By Kyle Shohara
If seven was heaven, then eight would be great. Tonight, the Ducks will look to close out their five-game homestand with an eighth consecutive victory against the visiting San Jose Sharks.
If the start to this season sounds familiar, you can look no further than the 2013-14 campaign in which the Ducks reeled off seven consecutive wins after getting trounced in the season opener. They’re on the same path this season after dropping a 6-4 contest at Pittsburgh on October 9.
How impressive is the run the Ducks are currently on? Anaheim is currently riding its fourth win streak of seven games or more since the start of last season. There have been only 10 total win streaks of seven games or more by NHL teams since the start of the 2013-14 season, four of which are by the Ducks.
In addition, Anaheim's seven-game win streak is the league’s longest since Boston won 12 straight from March 2-22, 2014. The Ducks continue to match the best start in franchise history by wins (also 2013-14, 7-1-0) and by points (also 2013-14 and 2006-07, 14). The club has scored three goals or more in seven of its eight games and allowed two goals or less in six of eight.
Defenseman Cam Fowler says their success is driven by confidence. “Once this group gets some confidence and starts seeing the results, it does wonders for us,” he said. “Bruce [Boudreau] does a good job preparing us for every game and making sure we’re ready mentally. I think it’s easy once you get a few under you. You want to have that feeling all the time. We’re just trying to take it game by game and keep this thing going.”
Tonight’s opponent is one the Ducks are quite familiar with. The Ducks are 54-54-10 all-time vs. the Sharks and own a 27-27-5 home record against their Pacific Division rival. Anaheim posted a 2-2-1 record vs. San Jose last season, winning both games played at Honda Center. Ryan Getzlaf paces Anaheim skaters in career scoring vs. San Jose, notching 9-35=44 points in 53 games.
This marks the first of five against San Jose, and the first of three to be played at Honda Center. Following the game, the season series will continue with games in Anaheim on December 22 and 31, and at SAP Center on November 29 and January 29.
“We always know what to expect against them,” said Fowler. “They’re always up there [in the standings] during the regular season and we seem to have some good, tight matches against them. We understand the test they’re going to give us, and it should be a good measuring stick for us to see where we’re at. Hopefully, we can come out with the same effort we have these last few games and, if we can do that, I like our chances.”
Adds head coach Bruce Boudreau, “When they’re on top of their game, they’re really good. They still have the depth of great forwards.”
Perhaps the Ducks are facing their divisional foe at the right time, as the Sharks enter the game losers of four straight after going 4-0-1 to begin the season. San Jose has been outscored 16-8 during the losing streak, which reached a low point yesterday in a 2-1 defeat to the Buffalo Sabres on home ice.
“We shouldn't lose a game like that," said Sharks forward Logan Couture. “We have a lot to figure out right now. I think it's good for us to have a quick turnaround. I think it stings that we lost four in a row. I could care less about what the Buffalo Sabres are doing right now. The San Jose Sharks have lost four straight games and two at home."
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said his team failed to “put the foot on the gas” against two struggling hockey clubs, and the result was unacceptable. The Ducks can expect a much different effort tonight.
“The good news is we play against one of the best teams in the league, so that will be a good test for us,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. “There's nothing wrong with [us]. At some point in the season all teams will lose four in a row. You don't want to, but it will happen. We have a good opportunity against a division rival to get out of it."
Corey Perry (9-3=12) and Ryan Getzlaf (3-9=12) have tied Paul Kariya's team record for most points through the team's first eight games of a season (Kariya had 5-7=12 in the opening eight games in 1998-99). Perry also became the fastest player in franchise history to nine goals (in eight games) in a 4-1 win on Friday vs. Columbus. With his second hat trick of the season and seventh of his career on October 22 vs. Buffalo, Perry also became the sixth player in the past 29 years to record multiple hat tricks in his team’s first seven games of season. The five others include Ilya Kovalchuk (2003), Brian Savage (1999), Mario Lemieux (1988), Glenn Anderson (1987) and Charlie Simmer (1985).
Perry now leads the NHL in goals and power-play goals (4), and co-leads in points (9-3=12), while Getzlaf leads the NHL in assists and co-leads in scoring (3-9=12) with Perry. Getzlaf has points in seven of eight games this season, including two straight multi-point games (1-5=6).
Ryan Kesler has 3-3=6 points in his first eight games as a Duck, while Devante Smith-Pelly has points in four of his last five games (2-2=4). Sami Vatanen already has a career-high three power-play goals in eight games, and ranks tied for second among NHL leaders. Vatanen also leads the league in power-play points (3-4=7) and ranks tied for second for goals by a defenseman (3).MILESTONES WITHIN REACHFrancois Beauchemin
- 2 points to 200 NHL pointsAndrew Cogliano
- 6 points to 100 points as a DuckCam Fowler
- 1 assist to 100 NHL assistsRyan Kesler
- 1 point to 400 NHL pointsNate Thompson
- 1 appearance to 400 NHL gamesBruce Boudreau
- 4 games to 200 games with Anaheim