Sharks Postgame Senators: Gregor, “Our game is going in the right direction.”

The San Jose Sharks can say they ended this home game on a good note, earning the team’s first regular home win with a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Noah Gregor started with his first goal of the season, literally knocking the puck out of the air and preparing for a wrister that slipped past Cam Talbot. Tim Stutzle leveled the game just over halfway through the opening period with a feed from Brady Tkachuk, who was the senator’s only goal in the contest.

San Jose followed with a collection of second-period goals from Timo Meier, Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl (with Hertl coming on the power play). Logan Couture finished the game with a 200-foot empty-net goal that saw the back of one of his skates touch the dashboards as he cleared the puck.

After the win, head coach David Quinn, forward Noah Gregor, defender Erik Karlsson and goalkeeper Kaapo Kahkonen took to the microphone to discuss a home win, Kahkonen’s performance and future developments.

Here’s what they had to say:

David Quinn

About the end result coming their way: Very nice. I was really proud of our boys, great bounce back win. We got better and better as the game went on – Kaapo did a great job in the first half and kept us there. We were a little loose on the puck, but once the second period got going we managed the puck really well, taking away time and space. Really proud of our third period, it was a really smart third period – we didn’t give up much, we managed the situation. Just happy for our boys.

About the conversation between the first and second hour: I liked a lot of things we did, mainly just the puck management was a bit loose. We cleaned up after the first two minutes of the second and made the game easier for ourselves and we have to do that. Our special teams came out great again, Powerplay scored an important goal and our penalty shootout was huge again – just a really solid performance.

On the power play goal: It was a hard-fought goal on the power play. Sometimes when you get on the power play, you play the power play instead of just playing hockey. You lose sight of the fact that you still have to earn it, still have to win puck fights, still have to go to the net, still have to do all the things the game requires [at] 5-on-5 and carry it over to 5-on-4. We did that really well on that power play.

On Kahkonen: As we mentioned earlier, his confidence wasn’t where it needed to be at the start – about a week and a half ago. He’s built his confidence, he’s worked hard, he’s done a really good job – Tom Speer has done a great job with him over the past 10 days to get him mentally right more than anything. He was big tonight.

[I’ve had conversations] with him and Tom. It’s also just watching him, watching him train, you can just see him getting better and better, just really happy for him.

About Gregory: Gregor played well. Not just the goal – I know we’re all looking at it – it’s nice that he was included in the scorers’ list, but he did a lot of good things tonight.

On Couture’s comment on Karlsson as league MVP: What can happen when you coach a player like that, you spend a lot of time with other people and just take it for granted. We spoke today and I just said to him, ‘You’ve been amazing, not just on the ice but off the ice’ – all the things that he needs to do for us to be the organisation, the team we need to be be. I was blown away by his game, it was amazing to watch. I agree with what Cooch said.

In the third period: I loved our third period, it was pretty much all year round. Our situational hockey was really good, we let them go 200 feet. You had a chance [at] 5v5 in the third period – it was a really smart period.

About the Cicek hit: That should have been a penalty. You look at it and it’s a headshot. They shrugged when I asked them about it, but I know the league is really focused on protecting our players.

To look ahead: We feel it should be better. We feel like we played better, but it’s not like they’re going to re-rate the games and give us extra points. We just gotta move on, build on tonight, keep planning. It’s a long season and we’ve got 21 games under our belt – we’ve got a lot more hockey to play and we just have to keep improving. We improved tonight – we ticked a box tonight: how to deal with a lead, which we weren’t particularly good at. Really proud of our boys.

Noah Gregor #73 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the first period of an NHL hockey game at the SAP Center on November 21, 2022 in San Jose, California.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Noah Gregory

On his first goal of the season: It’s a little weight off my back just to score – a bit of a frustrating start for me so it’s really nice to see one go in. I had a chance – a little runaway at the beginning – and then the puck came back up to Kunin and fired it and I was able to knock it down, flip it and fire it and luckily it went in.

About the conversation between the first and second hour: Our game was pretty solid, but there were some things that we needed to tighten up a bit. Overall, it was a pretty good start to the game.

On Quinn’s message coming in tonight: He wasn’t too happy with our game – we kind of stayed longer than we probably should have. We haven’t had a home win in a while so we just wanted to protect our home ice, get a big win tonight and move on after that.

On Kahkonen: He played great tonight. I’ve worked with him a lot here and I know the work he’s doing, so it’s really great to see him. He’s a great goalkeeper so we’re confident with him back there and he did a great job tonight.

To look ahead: A lot of good things happen in our game – we’re in games most nights and our team is busy. We play hard, we play right, it’s just refereeing, late giving up of goals, things like that that cost us some points but our game is going in the right direction. Tonight is a big win and we can carry it through the rest of the month and into the Christmas holidays.

In the third period: With a lead in the third game we did a good job giving them just that one goal. They have some players who can make plays and create chances and we knew they would try to cheat a bit to get back in the game and we did a good job containing them.

Ottawa Senators' Alex DeBrincat #12 takes an effort on goal and shoots past San Jose Sharks' Erik Karlsson #65 during the third period of an NHL hockey game at the SAP Center on November 21, 2022 in San Jose, California.  The Haie won the game 5-1.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Eric Karlson

About the end result coming their way: We started a little quietly, but we cleaned up pretty quickly. We played like the better team for the last 40 minutes and it was a nice home win for us – it’s been a while.

We just started holding pucks more instead of trying to rush things and that builds momentum. We had a couple of good shifts where we had a lot of pressure and although we didn’t score we kept at it. If you keep going like this, eventually someone will post it in the back of the web.

On Kahkonen: It is great. Like Reims’ last game, he played incredibly for us and saved us an embarrassing evening. We all want these guys to do really well. They work really hard every day and we want them to be successful, we want to play well in front of them. When we’re not, it’s nice to see they’re there to support us.

On the power play goal: We did a good job – we didn’t force anything, we moved the puck until someone had a good opportunity to kick it. If you do that, everyone will be able to retrieve it.

To look ahead: We believe it is possible to resort to it. I don’t think we’re thinking about anything other than the next game. We try not to look back too much, try not to look forward too much, we have a lot to do and we know it. The atmosphere in this group was good from day one, although we didn’t win as much as we wanted – we have to build on that and think about that until it’s time to really push.

On Couture’s comment about him: That’s very nice of him. Unfortunately we are where we are in the league table and you don’t win games alone or with a good season individually, that’s how I see it. I hope we can find a way to become a more competitive team and get a place in the playoffs to fight. We’ll see where we end up and the rest will take care of itself.

Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen #36 of the San Jose Sharks saves a glove hand from a shot by Tyler Motte #14 of the Ottawa Senators during the first period of an NHL hockey game at the SAP Center on November 21, 2022 in San Jose, California.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Kaapo Kahkonen

On what he has refined: Small details – straight to the shots or being closer when I’m on the ground. If you have plenty of practice time, you can work on small things. I felt good tonight.

About the end result coming their way: They did a good job – we did pretty well. Every time they shot through when I made a save, they were inside, picking up sticks for me to grab the puck or we could clear it. We shut it down really well in the third. We did a good job of giving them nothing.

Every time you win a game in this league, I’ve learned that there are no easy wins, there are no easy games, it always takes a tremendous effort from everyone on the team to win in the NHL. Every time that happens, it’s a great feeling.

About a victory song in the dressing room: When we do that, it’s really bad. Every time we’ve won a game – I don’t know who’s responsible for that – I would hope for a little more consistency and maybe a better choice. I can record a song and it’s no problem, but so far it’s been a bit weak. We can improve that.

*Edited slightly for clarity.


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