Timo Meier Debut Sparks San Jose Sharks Scoring
The Timo Meier debut sparked the San Jose Sharks to four goals against the Montreal Canadiens Friday, Dec. 16…
The much-anticipated Timo Meier debut was everything the San Jose Sharks could have hoped. He scored the game-winning goal on his first NHL shot to beat the best team in the league Friday, Dec. 16.
The Montreal Canadiens came into the contest with the best point percentage on the 2016-17 NHL season. They had the best home record and just one regulation loss in 17 games at the Bell Centre. However, they were without three regulars while San Jose’s only injury was Tomas Hertl.
Still, Meier could not have asked for a better debut than to score the winner against the most-storied franchise in hockey. After his attempt was blocked, he won a battle behind the net to retain possession for the Sharks. That is when he headed for the crease to put himself in position for the rebound.
He also continued to play well over the remaining 46:42. He finished with four shots and two hits over just 10:03 total ice time.
Fast Start, Shaky Finish
However, the fact that he scored the game-winning goal in the first period does point to a problem. Montreal managed just four shots in the first period and allowed three goals. Moreover, San Jose held a 4-0 lead with 10 minutes left.
David Schlemko scored his first with the Sharks through a Kevin Labanc screen 6:50 into the contest. Two other struggling forwards—Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi—assisted on the score.
The San Jose Sharks made room for the Timo Meier debut by scratching popular right wing Joel Ward. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Schlemko and Donskoi also assisted on Meier’s score. Between those scores Patrick Marleau buried a one-timer feed from Joe Thornton behind the net on another power play. That ended an odd run of goals right after a power play expired to help San Jose’s 18th-ranked unit.
Thus, the Sharks started with their best 20 minutes of hockey this entire 2016-17 NHL season. The second period was a mixed bag.
The Canadiens outshot them 14-4 but Melker Karlsson scored the only goal on a blue-collar assist from Micheal Haley. There was no doubt who was in command after that.
San Jose managed just five more shots over the final 33:16. However, Montreal could not solve Martin Jones for the first 50-plus minutes.
Finally, Thomas Plekanec threaded a pass across the slot to Bryan Flynn on the rush to break the seal. Just 3:20 later, Jeff Petry made it a game again.
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Jones kept the Sharks from blowing the lead. He was phenomenal beyond what his 26 saves in 28 shots (.929 save percentage) might suggest.
The early lead skewed the event summary numbers but they still show which team spent more time on the attack. The Canadiens swept the possession numbers (34-23 faceoffs, 13-15 giveaways and 4-3 takeaways), had five more shots (28-23) and an astounding 36 more attempts (73-47).
San Jose supported Jones with an impressive 32 blocked shots (to 14 for Montreal) and had a 26-16 edge in hits. That was good enough to win a fourth straight for the first time this 2016-17 NHL season and stay atop the Pacific Division.
The Sharks finish the road trip at the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday. The three-time Stanley Cup champions visit the St. Louis Blues Saturday.
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