It’s time to pick an adjective to describe San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier’s performance against the Los Angeles Kings. How about amazing? Or astounding? Perhaps extraordinary? They all fit, as does calling it record-breaking.
Meier scored a hat trick in the first period and finished with a franchise-record five goals as the Sharks took care of the Kings 6-2 on Jan. 17. It was the first meeting of the season between the two Pacific Division rivals and surprisingly turned into a blowout and a personal highlight reel for Meier, the Sharks’ lone All-Star this season.
Meier Has Game for the Ages
Here’s good news: The officials at SAP Center in San Jose didn’t have to spend much time deciding on the No. 1 star of the game. Meier scored San Jose’s first and last goals and had the hometown crowd screaming with anticipation every time he touched the puck as he went for the double hat trick. He has 20 goals this season.
The team record for most goals in a game was four, shared by four players – Evander Kane (March 16, 2018, vs. Calgary), Patrick Marleau (Jan. 23, 2017, vs. Colorado), Tomas Hertl (Oct. 8, 2013, vs. New York Rangers) and Owen Nolan (Dec. 19, 1995, vs. Anaheim). Meier was pretty low-key about his team record.
“Honestly, I don’t even remember (the last time scoring five goals),” Meier said. “It probably was somewhere in junior in the Swiss League somewhere. It was special. It’s a pretty cool feeling. But at the same time, you don’t want to get too high. We get a day off tomorrow, and then it’s back to work. It definitely gives you a lot of confidence, but you want to go back and work hard.”
Meier started his big afternoon with a power-play goal when he took a pass from Brent Burns and fired a wrist shot past an over-committed Jamie Quick for a 1-0 Sharks lead 3:02 into the game. Rudolfs Balcers put the Sharks up by two with his second goal in as many games, and then it became the Timo Meier show.
With 1:12 left in the opening period, Meier pounded on a rebound, spun around, and flipped it high past Quick. He earned his hat trick 21 seconds later when he fired a shot which Quick blocked, received a little help from Hertl, and made it 4-1.
The second period was more of the same. Meier took a pass from Erik Karlsson in the faceoff circle on Quick’s glove side and popped the puck off the top of the inside of the net 1:24 into the second. The record-setting score came with 28 seconds left in the second stanza as Meier took a pass from Hertl, threw in a nice little toe drag between the circles, and beat Quick again. Just to make this more remarkable, Meier scored on three consecutive shifts.
With the game a foregone conclusion, the Sharks tried desperately to get Meier the six-goal game. He came darn close to it, too. He had a 1-on-1 breakaway with a little over 12 minutes remaining in the game but couldn’t convert.
“I can’t remember ever seeing a guy that hot,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “You put in the good, hard work, and you get paid back, and Timo got paid back today. The way he scored, the patience, picking the shot. Those were pretty goals.”
Meier became just the fifth player in the past 25 years to score five goals in a game. The first to accomplish the feat was the legendary Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens, who did it in 1917.
Karlsson, Hertl Earn Accolades
Timo was the star, but two of his teammates also had memorable days. Hertl tied the San Jose record with four assists in a game, a mark that has been reached 21 times. Each of his assists was on one of Meier’s goals.
Karlsson had three assists and now has 500 in his career. He did it in 820 games, the quickest for an active defenseman.
Reimer Looks Strong in Return to the Net
Veteran goalie James Reimer had not played for the Sharks since Jan. 4 due to a lower-body injury, and he came back with a quality outing. Reimer had 39 saves, as the Kings outshot San Jose 41-19.
Adin Hill did an admirable job in Reimer’s absence, not allowing more than two goals in the five consecutive games he played and going 3-1-1. A healthy Reimer and a consistent Hill give the Sharks a nice goaltending combination.
While Reimer was very good against Los Angeles, it was interesting that Kings coach Todd McLellan stuck with Quick for the entire contest. He had no answer for Meier and ended with a .647 save percentage. Reimer had a .951 percentage.
Sharks Slide Into Playoff Bracket
The Sharks are one game short of the halfway mark of the season, and at this point, they would qualify for the playoffs. At 21-17-1, they would be the second wild card team.
It’s early, of course, but things seem to be turning the right way for San Jose. The Sharks are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are finally getting healthy. And beating up on the Kings, who are ahead of them in the division, is an excellent sign.
Scott Linesburgh has been a sports writer for 35 years, and has spent more than 15 years as a pro hockey beat writer. He has covered some of the biggest sporting events, including the Super Bowl and Indianapolis 500. A native of Long Island, N.Y. who grew up as an Islander fan, Scott cover the San Jose Sharks for THW, and is always looking for the stories beyond the box scores.