The San Jose Sharks returned to the comfy confines of the SAP Center to face the Calgary Flames after a long road trip. The Flames, who played the previous night in Arizona, struggled to get their legs under themselves early. They were able to keep the Sharks off the board early but unraveled in the second period. The Flames looked like a team playing on back-to-back nights and the Shark pounced in the middle period to build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.
The Flames came to San Jose fresh off a win against the Arizona Coyotes. Calgary would bend but not break in the first period that could best be described as ‘safe’ for both teams. The Flames would add to their NHL-leading 425 penalty minutes with a pair of minor penalties in the first period but the Sharks would come up empty handed with both man advantages. The Flames would also get a chance on the power play but the opening frame would end with a clean scoring sheet for both sides. The Sharks had the edge in shots at the end of the period with eleven to the Flames six.
The pace of the game would pick up in the second period with Johnny Gaudreau showing his immense skill and quickness for a pair of dangerous chances. But the Sharks would draw first blood as Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot would get to the net and Patrick Marleau would deposit his ninth goal of the year to give the Sharks the 1-0 lead at 5:35 of the middle period.
The Sharks continued to push the pace and Paul Martin would get his second goal of the season less than four minutes later with a slapshot from the point that pinballed its way through traffic and past a screened Chad Johnson.
The Sharks would score again at 14:23 as Joonas Donskoi would get his first goal since October 29 on an excellent pass from behind the net after Johnson missed on covering the puck.
Sharks rookie Timo Meier would break in on goal but Johnson would make a stop but Donskoi would score again unassisted to make it a four-goal lead. The Flames were all back in front of Johnson but no one moved to tie-up Donskoi who doubled his season goal total in less than two minutes. Gaudreau would again have a chance on Martin Jones, who stopped the diminutive forward with a minute and change left in the period.
Joe Thornton: 225th multi-assist reg. season game of his career- most by anyone in the NHL since the lockout… the one in 1994-95, that is
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) December 21, 2016
The Flames would come out and try to whittle down the Sharks lead. Matt Tkachuk carried the puck into the offensive zone and passed to Sam Bennett who rifled a shot past Martin Jones to finally get Calgary on the board.
The goal would get some energy flowing for the Flames before Lance Bouma ran into Martin Jones after turning the corner on Brenden Dillon and taking the goaltender interference penalty.
The Sharks third power play of the night would end just like the first two: lots of puck possession time without a goal. The best would actually from Mikael Backlund shorthanded but Jones would make the save. The Sharks pressure on the Flames would draw the fourth penalty of the night when Mark Giordano held Patrick Marleau at the side of the Flame net. The Flames penalty kill would remain a perfect, killing off the Giordano minor.
The Flames would continue the parade to the penalty box to extend their NHL lead in penalty minutes when rookie Matt Tkachuk was shown the gate for holding the stick of Mikkel Boedker. But as the trend for Calgary minors kept going, so did the lack of San Jose power play goals. In the end, the four-goal eruption in the second period would be too much for the Flames to come back from and 4-1 would be the final.
Patrick Marleau (9) Assisted by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Thornton
Paul Martin (2) Assisted by Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi (3) Assisted by Tommy Wingels and Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi (4) Unassisted
Sam Bennett (8) Assisted by Matt Tkachuk and Dennis Wideman
THW Three Stars
First Star: Joonas Donskoi (two goals)
Second Star: Martin Jones (20 saves)
Third Star: Joe Thornton (two assists)
Per @EliasSports Patrick Marleau (1,444) and Joe Thornton (1,400) became the 3rd set of NHL teammates to each appear in 1,400+ games
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) December 21, 2016
San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers
SAP Center – 7:30 PM PST on Friday, December 23, 2016
Broadcast Channels: CSN-CA
Season Series: First Game of the Season