San Jose, a team that couldn't shoot straight for much of the season, has suddenly remembered how to score in bunches.
The Sharks opened their seven-game home stand with a 4-0 victory, beating the Ducks for the second time in three days and sending them to their fourth straight defeat. San Jose won the five-game season series with Anaheim, going 3-2-0.
"Anaheim is a very, very good team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Their last little streak here they've been on their heels a little bit to begin games, and we knew we had to get after them right off the bat. I think that first shift that (Pavelski) had scoring set the tone for the next 10 minutes. We took advantage of it."
Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller, who entered the game with a career 2.16 goals-against average against San Jose, allowed four goals on 29 shots.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau used his timeout after San Jose's three-goal, deja vu outburst. In their 5-3 win against Anaheim on Monday night, the Sharks jumped to a 3-0 lead on goals by Burns and Pavelski in the first period and one by Martin Havlat just 34 seconds into the second.
"Our focus is to start fast," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We have been starting fast at home. Getting three goals early like that is huge. The game was pretty much over after that.
"I think we were moving fast. We were creating offense, getting in on their D, getting traffic in front of Hiller because he is a great goalie. I think it was a lot what we were doing."
The Sharks, fighting just to make the playoffs, have won two straight games for just the second time since Jan. 31 when they capped a seven-game streak to start the season with a shootout win against the Edmonton Oilers. They have 36 points and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for seventh in the Western Conference.
"We've beaten a team that's got a lot of points and is kind of running away with the division," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "To beat a solid team like Anaheim and now to be able to start the home stand off that way and build on the last game is something we desperately needed, to put a couple games together and get that momentum going a little bit and put up some more goals."
Thanks to its blistering start, which included a 12-game point streak, Anaheim is still solidly in second place in the West with 48 points, but the Ducks have hit their first true rough patch of the season. Next stop, Chicago -- where the Ducks will continue their four-game road trip against the 25-4-3 Blackhawks.
Thursday was initially scheduled solely as a travel day, but Boudreau said the Ducks will now practice after they arrive in Chicago.
"I got to believe they outworked us," Boudreau said. “We've talked about the first five minutes and the first period in general. It took us eight minutes to get back on track. You can't get behind 2-0, 3-0, in the first period consistently and expect to win. It catches up to you. Every team in the NHL sees this and knows, 'Let's get the Ducks in the first five minutes. They're not ready.' We were a 20-man team when we were successful. We can't do it with 10-12 guys and the rest going through the motions. We need to practice because things are unraveling, and we need it to get back together."
The Sharks have played two of their best games of the season in their home-and-home series against the Ducks. Those wins came after San Jose traded veteran defenseman Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins and just days before the April 3 trade deadline.
"I hope not," McLellan said. "I hope that we just play because we want to play, but there is some relevance to that, obviously. But, as we move forward, I think everybody wants to keep the team together and everybody wants to remain a Shark. Maybe they're trying to show us that right now."
Pavelski scored for the second straight game since being moved from a second-line wing to the third-line center. Clowe, in his first game after missing four straight with a shoulder injury, made a rush down the right boards and sent a pass ahead to TJ Galiardi, who went behind the net and sent the puck to Pavelski, and the latter beat Hiller with a wraparound, putting the puck just inside the left post, for his ninth goal of the season.
Minutes later, Clowe put a big hit on Ducks center Dave Steckel, sending him into the boards. Anaheim defenseman Bryan Allen shoved Clowe in the back, igniting a long bout that landed both of them in the penalty box at 4:03 for five minutes and seemed to give the Sharks even more energy.
"It feels fine," Clowe said of his shoulder. "I don't like to tippy-toe my way back and waste a lot of time so let's get into it right away. We played a good game tonight. I thought we played a real solid game."
Just 49 seconds later, Marleau took a pass from Logan Couture in the slot and ripped a shot past Hiller, making it 2-0 with his team-high 16th goal of the season.
Then with Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray in the box for holding Wingels, Burns ripped a shot from the left circle passed Hiller at 9:20 of the first period. The goal was Burns' fourth in eight games since making the switch from defenseman to forward.
"We knew they would be coming hard again, but we were not ready again," Hiller said. "I wish we knew the issue. At some point, we have to turn these around. It's like we are trying to do too much, maybe not trusting each other enough and trying to do two jobs at the same time. We know what the problem is and t is frustrating to keep talking about it. We don't want to let it happen. We have to change something. Maybe we lost a little confidence and suddenly we're losing games."
After a scoreless second period, Wingels put San Jose ahead 4-0 at 6:44 of the third with a short-handed goal. Defenseman Dan Boyle hit Couture with a pass, sparking a 2-on-1 rush, and Wingels beat Hiller to his stick side for a goal to go with his two assists.
Just before Wingels scored, Ducks forward Corey Perry punched a trailing Boyle in the face. There was no penalty for the punch, but soon after the goal, an angry Boyle and Perry started trading punches in a spirited fight. Both received two minutes for cross checking and five for fighting.
"On the shorthanded goal, he suckered me in the face," Boyle said. "Obviously, it kind of carried on from there. I don’t fight too often, but it was nice to get involved."
Veteran forward Radek Dvorak, who signed with Anaheim on Sunday and cleared waivers Monday, was officially added to the Ducks' roster Wednesday after his immigration issues were resolved. Dvorak, who had been playing in Switzerland, was in the lineup and played his first game of the season for the Ducks. He was on the ice for 11:08 and had one shot, one hit and one takeaway.
|Back to top|