If recent scores are any indication, the Anaheim Ducks and host San Jose Sharks should be evenly matched when they meet for the first time this season on Tuesday night.
The Ducks are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday evening. The Sharks beat the Maple Leafs by the same score in overtime on Thursday.
San Jose lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Oct. 25 and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday. The Ducks lost to the Lightning 4-2 on Wednesday and the Golden Knights 4-0 on Friday.
Both teams begin the week at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings, but there’s hope in each locker room that they can turn their seasons around.
“There’s times in the season when things don’t go your way,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “It’s unfortunate for us that it started right out of the gate, but we will continue to work through it.”
Both teams still have plenty of talent on their rosters.
Anaheim forward Troy Terry, who exploded for 37 goals and 30 assists in 75 games last season, has 10 points (four goals, six assists) through the first nine games this year.
Trevor Zegras scored two goals against the Maple Leafs on Sunday, including the game-winner in overtime, giving the 21-year-old center six goals in the first nine games.
Zegras didn’t score his seventh goal last season until Dec. 15. He went on to post 23 goals and 38 assists in his first full season in the NHL, making him the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best rookie each year.
“I’ve definitely gotten stronger since last year. I can definitely say I’ve got a little bit quicker,” Zegras said. “I think my jump off the line is a little bit better than it was last year.”
The Sharks lost their first five games of the season but are 3-3-0 since.
After beating the Maple Leafs in overtime on Thursday, San Jose was aiming for two wins in a row for the first time this season, but thy gave up the go-ahead goal to Tampa Bay with 57 seconds left.
“I think we’re going in the right direction, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to win hockey games,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “And, unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.”
One of the early bright spots for the Sharks has been veteran defenseman Erik Karlsson, who didn’t deliver as expected in his first four seasons in San Jose.
Karlsson, who twice won the Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman when he played for the Ottawa Senators, scored two goals against the Lightning to give him six goals and five assists in the first 11 games this season.
He had 27 goals in his first 211 games with San Jose.
Karlsson said the Sharks need to stop worrying about making mistakes that may end up costing them a game, and just play more loosely.
“In order to win games in this league, you’re going to have to take some risks,” Karlsson said. “Over time, we’re going to learn when those risks are appropriate to take and when they’re not.”
–Field Level Media