ANAHEIM – Mired in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, the Ducks were able to conjure a reminder of past glory against the San Jose Sharks.
Anaheim rode three first-period goals to a 4-2 victory over visiting San Jose, snapping a five-game losing streak that had put the Ducks' hopes of returning to the playoffs in peril.
"We played with a little more energy, something we’ve been missing the last few games," said Scott Niedermayer. "We were a little smarter as well. We know we can play like this. There is not much we can do now about what has happened. We’ll just continue to try to build off what we did tonight."
Anaheim knocked San Jose out of the first round of the postseason last year, but hadn’t beaten their California rivals in five tries this season before finally breaking through in front of 16,317 at Honda Center.
"It’s not something you would be proud of," Niedermayer remarked. "Before this season, we had played that team hard and they played against us hard. This year they have had our number, so it is nice to at least get one off of them."
The home team jumped out to a mildly surprising 3-0 lead after one period on goals by Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne and Lubomir Visnovsky. And they kept San Jose off the scoreboard until the midway point of the third period, thanks in part to the play of goalie Jonas Hiller, one of the heroes of that series last year.
Joe Thornton got San Jose to within two goals with a one-timer from the crease 9:06 into the third, but Bobby Ryan all but put the game away with a slick empty-netter off a Saku Koivu feed from the blue line with 1:13 left.
The Sharks made it 4-2 on a Jamie McGinn deflection just 17 seconds later, but it was too little too late for the Western Conference frontrunners.
Perry was the game’s first scorer 3:27 into the contest on a play in which all three top-liners contributed. On the rush, Getzlaf dropped the puck to Ryan on the wing and he cut to the front of the net, where his shot hit the skate of Evgeni Nabokov. But Perry was there to chip the puck through from the crease.
A little more than four minutes later, Selanne got the 20th of his season and the 599th of his career on a give-and-go with countrymate Saku Koivu that finished with Selanne squeezing the puck between Nabokov and the near post.
Although Selanne came close on a number of occasions to potting the 600th, he ended up leaving the game after sliding awkwardly into the boards during the third period and didn’t return. Getzlaf also limped off the ice in the third and didn’t re-emerge from the locker room.
Visnovsky made it 3-0 with 55 seconds left in the period, as Dan Sexton chased down the puck seconds after delivering a big hit against the glass on Thornton. He got it to Visnovsky, who fired a slap shot from the point that hit Nabokov and trickled behind him.
That gave the Ducks a comfortable lead they never relinquished in getting their first win in six games following the Olympic break. "It’s tough when you have so many guys that didn’t get that two-week break during the Olympics," Perry said. "There were seven of us there. It takes a toll on a lot of guys. We found something tonight and hopefully we can carry it over."
Added Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, "We displayed a lot more emotion in the game. We skated, got involved with the body and were on the puck. If they made that decision consciously, it’s something that has been overdue. If you drag people down and try to continue to bring up the negatives, what good are you doing? It’s about turning the page and trying to refresh."
Teemu Selanne is now two goals shy of tying Jari Kurri for 17th on the NHL’s all-time goals list (601). In addition, his assist tonight gave him sole possession of 57th on the all-time assists list (646). Selanne has 3-6=9 in his last 10 games.
With goal and an assist tonight, Bobby Ryan has 4-5=9 points in his last 10 games. In addition, he has scored 10-10=20 points in his last 16 contests at HOME.
Ryan Getzlaf has earned points in three of the last four games (1-4=5) and in nine of the last 13 (5-12=17).
With a goal tonight, Corey Perry has points in 12 of his last 13 contests at HOME (5-9=14) and has earned 5-8=13 points in the last 13 contests overall.
In has last two appearances (1-1-0 record), Jonas Hiller has stopped 58-of-61 shots for a .951 SV% and 1.51 GAA (3 GA/119 MIN).
3rd Period 20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks snap their losing streak, 4-2.
19:45 - Clowe's backhand try off the rebound goes just wide. That could have been scary.
19:21 - Nabokov out of there again during the faceoff.
19:04 - Timeout San Jose.
19:04 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JAMIE MCGINN - The Sharks pull within two goals with 55.3 left as the puck rolls out to former Duck Huskins, who fires on net and it deflects off the body of McGinn right in front.
18:47 - ANAHEIM GOAL (EMPTY NET) - BOBBY RYAN - Koivu picks up the turned over puck in the Anaheim zone and sends it ahead to Ryan at the other blueline, and he immediately slings it into the empty cage. It's 4-1 Ducks.
18:37 - Nabokov to the bench.
17:26 - Wisniewski picks up a Thornton turnover and fires a blast just wide. Close.
16:48 - Hiller with a monster stop on Pavelski, who snuck in for a one-timer right in front of him. The puck bounced up off Hiller's thigh and he snatched it out of the air with the glove. Huge.
15:55 - Visnovsky's left shin singlehandedly stops a Sharks 2-on-1 as it's hit by a crossing pass by Thornton.
14:50 - Perry has another open net on a rebound, but is harassed enough to come up empty as he swings at it.
14:03 - SJS Penalty - Patrick Marleau, 2 min. interference. Chance for the Ducks to all but put this away.
13:00 - Hiller with a big stop, then Heatley misses wide on an open backhander. Sharks applying the pressure.
11:52 - Hiller with a nice stop on a Pavelski blast.
Some spirited long-distance squawking between Ducks and Sharks fans sitting below us. I specifically heard the words "first round of the playoffs" and "Heimlich" shouted out.
9:06 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JOE THORNTON - The Sharks finally break through as Setoguchi gets it to McGinn behind the net, and he quickly sends it in front to a charging Thornton for the one-timer. It's 3-1 Ducks.
Both Selanne and Getzlaf, we've learned, are being evaluated in the locker room. Selanne is questionable and Getzlaf is doubtful to return. We saw Selanne's, but Getzlaf's may be the ankle it looked like he might have tweaked earlier.
6:21 - SJS Penalty - Joe Pavelski, 2 min. high sticking. The San Jose power play is wiped out in six seconds when Pavelski nicks Wisniewski's face.
6:14 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. tripping. Lubo get called for it during a crowded battle by the wall.
4:10 - Pavelski chips a rebound from a bad angle under Hiller, but it hits the post and comes out.
3:35 - ANA Penalty - Mike Brown, 2 min. high sticking. Brown gets Mitchell in the face.
1:44 - Selanne falls trying to get in position for a one-timer on the rush and goes slamming hard shoulder-first into the wall. He's very slow to get up while tended to by trainer Tim Clark and surrounded by three teammates. He eventually rises to the delight of the crowd and moves slowly to the Anaheim bench, where he sits in the backup goalie's spot while discussing things with the trainer.
1:28 - Selanne with a great lead pass to Sexton to get on an almost-breakaway, but he can't get it past Nabokov.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, the Ducks needing a strong 20 minutes.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Neither team finds the net and it's still 3-0 Anaheim.
19:20 - The Ducks almost looking to get Selanne his 600th, as he plays nearly the entire power play and every Duck on the ice looks to find him when they get the puck.
17:31 - SJS Penalty - Rob Blake, 2 min. interference.
17:30 - Selanne gets close YET AGAIN, sneaking into the slot to one-time a pass by Koivu, but Nabokov is ready for it. Frustration on Selanne's face as he came so close again.
17:14 - Getzlaf gets on the breakaway, chased by Wallin, who eventually catches up. So, he spins around and sends a shot into the leg pads.
11:53 - Selanne nearly gets 600 again, one-timing from the slot, but Nabokov kicks it away. Seconds earlier, he bobbled the puck off his stick blade while looking at a wide open net.
11:23 - SJS Penalty - Torrey Mitchell, 2 min. tripping. Mitchell gets his stick caught up in Perry's legs and takes him down. Somehow he puts his hands in the air when the penalty is called. It's a 5 on 3 for Anaheim.
9:57 - SJS Penalty - Brad Staubitz, 2 min. interference. Mike Brown lays into a couple of Sharks, and when the retaliation comes from Staubitz, he gets the gate.
8:50 - The Ducks give away the puck in their end, but Hiller is in position to thwart Setoguchi.
8:21 - Hiller stops and holds a shot from the circle by a quiet (up until now) Setoguchi.
4:33 - Selanne almost gets 600, as Nabokov just does kick away a shot from the slot.
3:36 - A little bit of a delay as first Perry and then Getzlaf try to get a jumpstart into the circle on the draw. Thornton seems fairly annoyed by it. Hush now.
2:45 - Marchant makes a smart play to bang it off the wall and get Blake on the rush down the wing. He takes a shot from a tough angle that Nabokov struggles with, dropping it next to him in the crease before it's swept away.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - You couldn't ask for much more as the Ducks drop three on the Sharks and lead it 3-0 after one.
19:56 - Hiller holds his ground in front of the net with 3.8 seconds left.
19:05 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Just seconds after delivering that big hit, Sexton chases the puck down in the corner and feeds up top to Visnovsky. He catches and fires a slap shot that hits Nabokov and trickles behind him. Third in the past four games by the likeable Visnovsky and it's 3-0 Anaheim.
18:50 - Dan Sexton puts a hip into Thornton and sends him careening off the glass. There's something you don't see every day.
16:57 - A timely kill for Anaheim.
16:10 - Marleau fires off Hiller's leg pad, then sends the rebound shot wide.
It's trivia time and Bob from Placentia, vying for CHOC t-shirts for his whole row, is asked how many children a year receive care from CHOC. Is it 2,500, 25,000, 250,000 or 2.5 million? He guesses 250,000 and he's ... right! Wow. He also gets some other stuff, like an autographed puck from Selanne. Nice.
14:57 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant, 2 min. tripping. During the delayed whistle, Thornton forces his way to a breakaway with Ward chasing. Ward dives at the puck from behind to mildly disrupt a shot by Thornton that Hiller kicks away.
14:10 - Slap shot from the wing by Perry is kicked away by Nabokov.
We come out of the timeout with "Mama Said Knock You Out." I like it.
No tennis balls in the house tonight. I guess even they've gotten frustrated. Good crowd otherwise, however.
10:29 - ANA Penalties - Bobby Ryan and SJS Penalties - Dan Boyle, 2 min. roughing and 10 min. misconducts each. A little bit of mayhem around the San Jose net after Nabokov smothers a slowly rolling puck and Ryan runs into him a bit. Ryan has to be restrained by an official from getting into it further with Dan Boyle. He's still jawing with Boyle on his way to the box and the official has had enough, giving them both misconducts on top of the roughing minors.
9:01 - SJS Penalty - Dany Heatley, 2 min. roughing. Visnovsky fires yet again on net, gloved by Nabokov. Perry tries to jab at it and Heatley doesn't like it, sending Perry spilling over Nabokov with a glove to the face. He gets the bin.
Power Players come out for the first timeout in orange CHOC t-shirts. But they were polite enough to tie them up at the midriff.
7:40 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Selanne gets the puck in the Anaheim end and races up the right wing. He drops the puck to countrymate Koivu, who gives it right back and Selanne deposits it just between Nabokov and the near post. It's the 20th of the year and 599th of his career for the Flash. And it's 2-0 Anaheim.
4:33 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. interference. Visnovsky bumps Pavelski as the Sharks center chases the puck.
3:27 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - All three top-liners contribute on this one, as Getzlaf lays the puck to Ryan on the left wing on the rush. Ryan cuts right in front of Nabokov, who gets a skate on the shot attempt, but leaves it in the crease, where Perry is there to chip it through. Ducks lead it early.
3:20 - Bad bounce off the seam in the glass comes to Thornton, who misses wide from the slot.
Battling "Let's go, Ducks!" and "Let's go, Sharks!" chants spring up. Lots of teal in this building tonight. I don't like it.
Very cool seeing every dasher board in the rink dedicated to CHOC. Believed to be the first time in league history a team has done such a thing.
0:35 - Perry gets the Ducks activated early, gliding into the slot and firing a wrister off the far post.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:08 p.m. It's CHOC Night here at Honda Center, so kids representing the hospital come out and join the Ducks starters for the anthem. It's sung by CHOC's Mia Maffei, who hits a serious high note on "...land of the freeeeee..." Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.