By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – Finally.
The Anaheim Ducks' elusive first victory came in the unlikeliest of circumstances, with Anaheim (0-4 entering the game) taking on previously undefeated San Jose (4-0). But when it was all over at Honda Center, the Sharks’ perfect record was smashed to bits and the Ducks’ season took on new life in a convincing 4-0 triumph.
|Travis Moen had a big second period goal for Anaheim, while Rob Niedermayer (foreground) added two assists.
Anaheim leaned heavily on the three things that have been a hallmark of its winning tradition the last three seasons – defense, goaltending and the vaunted checking line. All played a major role in the Ducks rolling to a surprising rout of the Sharks.
Defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Chris Pronger had goals, as did checking line mainstays Travis Moen and Samuel Pahlsson, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all 38 shots to earn his 30th career shutout.
“It feels really good,” said Giguere, who had gotten off to a rough start with 13 goals against in three games entering this one. “It was a good night for us. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but this is a good start.”
Holding on to a 2-0 lead going into the third, the Ducks got some much-needed insurance just 1:50 into the stanza. With the Ducks skating 5 on 4, Pronger unleashed a slap shot from the point that travelled through a Ryan Carter screen and raced past Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov. It was the first power play goal of the season for the Ducks, as they were the only team in the league not to have one until then.
Anaheim all but put the game to bed midway through the third after killing a Pahlsson holding penalty and then taking advantage when he sprang from the box. Rob Niedermayer intercepted a pass in the Anaheim zone and sent it ahead to a streaking Pahlsson just in front of the red line. Pahlsson put two moves on Nabokov before depositing the puck just inside the left post. It was the second assist of the evening for Niedermayer.
"It was a big win for us," Pronger said. "It was desperate times, especially with the way we had played the first three games. Tonight, Jiggy held the fort when we ran into penalty trouble there early in the first."
|Giguere had 38 stops to earn his 30th career shutout.
The two teams skated scoreless for the first 18 minutes of the contest until Francois Beauchemin broke the ice with a slap shot goal with 1:47 left in the period. Beauchemin’s rocket from the right point tipped off the tape of San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle and popped over Nabokov’s glove. Kent Huskins and Ryan Getzlaf got assists on the goal, the first point of the season for Getzlaf, who had 84 a season ago.
"Right off that goal, we got a lot of life, " Pronger said. "We really started to bear down and cinch things up defensively."
Less than four minutes into the second, the Ducks took an all-important two-goal lead when Travis Moen scored from point blank. Scott Niedermayer threw the puck into a crowd in front of the net before brother Rob kicked it toward Moen and the gritty winger wristed it off Nabokov’s shoulder and in.
Despite the two Anaheim goals, San Jose was mostly controlling the game over the first two periods. They spent a good amount of time around the Anaheim net and outshot the Ducks 32-14, but Giguere turned them all aside.
"I’ve been working pretty hard in practice," Giguere said. "Eventually, these things are going to turn around. I believe that you create your own luck and that the bounces are eventually going to go your way. Tonight, the bounces went my way."
The Ducks gave San Jose little chance to come back in the third period, allowing just six shots and blocking several attempts before they got near Giguere. The sellout crowd of 17,174 was on its feet as the clock wound down to triple-zero to clinch that gratifying first victory.
The Ducks will look to do it again when they take on Carolina at Honda Center on Sunday evening.
"We got our first win and we’re happy with it," Giguere said. "The last game (a 3-2 loss to Edmonton) was a starting point. Now we just have to keep going forward and try to put some good games together."
With a goal tonight (first of the season), Travis Moen has established a career-high three-game point streak (1-2=3).
Rob Niedermayer has recorded points in three of the four games he has appeared in this season (2-2=4), including two assists tonight. It marks his fastest scoring start to a season since 2005-06 when he earned 1-3=4 points through four games. He also leads the team in scoring.
J.S. Giguere's last shutout came on Feb. 5, 2008 at the NY Islanders.
Both Scott Niedermayer (0-2=2) and Kent Huskins (1-1=2) have recorded points in consecutive games.
Ryan Carter has earned points in three of the four contests he has appeared in (1-2=3).
20:00 - END OF GAME - The clock hits triple-zero, lighting of the crowd, and clinching the first victory of the season for the Ducks, 4-0.
19:00 - The P.A. guy announces one minute remaining and the crowd loves it.
14:29 - SJ Penalty - Marc-Edouard Vlasic, 2 min. delay of game. Do you know that the Sharks call Vlasic "Pickles"? Seriously.
9:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAMUEL PAHLSSON - Rob Niedermayer intercepts the puck in the San Jose zone and quickly sends it over the red line ahead to Pahlsson, who just jumped out of the box. He's on a breakaway with only Nabokov to beat, and he fakes right, goes left and flips it just inside the post. It's 4-0 Anaheim and this crowd is loving it. Highest goal total of the year for the Ducks.
This crowd has filled in nicely and we just announced an official sellout. Guess I was way off earlier. Not the first time. Definitely not the last.
7:16 - ANA Penalty - Samuel Pahlsson, 2 min. holding.
5:57 - Giguere turns the puck over to Pavelski, and after Pavelski comes back with a wrist shot, Giguere holds it in his stomach and then slams his stick to the ice in frustration. You don't often see that after a save.
3:57 - SJ Penalty - Rob Blake, 2 min. cross checking. Selanne just misses poking a loose puck through as it spins underneath Nabokov's leg pad. Blake, to try and get him away, cross-checks Selanne in the back. His 2:00 won't start until Clowe comes out of the box.
3:27 - SJ Penalty - Jonathan Cheechoo, 2 min. tripping. Cheechoo takes down Scott Niedermayer with the stick. Not the greatest call in the world, but we'll take it.
3:16 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Carter
, 2 min. holding. Ducks go 4 on 4.
2:34 - SJ Penalty - Ryan Clowe, 2 min. holding. It took almost five games for the Ducks to get their first power play goal. See if they can get their second.
1:50 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - CHRIS PRONGER - Seconds into the Anaheim power play, Pronger rips a slap shot from just above the FACE-OFF 2008 logo at the point and it sizzles by a Ryan Carter screen and past Nabokov. Pronger throws an uppercut to the sky after it connects. First power play goal of the year for the Ducks and it's 3-0. Assists go to Brendan Morrison and Carter, who gets the unofficial assist on that screen job.
1:32 - SJ Penalty - Rob Blake, 2 min. interference. Blake knocks Perry down as Perry looks to chase the puck behind the San Jose net.
No tennis balls for the second straight game. That flu must be a rough one.
0:00 - We're off and running in the third, Anaheim clinging to a 2-0 lead.
"Umbrella" by Rihanna on the organ during the intermission. Sounded interesting.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Moen's goal, and hard-working play otherwise, pace the Ducks to a 2-0 lead after two. San Jose still is controlling things by spending a ton of time in the Anaheim zone and outshooting the Ducks 32-14. But it's the first time the Ducks have gone into the third with a lead this year.
18:14 - Nabokov stops a long shot from Scott Niedermayer and covers it flat on his back and Morrison and Selanne stand in front of him ready to pounce.
17:05 - Huskins gets pasted by Marleau and Blake simultaneously. I wouldn't be surprised if Huskins can't remember his phone number right now.
16:20 - A deep shot on net deflects to the point where Giguere has to kick out his skate to save it and the momentum turns him completely around. The Ducks dodge a bullet on the 30th San Jose shot of the game.
During the timeout, a dude in an orange jersey catches himself on the video board and gets up and dances to the techno tune. His girl stays seated and pretends to laugh. Good luck with the single life, dude.
12:57 - Ducks are being outshot 28-11, but they lead in the category with the big numbers.
7:13 - ANA Penalty - Scott Niedermayer, 2 min. hooking. Scotty gets nabbed while trying to defend a strong Sharks chance in front of the net.
5:40 - Selanne looks like he's loose behind the defense, but Rob Blake catches up to annoy him enough that he gets off only soft shot. Man, there are former Kings all over this league, aren't there?
3:54 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TRAVIS MOEN - Scott Niedermayer slings the puck on net and it gets caught up in a crowd of white and black shirts. Rob Niedermayer manages to kick it toward Moen in the slot, and he shoots a quick wrister that hits off Nabokov's shoulder and flips in. First of the year for Moen and it's 2-0.
The video board reveals that Bobby Ryan leads the Iowa Chops in points with 2-2=4. The crowd doesn't know how to feel about that.
The Sharks have outscored opponents 8-2 in second periods this year, while the Ducks have been outscored 7-2 in second periods. I'm kind of hoping that trend doesn't live on.
1:45 - Marchant looks like he might have Pahlsson on a breakaway as the Ducks break out from the penalty kill, but he whiffs on the pass attempt.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, the Ducks starting down a man from May's roughing penalty.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not the best first period for the Ducks, but they still lead 1-0. They're outshot 14-8 in the period and take four minors, not to mention three fighting majors.
19:45 - ANA Penalty - Brad May, 2 min. roughing. Pronger gets taken down behind the Anaheim net by Setoguchi and Shelley and he's not too happy. He and Shelley have words and a couple of shoves as the puck heads down the other way. May jumps in to take on Shelley, who's not interested in a fight, and gets the time.
18:13 - ANAHEIM GOAL - FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN - Beauchemin drills a slap shot from the right point that skids along the ice before nicking the stick of defenseman Dan Boyle and popping over Nabokov's glove for the goal. Huskins gets the assist and second assist goes to Ryan Getzlaf. Believe it or not, it's his first point of the season. 1-0 Ducks.
17:45 - The Ducks throw it out of the zone just as the Niedermayer penalty runs out. Huge kill for Anaheim.
15:45 - ANA Penalty - Rob Niedermayer, 2 min. hooking. Wow.
15:27 - ANA Penalty - Francois Beauchemin, 2 min. hooking. Beauchemin hooks Erhoff behind the net. Another penalty parade for Anaheim?
14:30 - Giguere has to sprawl out to make a save on Grier as Grier was trying to box him out before the puck got there. Grier looks to be a little hurt on the play.
14:25 - SJ Penalty - Joe Thornton, 2 min. cross checking. Thornton tangles with Montador away from the puck after cross checking Montador. It's advantage Thornton as he manages to get Montador's hat off and won't give Montador a chance to get his hands free. Thornton gets in a shot at the end before it's over. The good thing for the Ducks: It gets big Joe off the ice for the two minutes and another five for fighting. Montador gets five too.
13:05 - ANA Penalty - Francois Beauchemin, 2 min. hooking. Another chance for the Sharks.
10:50 - Giguere gets the puck taken away from him behind the goal, leaving it wide open in front. The San Jose player sends it in front, but luckily for the Ducks there is no white jersey there.
10:00 - After George Parros
and Brad May simultaneously paste Dan Boyle, Sharks enforcer Jody Shelley (toughest guy in the world named Jody) gets into it with George Parros
. It's a clash of the titans, though not as good as advertised. Parros does manage to pull Shelley's jersey almost over his head and gets an uppercut in there. But Shelley pushes on Parros enough to knock him off balance and it's over.
6:53 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. holding. Uh oh.
5:51 - Nathan McIver makes his presence felt in Anaheim by getting in a scrap with Brad Staubitz right in front of the Ducks bench after Staubitz put a late hit on him. They both get in a couple of good shots (mostly swings and misses) before McIver drags Staubitz to the ice.
4:07 - The Sharks kill it, but not without some decent chances for Anaheim.
3:10 - Nabokov drills Selanne near the net and there's no call. The crowd seems to think there should have been one.
2:07 - SJ Penalty - Alexei Semenov, 2 min. hooking. Chance for the Ducks to get their ... I can barely say it ... first power play goal of the year.
Not the greatest crowd in the world in the early going. Looks like we're not starting a new sellout streak tonight.
0:30 - San Jose rips off three shots on their first shift, and Giguere makes a good save on one of the them.
0:00 - We're underway at Honda Center.
7:08 p.m. - In her first Honda Center appearance of the year, Dawn Wright gives another powerful rendition of the anthem. Nice work.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jean-Sebastien Giguere; SJ Evgeni Nabokov
Starting Skaters - ANA Francois Beauchemin, Scott Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen, Rob Niedermayer; SJ Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich
Scratches - ANA Ken Klee, Brian Sutherby; SJ Douglas Murray, Milan Michalek, Tomas Plihal