By Adam Brady (email@example.com)
SAN JOSE – After waiting five long offseason months to launch the 2008-09 campaign, the Ducks were plagued in their season opener by the same problems they endured much of last year – too many penalties and too little scoring.
Both were evident Thursday night as the Ducks went to the box five times in a pivotal second period, giving way to two San Jose goals on the way to a 4-1 defeat to the Sharks in front of a raucous sellout crowd at HP Pavilion. Meanwhile, the Ducks got little going offensively all night, only managing a too-little-too-late Rob Niedermayer goal with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third.
“It takes three periods to play the hockey game and we weren’t very good after the first period," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. For whatever reason we started turning the puck over… something like ten times in the first five minutes of the second period.”
One-time Ducks killer Cheechoo had both goals in the critical second period to put San Jose on top for good in the first game of the year for both teams.
“I felt the way we started the game was great,” said Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. “We had a good first period. When they stepped it up a notch, it almost surprised us. We should have known better, being a veteran team. That’s not something that should have surprised us.”
Following a scoreless first, the Ducks came apart in the second, committing five minors to give San Jose numerous chances on the man advantage. And Anaheim was bitten twice by Cheechoo, who dented the net twice in a span of 4:12.
Cheechoo struck first 2:32 into the middle session, benefitting from a rare Scott Niedermayer turnover in the San Jose zone. Giguere came out high to save a shot from the slot by Dan Boyle, and Cheechoo scooped up the rebound before moving behind Giguere to fire it through.
Cheechoo made the Ducks pay again when Anaheim was on its heels defending a two-man advantage resulting from penalties on Niedermayer (high sticking) and Teemu Selanne (holding). On the ensuing power play, Joe Thornton passed from the goal line extended back to Cheechoo in the right circle, and the winger whipped it high past Giguere on the far side of the net. He pumped his fist hard through the air, as the capacity crowd of 17,496 roared with elation.
After getting off 10 mostly harmless shots in the first period, the Ducks only managed three in the second, while San Jose peppered Giguere with 21.
“It seems like they got another gear going and we stood around and watched and started to play the game from our own back end," Carlyle said. "Then they started coming at us in waves and we started taking penalties.”
San Jose kept pouring it on in the third, taking advantage of another Ducks power play when Steve Montador headed for the box on a holding minor. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff drilled a slap shot from the point that sailed through traffic and hit just inside the right post to give San Jose a 3-0 lead.
Anaheim fought back with a Rob Niedermayer goal with 5:25 left in the game, as Steve Montador fired a slap shot from the point and Niedermayer tipped it through on its way to the net.
To quell any Anaheim momentum off that goal, San Jose added insurance when Patrick Marleau fed Devon Setoguchi on a rush, and Setoguchi gathered the puck and flipped it backhand past Giguere for a 4-1 cushion.
The Sharks shut down the Ducks attack most of the night, and netminder Evgeni Nabokov saved 28 of 29 shots. Meanwhile, the Ducks defense allowed 41 attempts on net, 17 of them on the penalty kill.
The Ducks play again Sunday in their home opener against another Pacific Division rival, the Phoenix Coyotes.
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Sharks pour it on in the second and third en route to a 4-1 victory in front of an elated home crowd.
19:00 - A minute left and it doesn't look like it's going to happen for Anaheim.
15:57 - SAN JOSE GOAL - DEVON SETOGUCHI - Patrick Marleau steals the puck and heads on a rush with Setoguchi, whom he feeds in the slot. Setoguchi has trouble handing it at first, but then gathers the puck with his back to the net and backhands it past a lunging Giguere. It's 4-1 San Jose.
14:35 - ANAHEIM GOAL - ROB NIEDERMAYER - Steve Montador gathers the puck near the blue line and fires a slap shot that Niedermayer tips on its way to the net through Nabokov. It might be too little too late for the Ducks though, as it's 3-1 with just over 5 minutes left.
Another "Ducks suck" chant from the crowd. Talk about kicking a man when he's down.
12:12 - Marleau jumps on the puck right in front of Giguere, but can't get enough on the puck to put a good shot on him before Giguere buries it.
10:02 - Just as Getzlaf escapes the box, Huskins tries a shot from the high slot that Nabokov comes out high to glove snag.
7:57 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. slashing.
5:48 - The Ducks pepper Nabokov with four slap shots (three from Ken Klee and two from Brendan Morrison) in a matter of seconds, but Nabby saves them all.
2:52 - SAN JOSE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF - With the Ducks on their heels yet again, Ehrhoff drills a shot from the point that sizzles through several players and hits just inside the right post. It's 3-0 San Jose.
2:14 - ANA Penalty - Steve Montador, 2 min. holding. Ducks can't stay out of the box.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Ducks needing two to tie it.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - An awful period for Anaheim, as they commit five penalties and pay for it. Cheechoo scores two in a span of 4:12 to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead through two.
17:50 - ANA Penalty - Kent Huskins, 2 min. tripping. Huskins grabs onto Torrey Mitchell along the wall in the San Jose zone and takes him down.
14:56 - ANA Penalty - Steve Montador, 2 min. hooking. Another power play for the men of teal.
14:40 - Setoguchi breaks out on the breakaway, but Giguere makes a nice save on his backhand try. Huge save by Giguere, because if that one goes, it's a tough road to climb for Anaheim.
A chant of "Ducks suck!" rises from the corner of the arena. It's one of the tough things about having a team name with unfortunate rhyming partners.
Someone in the crowd below us yells, "Pronger, you still suck!" I'm sure that hurt.
10:39 - SJ Penalty - Christian Ehrhoff, 2 min. hooking. Chance for the Ducks to cut into it.
9:50 - Shots on goal 21-10 in favor of the Sharks. That's 11-2 in this period alone.
7:53 - ANA Penalty - George Parros
, 2 min. tripping. The Ducks are getting them in bunches and this crowd is going bananas.
6:44 - SAN JOSE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - JONATHAN CHEECHOO - With the Sharks on a two-man advantage, Cheechoo does it again. Joe Thornton passes it from the bottom of the right circle to Cheechoo in the circle, and Cheechoo whips it past Giguere on the far side. Not bad for a guy who took a hard shot to the chest of Rob Blake's stick just seconds before. Looks like Cheechoo might be back after an off year last year and it's 2-0 Sharks.
6:19 - ANA Penalty - Scott Niedermayer, 2 min. high sticking. Niedermayer gets Pavelski in the face as he's trying to clear the puck from behind the net. The Sharks nearly find the net on the delayed whistle. 5 on 3 for San Jose.
4:40 - ANA Penalty - Teemu Selanne
, 2 min. hooking. Selanne latches on to Clowe as they cross the red. First penalty of the year on Anaheim.
4:05 - Huskins takes a shot in the corner from Jody Shelley and this crowd is into it.
2:32 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JONATHAN CHEECHOO - After Scott Niedermayer turns the puck over in the San Jose zone, Dan Boyle takes a shot from the high slot that Giguere has to come way out to save. The rebound pops out to Cheechoo who maneuvers it behind Giguere and in the net. Cheechoo, the former Duck killer who had three hat tricks against Anaheim in the 2005-06 season, does it again.
0:50 - Devon Setoguchi makes some nice moves to the net and puts a shot up that's blocked by Giguere. But he looked good. Skated almost as well as Kristi YAMAguchi.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Eight shots for San Jose, 10 for Anaheim, no goals. We've played the first of 246 regular season regulation periods and there is no score.
19:43 - Perry nabs the puck from a teal guy in the corner, then heads to the net, but can't get it through. Getzlaf tries to poke at the rebound before Nabokov freezes it, leading to some friction between him and Milan Michalek.
19:11 - Giguere makes an awkard pad save on a Douglas Murray point shot, then quickly gathers in the rebound.
18:11 - On the rush, Getzlaf makes the first of 3,143 great passes this season, to Beauchemin in the slot, who slings it on net but it's stopped.
17:15 - Moen, Morrison and Perry on the second unit of PP forwards.
16:58 - Niedermayer puts a patented seeing-eye one-timer on net, but Borat, I mean Nabokov, is there.
16:18 - SJ Penalty - Lukas Kaspar, 2 min. high sticking. Kaspar nicks Sutherby. First penalty of the game and first chance to see the Ducks PP. It's Pronger and Niedermayer with Selanne, Getzlaf and Kunitz.
16:10 - Huskins is paired with Klee on defense, so Beauchemin with Niedermayer and Montador with Pronger.
15:15 - The guy who used to be Jonathan Cheechoo drives hard to the net, but can't get a good shot off.
Here's some video of that in-arena opening, if you're interested.
11:24 - At the first timeout, the Sharks have burly dudes in teal sweatsuits cleaning the ice. Ducks 1, Sharks 0 on that one.
5:10 - Pronger booed as he touches the puck. It never ends.
3:10 - Pronger takes the first shot of the Ducks season but it's knocked away.
2:38 - Tomas Plihal takes the first shot of the Sharks' season and it's swallowed by Giguere.
2:04 - Kunitz, Morrison and Flash.
1:00 - Moen with Getzy and Perry.
0:10 - Marchant skates on the checking line in place of Moen, who will likely be with the kids.
0:00 - I can't believe I'm saying this but we ... are ... under ... way ... on the 2008-09 Ducks season.
7:43 p.m. - Nice rendition of the anthem by a tuxedo-clad guy named Bill Welch.
7:40 p.m. - Our first indication that this may be the loudest building in the league. The crowd erupts for the introduction of the Sharks starters, getting even louder when Nabokov is announced.
7:36 p.m. - Got to hand it to the Sharks. Very cool opening entertainmant package, complete with images projected on the ice of player highlights and even real Sharks in the water, almost making it look like they were swimming in the ice. I'm pumped up, and I'm rooting for the visiting
team. I'll have video of that in a little bit.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jean-Sebastien Giguere; SJ Evgeni Nabokov
Starting Skaters - ANA Todd Marchant
, Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin, Scott Niedermayer; SJ Dan Boyle, Mike Grier, Jeremy Roenick, Ryane Clowe, Brad Lukowich
Scratches - ANA Ryan Carter
, Nathan McIver; SJ Marcel Goc, Alexei Semenov