By Kyle Shohara
Perhaps the best roster move of the season for the Ducks came on October 28 when Ryan Getzlaf’s appendix was removed and shown the door for good. Anaheim’s captain looked like a new man out there last night, capping off his best performance of the season with three assists in the club’s 4-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center.
It’s a great sign for the Ducks, who have won three straight and find themselves in San Jose for an opening night rematch against the Pacific Division-rival Sharks.
The Ducks did not hold a morning skate, so the question of who starts in net remains to be seen. Frederik Andersen enters tonight's game ranked 10th among NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (2.03) and tied for eighth in save percentage (.935%), and has allowed two goals or less in eight of his 10 appearances this season. Tonight would be Andersen’s eighth consecutive start. Anton Khudobin made his Anaheim debut on October 14 vs. Arizona and earned his first win as a Duck four days later vs. Minnesota. Khudobin's last start came on October 22, a 5-1 loss at Nashville.
After a horrific 1-7-2 start to the season, the Ducks (4-7-2, 10 points) have clawed their way back into the standings and currently sit four points back of the third place Sharks (7-6-0, 14 points) in the division. San Jose has cooled off considerably after a 4-0 start to the 2015-16 regular season. Since then, the Sharks have gone 3-6-0 and have been outscored 33-25 after only allowing two goals over four games to begin the season.
“Our toughest battle will be [tonight],” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’ll just have to prepare. If we have success there, we’ll start thinking other thoughts.” The other thoughts remark was a response to the question of if he believes three consecutive victories is officially considered a streak.
With the Ducks trending upward, the Sharks know they’re in for a battle tonight.
“You have to expect a bigger, better effort from them,” said Sharks defenseman Paul Martin. “We'll have to make sure that we match or have a better intensity, especially in our own rink and come out and set the tone early and make sure that we're ready to play.”
What felt like so long ago was really only last week, when the Ducks ended an unsuccessful (and winless) five-game road trip with a 2-1 loss in St. Louis. Now the team is starting to resemble the powerhouse that everyone believed they could be, especially with the Big Two (Getzlaf and Corey Perry) hitting their stride. The top line, which also includes left wing Patrick Maroon, combined for a goal and six assists last night. Maroon ended a goalless streak of his own, while Perry (who scored his first of the season on Wednesday) assisted on three of Anaheim’s four goals. Perry has four points in his past two games.
The last time Getzlaf and Perry recorded three assists in the same contest was Feb. 27, 2013 vs. Nashville (5-1 win). Perry’s last three-assist game was Dec. 21, 2013 at the New York Islanders, while Getzlaf’s last such contest was Dec. 7, 2014 at Winnipeg. The Ducks improved to 14-3-0 all-time when both record three points or more in the same game (Elias Sports Bureau).
The Ducks will need their best players to be just that tonight in a building that has seen them come away winless in six consecutive tries. Anaheim’s last win at SAP Center came on March 29, 2012.