Sharks down sluggish Leafs 5-3 to stay perfect

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TORONTO — Jonathan Dahlen scored the winner and Adin Hill made 30 saves as the San Jose Sharks stayed perfect on the young season by defeating the uninspired Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Friday night.

Logan Couture added two goals and an assist, while Timo Meier, with a goal and an assist each, and Erik Karlsson provided the rest of the offence for San Jose (4-0-0).

Jason Spezza, Ondrej Kase and John Tavares replied for Toronto (2-2-1).

Michael Hutchinson stopped 26 shots for the Leafs, who have scored just 11 times in five games to open the schedule.

Auston Matthews, who returned from off-season wrist surgery in Monday’s thrilling 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, is without a point through two outings.

While the home side had three days off between games, the Sharks played for the third time in four nights, including Thursday’s 2-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators.

Friday’s puck drop was scheduled for 6 p.m. ET with the Leafs set to embark on their first trip to the U.S. since March 2020 right after the game ahead of Saturday’s tilt in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

After a sleepy opening periodthe offensive floodgates in the second period.

Couture scored his second goal of the season at 2:31 after winning an offensive zone draw when he banged home a Marc-Edouard Vlasic wraparound attempt.

Spezza, who lost the faceoff on Couture’s icebreaker, replied when he banged home his second of the year just 56 seconds later on a scramble in front of Hill.

But the Sharks responded 17 seconds after that when Meier fired an innocent-looking shot that found its way through Hutchinson, who got the call with Jack Campbell scheduled to start Saturday and Petr Mrazek (groin) out injured.

Kase evened it up for Toronto once again at 10:24 when he blocked a Tomas Hertl shot and raced in all alone. The Leafs winger beat Hill with a move to the backhand before crashing into referee Wes McCauley, but both got up unscathed.

The visitors took a lead for a third time at 11:55 when Karlsson blasted his second on a bullet upstairs on Hutchinson, who made his first NHL start since April 4, after Matthews threw a blind pass in an attempt at exiting the Toronto zone.

San Jose stretched its advantage to 4-2 just 25 seconds into the third when Dahlen took a pass from Couture and fired five-hole on Hutchinson for his third.

Toronto got its second power play of the evening with eight minutes gone in the period, but couldn’t get much of anything going.

The Leafs got back within one at 13:39 when William Nylander’s shot went off Tavares in front and dribbled over the goal line for his first to make it 4-3.

Karlsson hit the post off the rush with two minutes to go with Toronto pressing at the other end.

Hill then flashed the leather on a Matthews one-timer off a Tavares drop pass, but Couture iced it into the empty net with under a minute to play.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press