David Quinn

Sharks deflated in season opener by defending champion Golden Knights

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The Sharks had their work cut out for them to open the 2023-24 NHL season. The defending-champion Vegas Golden Knights were in town, and for nearly 40 minutes, the young Sharks stuck with them.

But with 90 seconds remaining in the second period, Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead. Less than one minute later, Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy scored again to make it 3-1.

“I thought that really deflated us,” Sharks coach David Quinn said after the Sharks’ season-opening 4-1 loss. “I thought we played a good [second] period for 18 minutes. They had two scoring chances in the second period up to that point, and boy, it really deflated us. It really took the wind from our sails.”

Vegas scored again in the third period to put the game away. Two days after raising the 2022-23 Stanley Cup champion banner at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights are 2-0-0. The Sharks, on the other hand, dropped their season opener for the second consecutive year.

The bright spot for San Jose was forward Filip Zadina, who scored to tie the game 1-1 in the first period. It also marked Zadina's first goal in a Sharks sweater after he signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract this offseason.

"I thought he had a good night," Quinn said of Zadina. "The goal, I'm sure, will do wonders for his confidence. But one of the things he has given us since he's been here is an honest effort. And that's all you can ask for."

The Sharks feature one of the league's youngest rosters with prospects like William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau still learning on the job. There aren't many expectations for San Jose this season, but Quinn would like to see his club bounce back from mistakes much quicker moving forward.

If they don't, it might be a long season for the team in teal that finished with the fourth-fewest points in the NHL last season.

“I didn’t like how we got deflated. I liked our physical effort, but we’ve got to as a group collectively, we’ve got make sure that, guess what, someone’s going to score a goal on you," Quinn said. "You’ve got to make sure to handle it, dust yourself off, have the next best shift and stop the bleeding.

“But we didn’t do a great job of that tonight.”

The Sharks return to the ice Saturday to host the Colorado Avalance at SAP Center. Tune in to NBC Sports California at 6:30 p.m. for “Sharks Pregame Live.”

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