SAN JOSE — The 1993-94 Sharks’ record of shame is safe for now.
The Sharks (1-2) avoided becoming the franchise’s first team in 24 years to open a season with an 0-3 record Thursday, picking up their first win of the 2017-18 campaign by knocking off the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at the SAP Center.
The 1993-94 Sharks, who won over the hearts of Bay Area sports fans by upsetting the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, opened the season with a franchise-record eight-consecutive losses.
But the Sharks won’t be joining them in infamy because they received a Herculean effort from their revamped third line, which scored two goals and combined for a total of six points.
With Tomas Hertl skating alongside Logan Couture on the second line, Chris Tierney slid in between Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi on the third line, a combination that controlled possession of the puck throughout the game.
Meier recorded the game-winning goal at 14:30 of the second, breaking a 2-2 tie by slamming in the rebound of a Donskoi shot that squeaked through the Sabres defense.
Donskoi set up the Sharks second tally at 15:11 of the first, allowing Tierney to score a tap-in goal from the doorstep by feeding him with a no-look backhanded pass from below the goal line.
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“We just wanted to go as a line,” Tierney said. “We felt like the last two games we didn’t really generate much offense, the three of us. We all got put together, coming from different lines, so we decided it was time to have a good game.
“We just worked hard tonight.”
The teal faithful should be cautiously optimistic about the trio’s performance Thursday as the Sharks will need bounce back seasons from Donskoi, Tierney and Meier to contend in the Western Conference.
“If we’re going to win games, we’re going to need contributions from our depth,” head coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’re going to have to be a four line team.”
Hertl scored the opening goal at 2:15 of the first, knocking in a Kevin Labanc pass from the side of the net on the power play. Jason Pominville scored both of the Sabres goals off odd-man rushes, exploiting miscues by the Sharks third-defensive pairing.
Martin Jones, who was pulled in the second period of the Sharks loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, picked up his first win of the season, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced.
“We need Jonesy,” DeBoer said. “He’s like everybody else, we’ve been spinning our tires a little bit. It was nice for him to get a big game. He made key saves at the right times tonight.”
— Joakim Ryan made the right decision when he reached a fork in the road 12 years ago.
After earning Sweden’s second-overall ranking in tennis for his age group as a preteen, Ryan faced a hard choice when he moved back to New Jersey in 2005: follow in his mother’s footsteps and attempt to land a spot on the pro tennis tour or pursue his passion and continue to play hockey.
The Sharks defenseman decided to bet on the underdog, a choice that was validated when he made his NHL debut Thursday
“I just played tennis when I was younger, never know where that would have went,” Ryan said. “I always wanted to play hockey, and obviously, I’m glad that that’s the sport I chose and I stuck with it.”
Ryan is drew into the Sharks lineup after being sent to the AHL Barracuda out of training camp because the team needed a left-shot defenseman to replace Paul Martin on Brent Burns’ pairing.
He skated for 21:24, posting an even raising while impressing his coach.
“He did great,” DeBoer said. “For a kid to come in, first game, I think he played 20-plus minutes. I thought he did a great job.”
Martin left practice Tuesday with a lower-body injury and is currently considered day to day.
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