The San Jose Sharks staved off the wrong kind of history.
Behind 38 Mackenzie Blackwood saves, the 1-10-1 Sharks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1, to avoid what would’ve been an NHL record 12th consecutive loss to start a season.
Anthony Duclair and William Eklund scored for San Jose. It was the first game-winning goal of the 2021 seventh-overall pick’s career.
It was a joyous scene post-game. The music was pumping and everyone was smiling.
“A lot of relief in here, everyone’s happy,” Blackwood said with a huge smile. “It’s been a long time coming. Now we can take a breath and start to try and put some more together.”
It was far from a perfect game – the Sharks were outshot 39-19 – but they’ll take it.
“After everything, we had a tough start, [played] a lot of the best teams in the NHL. Some injuries. Last two tough games. Probably the hardest start in my life,” Tomas Hertl reflected.
Hertl was asked the last time that he wanted a win so bad. Blackwood was grateful for how his teammates stood up for him tonight. Eklund discussed his scream after he scored. Head coach David Quinn thinks Blackwood can be an elite goaltender.
Hertl, on last time that he wanted a win so bad:
Maybe in playoff time. Probably never.
After everything, we had a tough start, [played] a lot of the best teams in the NHL. Some injuries. Last two tough games. Probably the hardest start in my life.
Hertl, on San Jose Sharks’ 60-minute effort tonight:
Tonight, we stick with it, even if they got the late goal in the second.
We [kept] fighting. We [said] let’s play like it’s 0-0, play the same way and we will win the hockey game. That’s what we did and we have to do every night.
Blackwood, on what was different in front of him tonight:
We were desperate in the D-zone. Everyone was clogging up the middle, collapsing to the net, taking away the second chances and stuff. I thought they did a great job of limiting the second chances, not giving up too much odd-man rushes and just trying to play more patient above the other team and not letting them get behind us.
They did a good job of boxing out. We made a note before the game on the PK and in the D-zone, taking away certain shooting lanes and keeping sight lines available to me and they did a great job tonight.
Blackwood, on the room after the game:
It’s nice. A lot of relief in here, everyone’s happy. It’s been a long time coming. Now we can take a breath and start to try and put some more together.
Blackwood, on how the San Jose Sharks defended him tonight:
Yeah, that’s amazing. I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. But when they step in and show they care, that’s a good team.
Eklund, on the feeling from the first win this season:
Yeah, I love winning.
Eklund, on his “primal scream” after scoring:
Yeah, that was a big relief. It was just more of getting our team on the board there.
I don’t know. Lion scream or something? Just yelling out loud.
Eklund, on if this the happiest that he’s ever seen a locker room:
No, this was a big relief, to be honest.
Quinn, on the team celebration in the locker room:
We’ve stuck together through all of this. If you’re going to have success in any organization in any sport, you got to have everybody together. And we have it.
Quinn, on the team’s compete tonight:
There’s a cost of winning, right? It’s not just making plays, it’s what you’re touching on. The second period jumps out because we had a great sequence where we spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. There were three smart changes. The blocked shots, I thought the structure was much better. We protected the middle.
I thought Okhotiuk and Rutta were very good tonight.
Quinn, on how the team stood up for Blackwood tonight:
We were standing up for each other all over the rink tonight. That’s a great sign.
Quinn, on Blackwood tonight and this season:
I think you’re seeing a guy that can be an elite goalie in this league. I’ve been so impressed with him. Obviously, I saw him when I was with the Rangers and he was really good that year. A lot of goalies have started their careers at the age of 26. Started Hall of Fame careers. Built like he is, his demeanor and his athleticism, boy, you got a chance to be special in this league.
Quinn, on using tonight as a springboard:
We talked about just outcompeting your opponent physically, mentally. And having fun, enjoy it.
It’s easy to say, you don’t want your team to grip the stick too tight. Had many conversations yesterday about what my role is in that, right? Obviously, the losing can play a role in it, but what can I do to not add to that, right? Sometimes coaches can do that. I know I’ve done it in the past. I’m sure I’ve done at some point in time during the course of this season.
I was looking at back off, to give them some freedom and just play free, be the player you’re capable of being. They told me I didn’t do it, I think they lied to me. (laughs)
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