One of the earliest memories I have of Halloween night was watching the San Jose Sharks playing the Florida Panthers before I went out to trick-or-treat. For me personally, the Sharks playing on a Halloween night is like going to a house that has king-sized candy bars.
While results have differed over the 11 games the Sharks have played on Halloween, something remarkable is that they’ve mostly been able to keep it tight in these games – the Sharks only lost by three or more goals one time on Halloween, which was in their inaugural season. These Halloween games, especially in the 90s, also featured a lot of players for both teams being sent to the penalty box, with some games having penalty minute figures in the 20s or 30s, or on one occasion, 62 penalty minutes between both teams. We’ll be taking a look at these Halloween night tilts and what happened in them.
1991: San Jose Sharks vs Philadelphia Flyers
The Sharks’ first Halloween night game came in their inaugural season, when they faced off against a team who conveniently wore (and still wears) orange and black colors in the Philadelphia Flyers. Jarmo Myllys started the game for the Sharks, whereas Hall of Famer Ron Hextall started for the Flyers.
Despite both Link Gaetz and David Bruce scoring for the Sharks in the second period, they weren’t able to hold off a potent Flyers offense led by Rick Tocchet, Rod Brind’Amour, and future Shark Mike Ricci as the Sharks lost 5-2 in the Spectrum.
1993: San Jose Sharks vs Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
The Sharks got their first Halloween night victory when they faced off against the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Despite Garry Valk delivering the first goal of the game for the Mighty Ducks on the power play with four minutes to go in the first period, Jeff McLean tied up the game for the Sharks in the middle of the third period which ended up sending the game to overtime. Tom Pederson then scored the game-winning goal for the Sharks just 1:47 into overtime.
1995: New York Rangers vs San Jose Sharks
A winless Sharks team to that point hosted their first Halloween night game against a surging New York Rangers team at the San Jose Arena. The game turned out much like the 1991 Halloween game against the Flyers – although the Sharks had tried to put up a fight, the Rangers’ offense consisting of Luc Robitaille, Nikolas Sundstrom and Alexei Kovalev proved to be too much for a struggling Sharks team to handle as they lost 5-3.
1997: San Jose Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks
The Sharks played in three consecutive Halloween night games as the millennium drew to a close. In 1997, they lost 5-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center as three unanswered goals by the Blackhawks’ Eric Daze, Todd White, and Alex Zhamnov in the first period set the tone for the game. It was not particularly a good night for Mike Vernon, as he was pulled after the fifth goal, and finished the night with a .762 save percentage.
1998: Tampa Bay Lightning vs San Jose Sharks
The following year in 1998, the Sharks decisively beat the Tampa Bay Lightning at home by a score of 6-1, with Ron Sutter scoring twice and Jeff Friesen tallying three assists.
This game is particularly noteworthy for the third period in which both teams logged 44 total penalty minutes (62 in total for the game) including a game misconduct assessed to the Lightning’s Kjell Samuelsson following offsetting roughing penalties with Owen Nolan and a fight between Stephane Matteau and Cory Cross in the span of 36 seconds.
1999: Washington Capitals vs San Jose Sharks
The Sharks capped off their sixth and final Halloween game of the decade by defeating the Washington Capitals 2-1 off of goals from Ron Sutter and Alexander Korolyuk. Steve Shields had a solid performance, turning in a .963 SV% with 26 out of 27 shots stopped. This game turned out to be a lot calmer than the previous year’s affair with the Lightning, but something fascinating in this game was when Marco Sturm ended up collecting three separate high-sticking penalties in the second period, including two called in one play.
2001: San Jose Sharks vs Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
The Sharks’ Halloween night workload decreased as the team moved into a new millennium. In 2001, the Sharks once again faced the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at the Arrowhead Pond, and took the victory 4-2 off of two goals from Marco Sturm.
Owen Nolan and Marcus Ragnarsson collected the other two goals in the game and rookie goaltender Evgeni Nabokov also had a very strong start, stopping 29 of 31 shots faced.
2002: San Jose Sharks vs Minnesota Wild
Halloween 2002 saw the Sharks take a trip up to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to play the Minnesota Wild. The game was a low-scoring affair, and went into overtime tied 1-1 with Marco Sturm and Sergei Zholtok scoring for the Sharks and Wild, respectively. Zholtok went on to score the overtime goal for the Wild with just about 10 seconds to go in the game.
2006: San Jose Sharks vs Florida Panthers
It was another four years before the Sharks played another game on Halloween, when they took on the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center in 2006. This was another low-scoring affair as the first goal of the game didn’t come until six minutes into the second period when Olli Jokinen scored his fifth goal of the season to give the Panthers the advantage. However, Joe Thornton scored to tie the game just 1:31 into the third period, and on a power play with just under a minute to go in regulation, Christian Ehrhoff gave the Sharks the lead and the win.
By now, you might be able to see a pattern developing– as the decades pass, the Sharks play fewer and fewer Halloween games. This is especially true in the case of the 2010s, as the Sharks only played two games on Halloween night that decade.
2011: San Jose Sharks vs New York Rangers
The first of the Halloween games from the 2010s for the Sharks was against the New York Rangers at the Madison Square Garden, 16 years after the two teams last faced off on a Halloween night.
The Rangers got out to a hot start with goals from Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan before Joe Pavelski got the Sharks on the board with just about three minutes to go in the first period. Logan Couture tied the game for the Sharks midway through the second period, but the Rangers responded with three quick goals in three minutes, two of which came off of the stick of Ryan Callahan. The Sharks were unable to respond in the third period as they lost 5-2.
2015: San Jose Sharks vs Dallas Stars
The most recent Halloween night game the Sharks played was against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, which also turned out to be the first game since 2010 that their former starting goaltender Antti Niemi was on the other side of the ice in a Sharks game. Niemi was traded to the Stars earlier that year.
The Stars scored the first goal of the game via Patrick Sharp just 2:33 into the game, and then expanded their lead to two goals with a shorthanded goal from former Shark Jason Demers in the second period. Joe Pavelski and Matt Nieto both scored in the span of 1:33 to tie the game, but Vernon Fiddler scored with exactly five minutes to go in the period to give the Stars the lead again.
Joel Ward scored on the power play with just about two minutes to go in the period, but it was the last goal the Sharks scored, as a strong third period from the Stars including a goal from Antoine Roussel and an empty-net, power-play goal from Tyler Seguin gave the Stars the win.
The Sharks have played 11 games on Halloween, and have an overall record of 5-5-1, which is pedestrian. Marco Sturm and Ron Sutter are tied for the all-time Sharks Halloween goal leaderboard, with both having three goals to their names. With four assists, including three in one game, Jeff Friesen holds the most assists for the Sharks on Halloween nights. It’s been a while since the Sharks have played a Halloween game, but I know for certain that whenever the next Halloween game is, I’ll probably be watching because I’m way past the acceptable trick-or-treating age, and I’m not particularly a party person.
Hoping you all have a happy and safe Halloween!