the Islanders, Receives Praise From Trotz and Nelson
Sorokin pulled out a 26-save performance to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1 at UBS Arena on Monday. The 26-year-old goaltender has now won three consecutive games, allowing two or fewer goals in each. His victory over the Flyers required his full effort, especially with a second-period surge from Philadelphia.
“The second period, we went south,” said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. “When our power play was not good tonight, they ended up having four or five chances shorthanded, which gave them a lot of momentum. Really, the story was right there: Ilya Sorokin with a couple of outstanding saves. He held in there and then we were able to capitalize on a couple of chances and that turned the game around.”
Among the outstanding saves Trotz referred to, Sorokin managed to deny Flyers forward Scott Laughton of a 2-on-0 goal with Travis Konecny within the first minute of the second period.
“I just work on the puck,” said Sorokin of the incredible save. “I wait for when a player shoots or gives a pass. And he made a shot in the middle, off the net. And I was in a good position.”
Sorokin improves to a .927 save percentage (SV%) across 22 starts this season. In just his second season in the NHL, he is earning the trust of his coaches and teammates with his stellar play.
“He’s pretty reserved,” said Islanders forward Brock Nelson. “He’s a gamer. He’s never out of a save. I think we saw that on the 2-on-0. He’s so calm but, at the same time, he’s always dialed in and he wants to make every save. When he’s on his game, he’s huge for us and he gives us a chance every night.”
Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Sound Bites, and make sure to listen to the THW Podcast every weekday (Monday to Friday) to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.