ANAHEIM – In a season where bright spots have been too few and far between, a fourth straight win over the rival Sharks would have been a welcomed silver lining for the Anaheim Ducks.
But an early lead quickly turned into a deficit late in the second period, and San Jose added insurance in the third on its way to a 3-1 over Anaheim at Honda Center. On two occasions, barely averted Ducks goals were quickly countered by San Jose strikes, as Anaheim fell to its Northern California nemesis for the first time in four games this season.
Corey Perry’s 15th of the year was the only bright spot for the Ducks, who lost for the seventh time in the last eight games, the only win in that span coming December 26 at San Jose.
The Ducks took the lead first, just 2:37 into the game on Perry’s first goal since December 17. Fresh out of the penalty box, Andrew Cogliano held the puck in at the blue line and tossed it toward the net, where Perry deked goalie Antti Niemi with a move to the backhand before sending it through.
The Ducks couldn’t add to the lead after a high sticking double minor by Brad Winchester led to a four-minute power play that ran from the end of the first to the beginning of the second. The tables were dramatically turned on them late in the second, after Bobby Ryan was robbed by Niemi following a pretty spin move and a hard cut in front of the net.
Just a half-minute later, the Sharks countered on the rush, as Winchester whipped a shot from the left wing that flew under Jonas Hiller’s stick and went in off the inside of the far post.
Only 27 seconds after that, the Sharks nabbed the lead for good, as Benn Ferriero dove to a bouncing puck in front of the net and punched it home.
"Shifts after goals are crucial for us," Perry said. "You know that they just got the momentum back and the next shift is the biggest shift. It’s the way hockey is. It’s always been like that since you’ve been a kid. We just haven’t been sharp after a goal. I have no answers for it."
The Ducks had another near goal denied and quickly turned into a San Jose score just after the eight-minute mark in the third period. Nick Bonino’s shot from the left wing beat Niemi, but loudly rang the far post. Seconds later the Sharks were on the rush, where Joe Thornton cranked a slap shot that hit off Hiller and trickled above the crease, where a charging Joe Pavelski chipped it in.
"We had (16) shots in the third period and two posts," Perry said. "We had our chances. Then, they get the third one and that one hurts. Those are the ones we want to have back. We want to bury our chances as well."
The Ducks failed to fight back the rest of the way, coming up empty in the final half-minute when a pulled Hiller and a San Jose penalty led to a 6-on-4 advantage.
"You look at the standings and they continue to separate us from even the team ahead of us," Ryan said. "The hole just continues to get bigger. You have to gradually push at it. You can’t cut your losses and just play to play. We have to play for a little bit of respect at this stage."
Anaheim winger Jason Blake played for the first time in 35 games, since suffering a cut above the left wrist against these same Sharks in a 1-0 win on October 14. Blake played 16:15 and was plus-one tonight.
"I told them at the end of the game, ‘I know it’s no consolation and I know it’s not going to make you feel any better, but that is as hard you have worked since maybe the Phoenix game or the San Jose game up there,'" said an uncharacteristically quiet Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "That is something that has to be commonplace. If you want to be a successful team, you have to do that every day and have that will to do that every day."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks don't score on the 6-on-4 and this one's over. Sharks win it 3-1.
19:36 - SJS Penalty - Logan Couture, 2 min. tripping. Couture takes down Koivu and the Ducks take timeout with 23.1 left.
19:15 - Ducks empty the net.
17:30 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. boarding. Ryan with a shoulder into Demers, driving him into the wall. Tough one.
16:30 - Ducks with a couple of tries around the Sharks net, trying to get back in this game.
12:43 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JOE PAVELSKI - Seconds after Bonino's near-miss, Thornton fires a slap shot on the left wing that trickles of Hiller just above the crease, where Pavelski chips it in to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead.
12:00 - Bonino fires from the left wing through Niemi, but it clangs the post. Looks like it might have hit some net.
11:29 - Ducks have a few chances, but can't convert on that PP.
9:55 - Visnovsky hammers a one-timer that gets behind Niemi, but Boyle plays hero by slapping it away at the last instant.
9:29 - SJS Penalty - Douglas Murray, 2 min. interference. Murray knocks down Hagman away from the puck. During the delayed whistle, the Ducks skating 6 on 5, Perry rings the post with a shot.
8:02 - Perry screens in front on a Fowler shot, but Niemi holds it. First whistle since the 17:41 mark.
6:15 - Loooooonnnng time without a whistle, as the teams fire at each end.
2:10 - Ducks firing on net early in this period. Bonino with the latest, into Niemi's glove.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Bad period for the Ducks, who give up two in a span of 28 seconds to go down 2-1.
19:59 - Koivu with a last-ditch slap shot.
17:52 - ANA Penalty - Saku Koivu, 2 min. high sticking. Koivu gets Marleau near the Anaheim blue line. Ugh.
16:50 - SAN JOSE GOAL - BENN FERRIERO - The Sharks strike again quickly, as Couture picks up a loose puck off a Boyle blocked shot and fires it on net. It's deflected into the air by Fowler, but Ferriero dives on the bouncing puck to punch it past Hiller. It's 2-1 Sharks like that.
16:23 - SAN JOSE GOAL - BRAD WINCHESTER - The Sharks go the other way with it, with Winchester firing a shot from the left wing past Fowler, under Hiller's stick, off the inside of the far post and in. It's 1-1.
15:57 - Ryan with a nearly Ryanesque highlight goal, turning nothing into something by making a spin move around Burns and cutting in front of Niemi, who avoided SportsCenter with a big kick save.
15:08 - Hiller with a big save on a Clowe shot on the rush, stopping it with the left arm then smothering it behind himself. Might have been a little luck involved on that one.
12:45 - Ryan fires from the high left wing, just wide.
11:05 - Nice stretch pass gets Beleskey on a 2-on-1, but he fires wide of the net.
9:39 - Hiller takes in a Boyle one-timer. He's a perfect 16 for 16 tonight.
8:55 - A Koivu steal gets the Ducks on a rush, but his pass to Blake is tipped away by a diving Burns. Burns hit Blake earlier and he also stepped on Blake's arm 35 games ago. Hasn't he done enough?
6:04 - Selanne tries to cause a commotion in front of Niemi on a Fowler shot, but he hangs on.
5:45 - Blake fights hard to keep the puck alive behind the net. That's what we've missed the last three months.
0:34 - No shots on that whole four-minute power play.
0:00 - Ducks on the PP as we start the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get one from Perry and have 34 seconds of PP time when we come back. It's 1-0 Ducks, despite being outshot 12-3.
19:40 - Ducks don't look strong on this power play.
17:00 - Perry just barely has a backhand deflected away. Had an open net off a Selanne feed. Perry is everywhere in this first period.
16:34 - SJS Penalty - Brad Winchester, 4 min. high sticking. Winchester gets Visnovsky and draws some blood. First PP for the Ducks.
14:35 - Desjardins picks up a loose puck and gets on a breakaway, but Hiller forces him into a bad angle shot that hits the outside of the net.
13:47 - Ducks kill, which reminds me, I miss the promotion we had where you get a free taco for a Ducks second period penalty kill.
11:47 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. interference. Lydman with a late hit on Couture in front of the Ducks bench. Screaming Guy in front of us yells, "It was worth it!"
I didn't mention this earlier, but a youth team from Aliso Viejo stood with the Ducks during the anthem earlier. All the kids were introduced, and last to be announced was Aleksandro Salei, son of the late Ruslan. That drew a nice cheer from the crowd.
5:49 - Hiller bails out a Cogliano giveaway by stoning Pavelski on the doorstep.
2:37 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Fresh out of the box, Cogliano chases the puck down and holds it inside the blue line, quickly flipping toward the net to Perry, who completely befuddles Niemi with a deke move to the backhand before flipping it off the twine. It's 1-0 Ducks early, on Perry's first since December 17.
2:22 - Good early kill for Anaheim.
0:22 - ANA Penalty - Andrew Cogliano, 2 min. holding. Cogliano pulls down Pavelski on the rush, causing him to go spilling into Hiller.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Nice work on the anthem by Emily Van Gorder, who resembles a young Tina Fey. Starters in bold/italics.