Hill was Sharks' 'best player' in frustrating loss to Rangers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Sharks were unable to win their fourth-consecutive road game Friday night, losing 1-0 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
If they had won, it would have been the first time that the Sharks beat all three New York metro area teams in consecutive games on the same road trip after beating the Islanders Thursday night and the Devils on Tuesday, according to Sportradar.
With the offense getting shut out, it was a strong showing defensively, specifically from goalie Adin Hill that kept San Jose in the game. Playing in both games of a back-to-back, Hill was called upon in a big way and responded by surrendering just one goal in each game.
“He played extremely well, gave us a chance to win," coach Bob Boughner said of Hill postgame. "That’s what we needed from him tonight. He was our best player, there’s no doubt. It’s nice to see him back with some confidence and playing big in the net.”
“He’s a confident guy, I don’t think his confidence has wavered at all this year," Sharks captain Logan Couture told reporters postgame. "He started off really, really good. We didn’t play very well in front of him. He works extremely hard in practice, he’s a very good goalie. He’s playing well, two really good games in a tough situation back-to-back when he hasn’t played for a bit. Happy for him.”
Having last played in a back-to-back as a member of the Arizona Coyotes last season, Hill believes the opportunity has allowed him to get into a rhythm.
“It’s nice to play back-to-back once in a while," Hill said postgame. "I find that you get in a bit of a rhythm because you go to bed and it’s right back at it. It was nice, obviously, you want the two points but I feel like we played a good game, stuck to our game.”
The Sharks are a much better team defensively this season, thanks in large part to both Hill and goalie James Reimer's play in-net, as well as a new defense-oriented scheme San Jose implemented this offseason.
"Guys have bought in," Couture said. "The coaching staff brought it to us in camp, a new system, a new defensive zone that we were going to play. They said you may have to give up some offense at times to play that type defensively, but it’s going to help us win hockey games. Every single guy in that room has bought into that and it shows.”
Friday night's loss was another one-score game, something the Sharks will see a lot more of down the stretch. If they hope to make the playoffs, games like these will serve an important purpose in preparing a young Sharks team for more competitive hockey in the postseason.
“Every game is 1-0, 2-1, 3-2," Couture added. "We enjoy it, though. One-goal games, you get down to the stretch of a season and a lot of games are going to be one-goal games. We’re definitely getting experience playing in these.”
The Sharks will get a much-needed day off Saturday before wrapping up their five-game road trip with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.