The San Jose Sharks fell 4-0 to the New York Islanders to begin their five-game East Coast road trip. They were shut down by a bounce-back performance from Robin Lehner, who battled tough circumstances during the offseason.
The San Jose Sharks were absolutely stymied by Islanders backup Goaltender Robin Lehner in a matinee performance which mirrored the price of admission for most matinees.
For Lehner, the chances of putting on a pair of pads and a mask were slim entering the summer’s long offseason. During the past spring, Lehner opened up about a suicidal state he found himself in due to an untreated bipolar condition and a weakening fight with addiction and alcohol.
After losing his job with the Buffalo Sabres and facing diagnosis of bipolar disorder, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the 27-year-old netminder worked extremely hard over the summer with the New York Islanders training staff to make his return back to the National Hockey League.
With the sun shining over the Brooklyn Bridge for the mid-day matinee, Lehner rose to the occasion and stood tall in his first assignment of the season. The Swedish netminder put on a masterful performance in the Islanders 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
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With a hungry San Jose Sharks squad seeking to steal two points in their first of a five-game road trip, Lehner took on the challenge with a full-hearted effort to secure his ninth career shutout at Barclays center Monday.
The crowd roared of approval all throughout the contest as Lehner and San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones danced in an exceptional goaltending duel. In the end, Lehner came out on top as he held down the fort with 35 saves.
In the opening minutes of a rare morning battle, both teams started cool and crisp right out of the gates, setting a smooth pace of play for the toe-to-toe toss-up. After 20 minutes, it was the goaltenders that displayed the biggest smiles on their faces.
The Sharks and Islanders both racked up high danger scoring chances on the power play. The Sharks tallied a game-high nine shots on goal on special teams with Tomas Hertl, Erik Karlsson, and Timo Meier just missing the back of the net on their first PP opportunity.
The Islanders kept a steady pace of their own on the man-advantage, collecting 7 grade-A scoring chances, and it was New York that broke the deadlock over midway through the second period.
On the third power play of the game, Josh Bailey whistled a high shot off Jones’ shoulder pad and the Islander captain Anders Lee tucked it home right in front of the doorstep to give his team a 1-0 advantage.
The Sharks retaliated quickly, sending out the Hertl-Couture-Labanc line, which was by far the best line in today’s matchup for the San Jose Sharks, to extinguish the Islanders’ momentum, however the trio could not put on the finishing touches after some sharp work down low behind Lehner.
The score remained the same entering the third period, but that’s when the wheels fell off for the Sharks. After head coach Peter DeBoer changed up his lines to spark some offense early into the period, the Sharks hunted deep in the Islanders’ zone, stripping Islander defenders of the puck and piling on shots at Lehner, who took each and every one of them to his glove.
The Sharks became aggressive on offense, rushing up on numerous odd-man attacks, however that would prove be the beginning of the downfall.
The fourth line of the New York Islanders excelled on the counter-attack. Scott Mayfield and Matt Martin capitalized on turnovers by San Jose in precarious situations and recorded their first goals of the season.
An empty-netter by Casey Cizikas put the cherry on top for the Islanders and Robin Lehner dazzled in a very remarkable return to the ice.
Despite losing 4-0, the Sharks looked terrific on the power play and created some high-quality scoring chances. Rourke Chartier filled the gap on the fourth line and looked impressive in his NHL debut, collecting three shots on goal.
The Sharks have a quick turnaround as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.