SAN JOSE — No one wanted to admit it earlier in the week: falling into an 0-3 hole would have put the Sharks season in serious jeopardy.

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Opening the schedule with a five-game homestand, the Sharks needed to put points in the bank this week before heading out to the East Coast for a five-game roadie to Newark, Brooklyn, New York, Boston and Buffalo on Oct.18, a trip that has wreaked havoc on the team’s record in recent years.

It’s a long season, but you can’t afford to fall too far behind in the first two months of the schedule. Over the last 12 years, roughly 75 percent of teams that have been in playoff spots on Thanksgiving have advanced to the postseason.

With that in mind, captain Joe Pavelski expressed relief that the Sharks earned their first win Thursday night.

“You drop the first two, that third one you start thinking about it a little bit,” the Sharks captain said. “Especially opening up at home the way we have… it’s a little unusual, so to get that first win was very important tonight.”

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Here’s what we learned in the Sharks 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the SAP Center.

1. Sharks revamped third line shines in debut.

Head coach Pete DeBoer suspended the Tomas Hertl project at center this week, moving the affable Czech up to the left wing position on Logan Couture’s line to give the Sharks more scoring punch in their top six.

He didn’t know that the move would ignite his third line, inspiring a trio of depth players that the Sharks will need significant contributions from this season to contend in the Western Conference.

With …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

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