SAN JOSE – Neither the Sharks nor their coaching staff were all that content with the team’s performance in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the preseason home opener at the SAP Center on Friday night.
But, well, whatever. The games don’t count yet. Working out the kinks and getting prepared for the regular season opener on Oct. 3 is much more important than the final score in contests that still feature a fair amount of players that will soon be reassigned to the minors.
[Instant Replay: Sharks lose more than just game in preseason home opener]
“There’s definitely a lot of rust out there for a lot of guys. Some guys are a little bit better than that,” said Dan Boyle, who was among a sizable group of key Sharks players suiting up for the first time since last May.
He added: “It was a little rusty, but we’ll work and get better.”
Other than the injury to Raffi Torres, the second period was the most concerning for coach Todd McLellan, who saw his team get outshot 13-6 against a Ducks team that was playing in its fourth preseason game.
San Jose was outscored in the middle frame by a 2-1 margin after taking a 1-0 lead in the first, and lost on Ben Lovejoy’s overtime blast from high in the zone that probably should have been stopped by Antti Niemi.
“I thought our team forgot a little bit how hard it was to play and how hard you have to make hard, firm plays and move the puck quick,” McLellan said. “Their team had played [three games] and some of those players had a game under their belt, and I thought you could see it at times.”
“It’s part of the process of getting through the summer hockey and into the real hockey phase. Tonight, a lot of us had that first taste. We weren’t as good as we needed to be, but it’s something we can work off of.”
Home fans got a chance to see newcomer Tyler Kennedy and rookie Tomas Hertl for the first time, and both players got on the scoresheet. Hertl made up for an early breakaway denial when he poked in a rebound off of the back boards to open the scoring at 14:42 of the first, and Kennedy later converted on a two-on-one shorthanded rush from Patrick Marleau at 8:18 of the second.
Kennedy wasn’t pleased with his first period while playing on a line with Marleau and Logan Couture, but getting the goal later was pleasing to the 27-year-old.
“I thought I got better as the game went on, and it was nice to get that one under my belt,” Kennedy said.
As for Hertl, the 19-year-old played his second preseason game on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. On Monday in Vancouver, Hertl was with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, both of whom sat out against Anaheim.
As each day of training camp goes by, it becomes more and more likely that Hertl will be in the opening night lineup.
“I thought he did a lot of good things in the game,” McLellan said of the first round draft pick. “I thought the game was much faster here than it was in Vancouver the other night, so he got a taste of the speed. He made some nice plays and wasn’t a liability defensively.
“The more he plays, the more it looks like he fits in well.”
San Jose hosts Phoenix on Saturday night, and Vancouver on Tuesday.