ANAHEIM – The Anaheim Ducks have endured something they haven’t experienced so far this season – a slump.
For the second straight night, Anaheim’s late comeback attempt against a bitter rival was denied, this time by the San Jose Sharks, who held on for a 5-3 victory at Honda Center. It was the third straight loss for Anaheim, all of which came at home, where they previously had won 13 in a row.
Anaheim (22-6-4) pulled within a goal with 1:40 left when a Corey Perry shot bounced off goalie Antti Niemi and Perry forced the rebound under him in a traffic-jammed crease.
The Ducks sent goalie Viktor Fasth to the bench for an extra attacker in an attempt to tie it late, but with 27.7 seconds left, the Sharks won the faceoff and Dan Boyle shuttled the puck into the empty net from behind his own blue line. That dashed any hopes the Ducks had of clawing all the way back from an early 3-0 deficit.
"We obviously didn’t play our game for the first period and a half," Perry said. "We didn’t start well and it eventually caught up to us. We’re not using any excuses. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of hockey games in a short amount of days, but everybody has that, no matter who it is. We’ve got to be ready to play a full 60 minutes."
Anaheim had originally made it a one-goal game less than a minute into the third period when Ryan Getzlaf backhanded a pass to a wide-open Francois Beauchemin in the slot, and Beauchemin slung a wrist shot under the cross bar.
San Jose appeared to regain a two-goal cushion on the power play at 7:56 when Logan Couture tipped a Joe Pavelski puck under Fasth. But officials ruled on the ice that Couture touched the puck with a high stick and replays were ruled too inconclusive to reverse the call.
The Sharks ultimately did go in front by two when James Sheppard was on the receiving end of a Ducks giveaway and took a quick shot from the top of the left wing circle that somehow snuck past Fasth. That made it 4-2 with a little less than 10 minutes left in the game, and while the Ducks ultimately made it a game again after Perry’s goal, that was as close as they got.
The Ducks found themselves down a pair of goals relatively quickly in the first period, as defenseman-turned-forward Brent Burns and Pavelski tallied within a minute and a half of each other. Burns struck 5:46 into the period, after Joe Thornton tipped the puck over to Martin Havlat, who fed a charging Burns for the snap shot. At 7:10, Perry whiffed trying to clear the puck out of the right wing circle, and Pavelski picked up the gift and sent it past Fasth.
San Jose made it 3-0 not long after the puck dropped to start the second period, as Fasth splayed out to kick away a Matt Irwin point shot, but nobody covered the rebound and Martin Havlat punched it through.
The Ducks finally broke through 8:16 into the session on Emerson Etem’s second career goal, albeit an unorthodox one. Etem chased down a puck down the left wing and tried to center it to Peter Holland, but it deflected off the leg of defenseman Brad Stuart into the Sharks net. It was a break that went the Ducks' way on a night when there weren't a lot of them.
"We didn’t play very well," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. "We haven’t handled it very well. We knew that they were sitting here waiting and that they were going to come out in the first period. We knew all these things and we didn’t come out and meet their push. For some reason lately, they’re not ready at the start of the game, and we have to figure out why."
After starting their five-game, eight-day homestand with promising wins over these Sharks and the NHL-best Blackhawks, the Ducks dropped the last three and now face a rematch with San Jose on Wednesday up north at HP Pavilion.
"We’ve got to just get a little bit of a sense of urgency back in our game," said Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray. "We’re starting these games possibly thinking it’s going to be an easy night. We’ve got to understand that we’ve played well all year to put ourselves in the position that other teams are going to be ready for us.
"We should have a little bit of swagger, for sure, and we deserve to be where we are because we’ve played really well. But we’ve gotten away from that a little bit."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Sharks hold off Ducks comeback, 5-3.
19:32 - SAN JOSE GOAL (EMPTY NET) - DAN BOYLE - Sharks win the draw, and almost immediately Boyle sends it bounding into the empty net from his own blue line. Wind taken out of the sails of this standing home crowd.
"Final Countdown" playing on the PA coming out of the timeout. Good choice.
19:15 - Sharks ice it with 44.2 left and Ducks take their timeout. This should be fun.
18:55 - Selanne almost ties it with a one-timer in the crease, but it's just wide. Fasth on the bench.
18:20 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Ducks get an ugly one they'll take, as the puck settled down in the crease in front of Niemi and Perry forces it under him. Sharks don't love it, but it's a good goal and it's 4-3.
18:00 - Fowler with a turnover, but Fasth just gets a piece of Thornton's shot.
17:19 - Ryan and Perry try to force the puck in during a pileup in front of the SJ net, but can't do it.
16:32 - Selanne trying as he might to get something going.
10:04 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JAMES SHEPPARD - Allen tries to backhand the puck out of the corner and it goes to Sheppard, who takes a quick shot from the top of the left wing circle that somehow slips by Fasth. They review it to see if a screening Havlat hit this one with a high stick, but he didn't. It's 4-2.
9:15 - Ducks escape.
9:09 - Deflected puck goes all the way up into section 405. That's the top level. Didn't know that was possible.
9:00 - Fasth with a huge stop on a Pavelski one-timer.
7:56 - Pavelski with a one-timer that Couture knocks down with a high stick under Fasth. It's ruled no goal on the ice, and after review...NO GOAL. Referee said review was "inconclusive" which means it helped big time that it was ruled no goal on the ice.
7:15 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. goaltender interference. Getzlaf leads the rush down right wing and feeds in deep to Perry, who appeared to have been pushed into Niemi. He's not happy with the call.
6:55 - Perry with some room in the slot and a hard wrister that Niemi gobbles.
5:30 - Beauchemin loses his led busting up Demers, just as the penalty ends. Ducks needed that.
3:30 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. slashing. Ducks momentum slowed as Sbisa chops down on Burish's stick.
1:37 - Third line of Winnik, Koivu and Cogliano back together and creating chances.
0:58 - ANAHEIM GOAL - FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN - Getzlaf controls the puck in the corner and backhands it to a wide-open Beauchemin in the slot. He slings a wrist shot past a drawn-out Niemi and under the crossbar. We've got ourselves a hockey game, 3-2.
0:24 - Fowler's dump-in hits the seam in the glass and skitters into the crease. Niemi is ready for it.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, Ducks on the PP.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get one back, and they'll have 28 seconds of PP time in the third to try to get within a goal
19:47 - Getzlaf tries to send it into the crease and it squirts around in there, but Niemi covers.
18:28 - SJS Penalty - Patrick Marleau, 2 min. holding the stick. Wait, how is that a penal ... Oh, holding another player's stick. Marleau gets tangled with Lovejoy in the corner.
16:34 - Fasth makes a huge stop on Sheppard, who was all alone on the breakaway.
16:20 - Palmieri whiffs on an open shot, then his pass goes under a Ducks stick. A few opportunities missed for Anaheim.
15:20 - Selanne has a golden opportunity taken from him, as he gets a pass wide open with only Niemi in front of him, but Niemi sells out to make the stop. That one hurt.
14:21 - Ducks clear it down the ice as the penalty winds down to zero.
12:21 - ANA Penalty - Ben Lovejoy, 2 min. holding. Didn't see it, sorry.
9:45 - Perry gets talken down behind the net, doesn't get a call, so gets up and puts the puck on net from the top of the crease. He's stopped by Niemi.
8:16 - ANAHEIM GOAL - EMERSON ETEM - Etem gets the second of his NHL life in unorthodox fashion, as he beats a Braun to the puck on the left wing, tries to center to Holland, but it hits off Stuart's leg and sneaks past Niemi. It's a goal the Ducks absolutely had to have, and it's 3-1.
7:34 - Burns, playing forward these days, gets behind the defense, and Fasth makes a big stop on him.
6:50 - Fasth with a stop off a Beauchemin giveaway.
2:50 - Ducks desperately need something here.
2:47 - SJS Penalty - Justin Braun, 2 min. tripping. Perry sprints down left wing, fires a shot in and out of Niemi's glove and then draws the trip.
0:34 - SAN JOSE GOAL - MARTIN HAVLAT - Fasth splays out to kick away an Irwin drive, but no one is there to cover the rebound but Havlat, who punches it through. It's 3-0.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Tough one for the Ducks, who give up two goals and trail it 2-0.
19:55 - Sbisa nearly makes up for his penalty with a shot from the left wing on the run, but it's wide right.
17:46 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. tripping. Sbisa trips Couture with the leg.
17:40 - Ryan whiffs on a shot, then Selanne does on the Ryan pass.
16:31 - Ducks with a fairly big kill.
14:31 - ANA Penalty - Ben Lovejoy, 2 min. Wingels takes a spill crashing the net and goes into the wall, and Lovejoy gets the hook.
14:20 - Fowler with yet another shot on net, this one blockered away by Niemi.
13:11 - Fasth with a couple of stops in a row to keep things respectable.
7:10 - SAN JOSE GOAL - JOE PAVELSKI - Loose puck comes to Perry, who tries to clear it in the circle, but he whiffs on it. Pavelski picks up the gift and sends it past Fasth to make it 2-0.
6:50 - Palmieri with a rocket that's kicked away by Niemi.
5:46 - SAN JOSE GOAL - BRENT BURNS - Thornton beats Allen in a race for the puck behind the Anaheim net, and he tips it over to Havlat. He feeds a charging Burns for the quick shot that beats Fasth on the glove side. It's 1-0 Sharks.
4:15 - Getzlaf with a quick one-timer off a Perry pass on the rush, and Niemi gets it at the last second. (No idea how Getzlaf saw that pass coming.)
1:30 - Fowler with an early bid to get that first goal of the season. He was robbed with a few seconds left last night.
1:00 - Ducks dodge an early bullet as a rebound comes off Fasth, but the putback in a pileup goes wide right.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
Fasth in net for Anaheim. The traditional third line split up a bit to start, with Ryan joining Koivu and Cogliano.
Starters in bold/italics.