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San Jose Sharks spoil Tkachuk's season debut with 2-1 win over Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA — It wasn’t a masterpiece for the San Jose Sharks, but it was pretty enough. Two second-period goals got the job done for the visitors Thursday as they handed the Senators a 2-1 defeat in Ottawa.

OTTAWA — It wasn’t a masterpiece for the San Jose Sharks, but it was pretty enough.

Two second-period goals got the job done for the visitors Thursday as they handed the Senators a 2-1 defeat in Ottawa. 

Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc, on the power play, scored in the middle frame to erase a 1-0 deficit, sending the Sharks (3-0-0) into the third period with a 2-1 lead. 

Drake Batherson was the only Ottawa player to beat James Reimer in the San Jose net. He finished with 30 saves.

The Senators (2-2-0) pressed frantically in the third outshooting San Jose 11-4, but were unable to tie the game thus spoiling the season debuts of forward Brady Tkachuk and goaltender Matt Murray.

 “Again it was our compete level,” Reimer said. 

“It probably wasn’t the prettiest third period, but we grinded and so many guys were blocking shots, sacrificing the body, taking hits. It was a pleasure to watch.”

Tkachuk, who signed a new contract last week, got an assist, while Murray, who missed the first three games with the flu, looked solid in stopping 22-of-24 shots. 

“It was good to get out there. It would have been better with a win. You take the positives and negatives from the game and learn from the negatives,” Tkachuk said.

When asked what the mentality was heading into the third period, Tkachuk said “we needed to get some bodies to the net and get some movement and try and get a greasy goal. That was the mentality.”

There was more bad news for the Senators in the game's opening minutes when forward Shane Pinto went down after taking a hard hit from Sharks defenceman Mario Ferraro. 

Pinto looked to be in significant pain as he left the ice with an apparent shoulder injury. He returned for a shift in the second period but left again and did not reappear.

“He was pretty sore but there was nothing structural, but we’ll see how it is in the morning,” Senators coach DJ Smith said.

Pinto's absence impacted the lineup "big time," Smith added. 

"Obviously he’s a really good player on top of that fact that he plays on both special teams. It’s a huge impact so someone else is going to have to step up.”

Despite allowing the first five shots of the game, the Senators opened the scoring on their first shot as Batherson beat Reimer at 10:06 with the puck grazing the netminder's arm before going in.

The Sharks looked to have tied the game almost four minutes later after Labanc beat Murray to the far side, but the Senators challenged the play for an offside that was confirmed following video review.

San Jose eventually netted the equalizer less than two minutes into the second period as Couture scored his first of the season. He was left all alone at the corner of the crease and took a pass from Brent Burns before quickly going to his backhand and scoring into an open net.

“We didn’t have our best legs tonight, we didn’t have our best stuff. We turned too many pucks over and Reims made some big saves, especially in the third,” Couture said.

“The first 10 minutes we were in their end the majority of that period and then we got away from it. We stopped forechecking, we turned a few pucks over, I was guilty of that, I think I turned three or four pucks over, and they live off that. They want to turn the puck up ice and make plays on odd man rushes. We got back to playing our game in the second.””

Labanc gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 14:36 as he beat Murray with a one timer from the faceoff circle. The goal came on the power play and was Labanc’s second this season.

The Sharks have scored 11 goals while allowing just four in their first three games of the season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press