The guy with the least amount of experience was the absolute best player on the ice.
Troy Grosenick stopped all 45 Carolina shots he faced in helping his otherwise sluggish club to a 2-0 win over the Hurricanes on Sunday at PNC Arena, earning a shutout in his first-ever NHL game.
A 25-year-old former Hobey Baker finalist, Grosenick was, quite simply, the sole reason the Sharks - outshot 45-19 for the game - were able to come out on top in improving to 3-3-0 on their seven-game road trip.
The performance was an historic one, too. According to Elias, his 45 saves were the most by an NHL goalie in a debut shutout since the 1979-80 expansion season.
Grosenick made a number of difficult stops throughout, and preserved a 1-0 lead late. He got just enough of his glove on a Jiri Tlusty blast, made a pad stop on a point shot by Andrej Sekera that deflected towards the net, and gobbled up a Jeff Skinner blast with about a minute to go.
Joe Thornton’s empty net goal at 19:52 put the game away for San Jose, clinching the win for Grosenick.
Despite getting outshot 16-5 in the first period, the Sharks were able to grab the lead late in the frame. On a two-on-one rush, Tomas Hertl tried feeding Thornton on a pass that was broken up by Sekera. Hertl stayed with the loose puck and managed to push it inside the far post for his first goal in seven games at 18:46.
Earlier in the period, Grosenick made strong stops on Elias Lindholm and Nathan Gerbe, and with nine minutes to go in the frame, robbed Victor Rask with a right pad while lying prone on the ice.
It was more of the same in the second period, as the Hurricanes poured 15 more shots on net to the Sharks’ nine. Grosenick did the splits to deny Zack Boychuk after the Carolina forward beat Justin Braun to the front of the net midway through regulation.
The Sharks improved to 2-5-0 in their last seven games in Carolina, earning their first win there since Nov. 1, 2009.
Carolina was 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Sharks failed on their only advantage.
San Jose has killed off 12 of 13 opponent power plays over the last five games.
Grosenick, who was called up in place of an injured Alex Stalock on Monday, allowed Antti Niemi to rest after four straight starts.
Carolina went with backup Anton Khudobin, who made 17 saves after starter Cam Ward played in Boston on Saturday.
Rookie Barclay Goodrow earned his first NHL point with an assist on Hertl’s goal.
Matt Nieto was scratched for unspecified reasons, while Tyler Kennedy took his place on the wing of Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. Tye McGinn drew in on the fourth line.
Nieto left for a brief stretch late in the game in Columbus on Saturday after going awkwardly into the boards, and has just one goal on the season, scored in the season opener on Oct. 8 against the Kings.
The Sharks will conclude their road trip in Buffalo (4-13-2) on Tuesday. The abysmal Sabres, who own a -38 goal differential through 19 games, won the only other meeting of the season series at SAP Center on Oct. 25, 2-1.
San Jose has already played the most road-heavy schedule in league history, as no NHL team had ever played 15 of its first 20 games away from home, according to Elias.