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Notes #9: Sharks Smack Sabres 5-3, Merkley Nets 1st NHL Goal

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Period One

Two in: Don’t love that Leonard forechecking route. Took the long way on the San Jose Sharks’ dump-in, it looks like. Wonder if he was anticipating Buffalo wall pass to the middle or hockey sense mistake.

Seven in: Quick Barabanov pass to Balcers in slot. Before that, Burns and Hertl did a great job up top lobbing passes to each other with a lot of Sabres’ pressure on them. Good defense from Buffalo, better offense from San Jose.

Dahlen goal: It seems Sabres are pressuring a lot up high, so if you can get the point shot through, there are chances to win battles down low. Dahlen outanticipates Eakin for where the loose puck is going.

Ten in: That was poor hockey sense from Leonard, dumps it in another stride from the red line, icing. He knew it as he turned around for DZ faceoff.

Nine left: Eklund rare missed pass, but Dahlen in slot almost able to kick it into shooting position. They’re already fun to watch together.

Merkley goal: Again, Buffalo is pressuring San Jose up high a lot. This time it’s Hertl on the wall, two Sabres swarm him, but he’s able to find Ryan on the weak side.

Three left: Nifty puckhandling display by Ryan Merkley up high.

Period Two

Three in: Don’t love that Merkley defensive shift, but followed by crafty Hertl/Barabanov puck movement and another Balcers chance. Then Meloche with a rough puck touch off the wall, turnover. He and Hatakka, don’t love them with the puck.

Six in: Megna steps up, ties up his man trying to exit. Balcers snaps the puck up, finds Hertl walking down, and a great individual move. Good vision by Balcers and a really good read from Megna to see Cozens in trouble.

Eklund, in general, seems to be having a tough time navigating the neutral zone today. Buffalo is applying a lot of pressure everywhere on the ice, might have something to do with it.

Eight left: Even there, Eklund does great job creating space in corner for himself, but his pass back to point sniffed out. Then coming back down, Dahlen has time in slot after Couture pass, gets fancy and passes it to Eklund coming down, intercepted. I don’t coaches will like that, that looked like a clear shooting situation.

Reimer will have to buckle down: Maybe first bad goal he’s given up this year.

Balcers again stoned — breakaway set up by a hard pass by Burns.

In a mark of who San Jose Sharks coaches are giving defensive trust, Burns in box, looks like Meloche eating up a lot of PK time, after Ferraro of course.

Period Three

The San Jose Sharks have played an excellent game — hopefully they can overcome shaky goaltending:

Five in: That’s a good 200-foot Ryan Merkley shift. Kills Cozens play, then stretches it through sticks to Couture.

Ferraro goal: Good puck battle win by Weatherby, just puts his butt in front of Miller, then centers it. Nick Merkley finds it, gets it to point.

Another Hertl goal: And he deserves all the credit, wonderful individual moves, but Balcers and Barabanov have been excellent linemates tonight.

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