Erik Karlsson Felt More Comfortable After Shaky Start to Sharks Debut

SAN JOSE -- Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson was on the ice for three Anaheim Ducks goals in his San Jose debut, a 5-2 loss. The first was Brandon Montour's seeing-eye, back-hand shot from the left face-off dot, the second a power-play marker, and the third an empty-netter.

Karlsson didn't seem too stressed about those tallies after the game. 

"Stuff like that [is] going to happen," Karlsson told reporters. "It's a long year, but everybody battled back from it. 

"I want to say something, but it's probably not appropriate," he added jokingly.

Karlsson wasn't as bad in his debut as his plus-minus (-2) might imply. The defenseman led the Sharks in ice-time across all situations (26:48), and finished with a team-high four takeaways -- one of which came in his first shift. 

The two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, who the Sharks acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Ottawa Senators three weeks ago, finished the night with positive shot-attempt and scoring-chance differentials. San Jose dominated possession against Anaheim, but Karlsson did so against the tough competition. Only his defense partner, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, spent more time against the Ducks' top trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, and Troy Terry, according to Natural Stat Trick.

"I thought he was good," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. "We did a lot of good things. We gave up 10-12 shots through most of the game. Created a lot of chances ourselves, didn't finish. [We] didn't extend the lead when we had opportunities to, and that's what happens."

Karlsson had an opportunity to give the Sharks the lead with about five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second period. DeBoer mixed up the power-play units, sending out Karlsson alongside Logan Couture, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and first-period goal-scorer Evander Kane. 

Labanc dished to Karlsson at his right face-off dot. The Swedish defenseman tried to pick the far corner, but Ducks goaltender John Gibson shouldered the shot away and covered it for a whistle. 

That was the only shot got Karlsson got on net, as his other attempts were blocked or missed the net. He attempted just one shot, a wrister from the point that whistled wide, in his first period in teal. In the final two periods, he attempted eight. 

"I think as the game went on, just like everybody else, it felt a little bit more comfortable," Karlsson said. "I was a little bit shaky in the beginning. Pucks were bouncing here and there and you're overthinking stuff  … When the game went along, I think not only me, but everybody else started to feel a little bit more comfortable, and that's the feeling that we want to have."

Overall, Karlsson said the Sharks "didn't play great," but not that poorly either. That's a fair assessment of his debut, too. But the signs were there of what could come, something the fans seemed to anticipate before the puck dropped.

Ahead of Karlsson's official Sharks debut, the crowd greeted him with a loud ovation during introductions. The regulars did, too, but Karlsson -- who is in the final year of a seven-year contract extension he signed with Ottawa in 2012 -- arguably received the warmest welcome. 

"This is a great building," Karlsson said. "Very passionate fans, and you could definitely feel that today. I'm looking forward to playing many more games in this rink." 

Judging by the reception they gave him Wednesday night, Sharks fans are, too.

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