The wear on their faces when the final buzzer sounded said it all. The Ducks, playing the second half of back-to-backs against the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks, gave it everything they had and came away with a gutsy 2-1 victory over their California rivals at SAP Center. It had the look and feel of a playoff game, and the win brought the Ducks within just four points of the Sharks for first place in the tightly contested Pacific Division.
Patrick Eaves and Jakob Silfverberg lit the lamp for the Ducks, who have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven games and 6-2-1 dating to the end of their bye week on March 3. The Ducks also won the five-game season series between these two clubs, finishing with a 3-0-2 record with points in eight consecutive games against the Sharks (14 points, 6-0-2) dating to Nov. 7, 2015.
"We stayed with it," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had a milestone evening. "We had a couple bounces not go our way and a couple calls. Our team didn't fall off the rails. That's a good sign for us going forward."
Jonathan Bernier was spectacular again, stopping 33 of 34 shots for his fifth win in his last six starts (5-0-1). Bernier has allowed two goals or less in his last five starts and has earned wins in seven of his last 10. With the win, Bernier improved his record this season to 15-7-3.
Logan Couture scored the lone goal for San Jose, which has lost two in a row. Martin Jones turned aside 25 of 27 shots, dropping his record to 32-18-6.
The Ducks jumped out to an early lead just 38 seconds into the game when Eaves sent a blistering snap shot into the top corner over Jones' left shoulder to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. His goal ended a drought of five games without a point, and also represented his third goal as a Duck and 24th overall this season.
Video: ANA@SJS: Getzlaf notches 800th point on Eaves' goal
With the primary assist, Getzlaf became the second player in team history to record 800 career NHL points in a Ducks jersey, joining all-time franchise leader Teemu Selanne (988 points, 457g/531a). Getzlaf collected his 800th NHL point in his 852nd career game, becoming the 16th active NHL player to reach the 800-point milestone. He also joined current Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal (835) as the only two players from 2003 NHL Draft to collect 800 career NHL points.
"It's another milestone along the way," said Getzlaf. "I'm just trying to get better every year. This year, the points were a little harder to come by, but as of late we've been playing a lot better as a group."
Riding a wave of momentum following Eaves' goal, the Ducks nearly tacked on a few more. The post bailed out Jones on two separate occasions in the minutes that followed, first on a Ryan Kesler breakaway attempt and again on a Silfverberg rebound opportunity on the shortside.
San Jose found the equalizer on a 5-on-3 power play with under a minute remaining in the first period when Couture's wrist shot found the top corner for his 25th goal of the season.
The Ducks regained the lead at the 13:29 mark of the middle frame when Silfverberg pulled off his patented snap shot for his 20th goal and 42nd point of the season. The play started when Silfverberg blocked Paul Martin's point shot just inside the blueline. With no one behind Martin, Silfverberg was off the races and beat Jones over the glove in what has already been a career-setting season for the 26-year-old Swede.
Video: ANA@SJS: Silfverberg blocks shot, converts on break
Bernier's best sequence of the second period came with under two minutes remaining when he made consecutive stops on Joel Ward in close. His first stop came with his right leg pad - a sparkling kick save on a shot that was ticketed for the shortside. After Ward corralled his own rebound at the left corner, Bernier sprawled out and stuck with Ward as he moved behind the net. Bernier was able to smother Ward's attempted bank shot, keeping it a 2-1 game.
Video: ANA@SJS: Bernier robs Ward, lays out to deny rebound
San Jose nearly tied the game with nine minutes remaining in the third period when a net-mouth scramble had Bernier swimming. After making the initial save on Patrick Marleau's breakaway, Bernier slid out of position leaving the net open. Acting as the last line of defense, Kevin Bieksa manned the crease while the Sharks banged away at rebound opportunities. With the puck precariously laying in the crease, Ondrej Kase swatted it out of harm's way at the moment of truth to nullify San Jose's offensive push.
The Sharks pulled Jones for the extra attacker with two minutes left on the clock, but Bernier and the Ducks' defense stood tall, preserving a statement victory.
The Ducks will return to Orange County to open a three-game homestand beginning Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers.
NOTE: Andrew Cogliano appeared in his 776th consecutive game, tying Craig Ramsay (776) for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. The streak of 776 games (819 including playoff games) is the NHL's longest in more than 23 years, since Steve Larmer's 884th consecutive game took place on April 15, 1993. Cogliano's streak is also the second-longest from the start of a career. Cogliano is the NHL's active leader in consecutive games played and has never missed a game in his NHL career dating to Oct. 4, 2007 with Edmonton.