By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – For the last four months in the aftermath of their playoff performance of last spring, the Ducks had been heavily looking forward to opening night of the 2009-10 campaign.
But what occurred Saturday night at Honda Center was certainly not what they had in mind.
The San Jose Sharks, victimized by the Ducks in a first-round ouster last postseason, got a semblance of revenge in handing Anaheim a 4-1 beating in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 17,281.
That crowd had little to cheer about other than Ryan Whitney’s power play goal halfway through the third period that marked the extent of the damage Anaheim was able to hand out on the night. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who struggled in a 5-2 loss that opened San Jose’s season two nights ago in Colorado was strong in net when he had to be with 24 saves. And the Sharks were just as good on the other end of the ice, getting goals from Benn Ferriero, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi.
"They played a simple, solid game and made us pay for the mistakes we made," said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. "It’s the first game of the season coming in. Everyone has ideas of how they want it to go. The next thing you know, they get a couple of goals and it changes the plan. We probably didn’t respond as well as we could have when that happened. We have to be better."
San Jose got on the board 7:30 after the opening draw as rookie Ferriero scored the first of his young career. Jason Demers bounced a puck on net from the point that kicked off Jonas Hiller
in front, and a passing Ferriero sent it back under Hiller.
The Sharks poured it on with two goals in a 1:37 span near the end of the first period. The first came with 3:14 left with the Ducks on the power play, as a Whitney slap shot from the point was blocked by Marleau. The puck ricocheted past Whitney toward the Anaheim net, where Marleau raced past the Ducks defenseman and converted on the breakaway with a backhand that beat Hiller.
It was the third of the year for Marleau, who had his captaincy taken away in the offseason and had San Jose’s only two goals in that season-opening loss.
San Jose again countered off that same Ducks power play, thanks to blockbuster summer acquisition Dany Heatley, who had just escaped the box following a tripping minor. Heatley ended up with the puck on his blade on the right wing, and he sent a pass in the slot to Thornton, who took the puck and backhanded it home.
It got even worse in a second period in which the Ducks were outshot 17-2 and didn’t put their first shot on net until 18 ½ minutes into it. At 4:32 into the period, Heatley again set up a goal, this time a one-timer from Devin Setoguchi on a Sharks power play.
"This wasn’t the performance that we were looking for," said Ducks center Saku Koivu
in his first game with Anaheim after signing in the summer. "We realize that we didn’t play well. San Jose came out hard and capitalized on a couple of our mistakes in the first period. It’s more about the way we played. We lost too many one-on-one battles in the corners. We just made their night too easy and way too tough for ourselves."
The Ducks had a better effort in the third, outshooting San Jose 14-8 and getting the power play strike at 10:36. Ryan Getzlaf
faked a slap shot from the point and slid it to Whitney, who drilled a one-timer that popped the water bottle.
"I think at the start we maybe weren’t playing as well as we needed to, but I thought it was going all right," Niedermayer said. "They we made some bad plays and gave the puck basically to them to get chances. They made us pay. It got sloppy after that. We didn’t have sustained pressure in their end. In the third, we did a bit better job of that and that is what this team has to do."
Things got ugly 6:27 into the period, as a major brawl broke out behind the Anaheim net after Todd Marchant
was shoved into the wall by Dan Boyle. Everyone on the ice got involved in the rumble that ended with six penalties being handed out, including a game misconduct to Douglas Murray for jumping into the fight.
The Sharks also got the better of Anaheim in last year’s season opener in San Jose, beating the Ducks by that same 4-1 score on their way to the Presidents’ Trophy for best regular season record. But the Ducks got the last laugh in the first round of the playoffs, upsetting San Jose with a six-game series victory.
Tonight didn't go nearly the same way for the Ducks. "We just weren’t good enough in the hockey game," said coach Randy Carlyle. "It’s as simple as that."
It won’t get easier for Anaheim, which faces a four-game road trip starting Tuesday with dates at Minnesota, Boston, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers in a six-day stretch.
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks get off to a rough start to their season, dropping a 4-1 decision to San Jose.
19:32 - Eminger makes a nice pass from just inside the blue line to Lupul, who one-times wide.
18:25 - Getzlaf carries the puck at the tail end of the penalty, and makes a nice feed in front to Perry, who redirects it but Nabokov stacks the pads to make the save.
17:15 - Hiller stretches out to make a stellar stop on a Joe Pavelski one-timer from point blank.
16:14 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. hooking. Sbisa wraps the blade around Ryane Clowe as he's falling down.
15:41 - The Ducks are actually outshooting SJ, 14-7, in this period.
14:25 - Niedermayer throws a couple of shots on net -- denied.
11:12 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. roughing. Bit of a momentum killer for Anaheim.
10:36 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - RYAN WHITNEY - The Ducks finally get one, on the power play, as Getzlaf fakes a slap shot from the point and slides it to Whitney, who rips a lefthanded shot from the point that pops the water bottle. A jarringly loud ovation from the home fans, who have been waiting for something to cheer fro all night.
10:18 - SJS Penalty - Patrick Marleau, 2 min. goaltender interference. Marleau, looking for more, gets a little too aggressive in front of Hiller.
9:51 - Perry slings it on net from a bad angle on the left wing and Nabokov scoops it up.
7:00 - Somehow the Ducks are on a power play after all this.
6:27 - ANA Penalty - Mike Brown, 5 min. fighting and Sheldon Brookbank
, 10 min. misconduct and SJS Penalty - Douglas Murray, game misconduct, Scott Nichol, 5 min. fighting, Jody Shelly, 10 min. misconduct and Dan Boyle, 2 min. cross checking. Things get very ugly behind the San Jose net after the whistle, after Boyle throws Marchant into the wall from behind and Brown jumps in to help as Marchant also defends himself. A full-scale brawl erupts after Murray jumps into the pile and starts raining blows, and Brown comes out of it throwing punches with Nichol. When it eventually subsides, It's a garage sale of hockey equipment all over the ice as the officials sort out the punishment, including an ejection for Murray.
4:25 - Ryan nearly gets a backhand through with Perry screening in front of Nabokov, but no.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, the Ducks with some serious work to do.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Another not-so-good 20 minutes for Anaheim, which gives up a Setoguchi goal to go down 4-0 going into the second intermission.
18:35 - Bobby Ryan
's shot from the deep right wing that Nabokov easily knocks away is the first of the period for Anaheim.
16:26 - SJS Penalty - Dany Heatley, 2 min. interference. Something tells me the Ducks need to get one here. Badly.
14:45 - Marleau has just Whitney to beat for a breakaway, and Whitney just does catch up with him to wrap him up. But Marleau spins and puts a shot on net that Hiller thankfully stops.
14:10 - Ducks have been outshot 16-0 this period. Sbisa did have a wraparound shot that didn't get counted, but that hardly means much.
I can't look at Evgeny Artyukhin out there without thinking he's saying to opponents, "I must break you" or "If he dies ... he dies."
9:39 - ANA Penalty - Joffrey Lupul
, 2 min. roughing. Lupul gets a little aggro after the whistle.
9:20 - Just seven shots for Anaheim, 24 for San Jose.
9:10 - Koivu and Selanne try to get too cute around the net and the puck is turned over.
8:04 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
and SJS Penalty - Manny Malhotra, 2 min. each roughing. A little Ducks frustration comes out in a rumble around the San Jose net after the whistle, which may have stemmed from some animosity between Corey Perry
and Rob Blake on the other end. Getzlaf gets heavily involved, dropping the gloves with Malhotra, who throws a punch before tackling Getzlaf to the sheet.
4:32 - SAN JOSE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - DEVIN SETOGUCHI - Heatley holds the puck in the corner behind the Anaheim net before making a pinpoint feed to Setoguchi in the slot, and Setoguchi one-times it past Hiller stick side. It's 4-0 San Jose.
3:01 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Whitney, 2 min. roughing. Not at all what Anaheim needs right now.
Honda Center Director of PR Merit Tully is now my new best friend. He made sure Sasha Cohen was sitting in my chair in the press box when I got back from the intermission. She turned around, shook my hand and convincingly told me it was good to see me again (we took a picture together a few years ago). When she said, "I was just keeping it warm for you" it was all I could do not to pass out. Unfortunately, this all happened after the second period already started, so I had to kick her out of my seat.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The crowd voices some displeasure as the Ducks go into the locker room trailing 3-0.
19:42 - Lupul gets ahead of the defense on the left wing after a nice leading feed from Selanne, but his shot from in deep goes way wide.
18:23 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JOE THORNTON - Just after jumping out of the box, Heatley ends up with the puck on the right wing and heads up ice on the rush. Thornton gets ahead of Getzlaf up the middle of the ice and takes a pass from Heatley before shifting to the backhand and easily sending it past a lunging Hiller. Wow. It's 3-0 and this place has gone silent.
16:46 - SAN JOSE GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - PATRICK MARLEAU - Another Ducks power play goes awry, as a Ryan Whitney slap shot from the point is blocked by Marleau and the puck ricochets behind Whitney and towards the Anaheim net. Marleau races ahead of Whitney to get on the breakaway, and as Whitney dives from behind to try and poke the puck away, Marleau makes on deke and backhands it past Hiller. Heartbreaker for Anaheim, which trails 2-0 now.
16:13 - SJS Penalty - Dany Heatley, 2 min. tripping. The new Shark checks in.
During the timeout, the wonderful Sasha Cohen (who is here to promote the Improv-Ice show) takes part in the trivia question, in which they ask the gal where the next Winter Olympics are going to be held. She's given the choice of Chicago, Vancouver and Montreal and she guesses Vancouver. She's right! Cohen offers her a hug, which the gal gladly accepts, then hangs onto it about two seconds too long.
15:22 - Not a good power play for Anaheim.
14:15 - Wisniewski, Sbisa, Lupul, Ryan, Koivu.
13:25 - Whitney, Niedermayer, Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne on the first PP unit.
13:22 - SJS Penalty - Jason Demers, 2 min. holding. Chance for the Ducks to get something going after being on their heels.
13:00 - Sharks have spent the last two minutes in the Anaheim end firing at Hiller. Nothing through yet.
First timeout and first appearance of the Power Players in their brand new halter tops. That's definitely not a bad thing.
7:30 - SAN JOSE GOAL - BENN FERRIERO - From just inside the blue line, Jason Demers throw a puck toward the net that bounces in front of Hiller and gives him trouble. The rebound comes out right in front of him, where Ferriero swipes at it and puts it under Hiller. It's 1-0 Sharks on Ferriero's first career goal.
7:10 - Sbisa shows some serious wheels as he speeds down left wing weaving around Sharks, but his shot goes over the net.
6:00 - Redirect from Marleau in the slot goes just wide.
4:46 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant
, 2 min. holding. Very physical and penalties-a-plenty to start.
3:10 - Nabokov has made a couple of huge saves to keep the Ducks out of the net so far.
2:58 - SJS Penalty - Jed Ortmeyer, 2 min. holding. Here's one you don't see everyday. Ortmeyer kind of gets in an awkward position while battling with James Wisniewski
, and takes Wiz down to the ice with a horse-collar move around his neck.
2:47 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. hooking.
1:59 - After the whistle, Mike Brown just misses slamming Jason Demers into the glass, and there is a bit of a scrum that seems like it's going to die down before Brown and Scott Nichol start throwing punches at each other. Brown gets a couple in before falling on top of Nichol. First fight of the year comes early. They both get 5.
1:59 - SJS Penalty - Kent Huskins, 2 min. hooking.
0:00 - And we're underway on opening night. Almost feels too good to be true.
7:10 p.m. - Tremendous rendition of the anthem by the always-passionate Dawn Wright, who got an ovation when she was introduced.
7:05 p.m. - Another very cool intro to opening night, starting with a great musical montage on the video board, followed by the little Ducks kids skating onto the ice with Wild Wing and the introduction of all the Ducks. Loudest ovations go to Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Bobby Ryan.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jonas Hiller
; SJS Evgeni Nabokov
Starting Skaters - ANA Ryan Whitney, James Wisniewski
, Teemu Selanne
, Saku Koivu
, Joffrey Lupul
; SJS Douglas Murray, Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe
Scratches - ANA Nick Boynton, Petteri Nokelainen, Andrew Ebbett; SJS Joe Callahan, Brad Staubitz