As with most games, the preseason opener for the San Jose Sharks had positives and negatives Monday, Sept. 16. The important thing is that a power play goal by Tommy Wingels gave them a 3-2 regulation win over their new Pacific Division rival Vancouver Canucks, and there were no major injuries.
The biggest positive may have been that the role-players and reserves got the win. Vancouver did not play Daniel or Henrik Sedin, Zach Kassian, Jannik Hansen, Roberto Luongo, Alexander Edler or Kevin Bieksa. However, San Jose was missing one more top player from the blue line and two more forwards.
Another positive was the shot meter. San Jose had 42 shots and 66 attempts while giving up just 16 and 33. Seldom does a team with nearly triple the shots on goal and exactly double the attempts lose, but this one was a nail-biter because the bad news is they could not beat two backup goalies.
Joe Pavelski got on board 10:38 in (line-mates Wingels and Tomas Hertl with assists) and got an assist along with Matt Irwin on the game-winning goal in the final six minutes. Between them John McCarthy helped his cause to make the team with a second-period goal assisted by Scott Hannan and Brodie Reid.
Still, that might have been enough for a comfortable win had Alex Stalock been impressive in his pursuit of the backup goaltender position. He had just an .875 save percentage, but it is often more difficult to make every save when you are rarely being tested. He faced a standard nine shots in the first 17:46, giving up his first goal on that last shot. Over the next 23:29, he faced only five shots in giving up the game-tying goal 1:15 into the third period.
He needed to make just two more saves all game because of the all-around effort of his skaters. That is extremely positive given the difficulty of the new Pacific Division.
The Canucks won the faceoff battle 35-33, but the Sharks got those two possessions back with a 5-3 edge in takeaways (both teams had just four giveaways—sharp for role-players in the first week of training camp). Being the team doing all the shooting gave them a 21-10 deficit in blocked shots, but that is actually a larger percentage of shots attempted and higher ratio to shots on goal.
Despite the extra time on the attack, San Jose out-hit their hosts 29-26. One reason is that one of the list of three stars had twice as many as anyone else playing.