In win col­umn on 3rd at­tempt

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTS - By Ross McKeon Ross McKeon is a free­lance writer. Twit­ter: @rossm­ck­eon

It turns out a lit­tle hard prac­tice was the right recipe for vic­tory. And it didn’t hurt that the Sharks were play­ing a win­less team.

Timo Meier, Chris Tier­ney and To­mas Hertl each scored for the first time this sea­son and goalie Martin Jones made 23 saves as San Jose picked up its first win, 3-2, and dropped the Buf­falo Sabres to 0-3-1.

The Sharks, who lost their first two games be­fore go­ing idle for four nights, were put through their paces in prac­tice Mon­day through Wed­nes­day be­fore hit­ting the ice with a num­ber of lineup changes and a more de­ter­mined at­ti­tude Thurs­day night at SAP Cen­ter.

“I’m for sure happy for two points be­cause it was big for us,” Hertl said. “We played great — all four lines — and Jones was good. We had a lot of chances af­ter a big forecheck. This is how we have to play now.”

De­fense­man Joakim Ryan made his NHL de­but and, with the ad­di­tion of rookie Tim Heed, the San Jose blue line fea­tured a dif­fer­ent look from the first two games. Paul Martin’s an­kle flared dur­ing prac­tice early in the week, and he was placed on in­jured re­serve.

Ryan logged 21:24 of ice time while paired with Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner Brent Burns. Heed, who skated for 13:10, played mostly with Bren­den Dil­lon. Only the shut­down pair of Marc-Edouard Vla­sic and Justin Braun re­mained in­tact.

“The nerves were there early, but as the game went on you get into it,” Ryan said. “You can feel it’s more in­tense, the pace is quicker, guys are on you quicker. It’s def­i­nitely a step up from the pre­sea­son.”

Said Joe Pavel­ski of Ryan and Heed: “They were solid (and) fit right in. They had good train­ing camps. They’ve been around this group a lit­tle bit. We’re ex­cited (for them) to step in and play that role they played tonight.”

With the score 2-2, Meier scored at 14:30 of the sec­ond pe­riod to give the Sharks their third lead of the night. Meier jumped on a loose puck that Sabres de­fense­man Ras­mus Ris­to­lainen turned over in front of goalie Robin Lehner, who had just stopped a screen shot off the stick of San Jose’s Joonas Don­skoi.

“We want to build off that,” Meier said. “We had a good week of prac­tice. I think it’s just about our mind-set and stick­ing to our iden­tity. We have to go out ev­ery night and com­pete hard.”

Buf­falo had tied it 2-2 at 6:50 of the mid­dle pe­riod when Heed got caught and al­lowed the Sabres to break in 2-on-1. Jack Eichel man­aged to thread a pass through Dil­lon, and Ja­son Pom­inville tapped in his sec­ond goal of the night.

San Jose scored the ini­tial goal of the game for the first time this sea­son. With de­fense­man Marco Scan­della off for slash­ing Lo­gan Cou­ture just 36 sec­onds af­ter the open­ing face­off, the San Jose power play went to work.

Kevin La­banc spot­ted Hertl in good po­si­tion at the far post and, from the right point, let go with a shot-pass that Hertl had only to re­di­rect past Lehner at 2:15.

La­banc was in­stru­men­tal on the power play, mov­ing the puck with quick de­ci­sions and keep­ing the Buf­falo penalty killers off bal­ance.

Buf­falo struck at 12:26 to tie the game 1-1, how­ever. Pom­inville scored his first of the game as a trailer af­ter the Sabres broke into the San Jose zone 2-on-2. Dil­lon got caught at cen­ter and found him­self out of po­si­tion to lo­cate Pom­inville, who beat Jones cleanly from the slot.

The Sharks had an an­swer at 15:11 as Don­skoi dished a nolook back pass from be­hind the Buf­falo goal to Tier­ney, who pot­ted his first goal of the sea­son as Lehner got caught an­tic­i­pat­ing the puck com­ing out on the other side.

“I’ve seen him do it a cou­ple times in prac­tice, so I had a feel­ing some­thing tricky was com­ing when he gets that much time with the puck be­hind the net,” Tier­ney said. “I just put my stick down.”

Ezra Shaw / Getty Im­ages

Timo Meier ex­ults af­ter putting the Sharks ahead to stay with his first goal of the sea­son.

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