ANAHEIM – If the New Year is anything like this one has been for them lately, it could be a very special one for the Anaheim Ducks.
Revenge was in the air on this New Year's Eve night, as Anaheim got ample payback for San Jose snapping their winning streak two nights ago, coming back with a 6-3 rout at Honda Center.
The win was the 11th in December for the Ducks, tying for the team record in any month. Six different players scored for Anaheim, which improved to 15-0-2 at Honda Center, remaining the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation at home. The Ducks (29-8-5) also moved back into a tie for the top spot in the league with Chicago.
The Sharks broke Anaheim’s club-record 10-game winning streak Sunday night at SAP Center with a 3-1 victory. But the Ducks came roaring back tonight in front of a sellout crowd of 17,424 with a power play goal, a shorthanded tally and five goals total in the final two periods. Jonas Hiller had 33 saves to earn his ninth straight win, a club record for goaltenders.
"I think Hilly [Jonas Hiller] won the game for us in the first period," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "They could’ve had a 5-1 lead at the end of one, and we end up leading 1-0. That’s the biggest part of the game. I think [Ben] Lovejoy stopping that puck in the empty net was a big momentum boost."
The Ducks all but put the game away after coming into the third period up by two goals and scoring two more in the first 2:25 of the stanza. The first came at 1:14 as Ryan Getzlaf got a pass up the right wing from Corey Perry and slung a laser past goalie Antti Niemi into the far top corner. That was the fifth goal of the game for Anaheim and chased Niemi to the bench, after which replacement Alex Stalock got a quick introduction.
With San Jose on the power play early in the period, Andrew Cogliano recovered the puck and sent it ahead to Saku Koivu on the breakaway. Koivu’s deke move was denied by Stalock, but Cogliano followed up to deposit the rebound and make it 6-2 Anaheim.
The Sharks got within three goals on that same power play, as Matt Irwin’s point shot was tipped through by rookie Bracken Kearns, who had his first NHL goal Sunday night in San Jose. But that was as close as they would come, as the Ducks won their 10th in the last 11 and went up seven points on the Sharks in the Pacific Division.
"If you look at their numbers, they’re crazy in the first period," said Getzlaf. "Our goalie [Jonas Hiller] did an unbelievable job keeping us in the first period. We could’ve easily been down a couple goals, at least. That’s what it takes to beat good teams. You need good goaltending, and our guys reacted well."
Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri scored the only goal of the first period – despite the Ducks getting outshot 17-7 by San Jose – tipping through a Matt Beleskey slapper from the point for his seventh of the year.
San Jose nearly tied it at the end of the first on the power play after a couple of outstanding Hiller saves, but Patrick Marleau’s rebound try came after the horn.
Yet San Jose made up for it 35 seconds into the second, while still on the man advantage, as Joe Thornton’s shot got blocked, but it squirted out to Dan Boyle, who hammered it top corner.
Anaheim went back up 2-1 on Francois Beauchemin’s first goal of the year, as a Getzlaf shot rebounded to Beauchemin, who sent it past sprawling goalie Antti Niemi.
The Sharks tied it again with 7:25 left in the period as Logan Couture got behind the defense and took in a perfect pass from Marleau before shooting it off Hiller’s skate and into the net.
But the Ducks dominated the rest of the frame, in which they would set a club record for shots in a second period with 25. Two of those found the net in the final five minutes, as Getzlaf again set it up with a shot off Niemi, and Nick Bonino went on his stomach to push it through. It was Anaheim’s first power play goal in its last 22 opportunities.
"We weren’t playing our game plan [in the first period]," said Cogliano, who played in his 500th consecutive game. "They took the play to us in the first, but I think we really turned that around in the second. We were really hard to play against. It was a good game, overall, for us. It was big to get a win at the end of the year, and go into the new year with fresh look."
Ben Lovejoy, whose wife Avery had their first child (a daughter) earlier in the day, saved a goal with 2:20 left in the period that would have tied the game. Hiller got caught behind the net chasing a puck that took a funny carom off the boards, and Thornton appeared to have a sure goal before Lovejoy dove in front of the net and saved it.
Not long afterward, the Ducks went up two goals when Bonino forced his way out from behind the net and sent the puck into the crease, where Beleskey backhanded it over the stripe through traffic.
The Ducks will look to continue their dominance at Honda Center on Friday night, when they take on the Edmonton Oilers.
The Ducks hit the New Year with the top record in the NHL at 29-8-5 (63 points). This marks the club’s best record ever through 42 games (previous best was 28-8-6, 62 points in 2006-07).
The Ducks are now 15-0-2 at Honda Center this year, becoming the third NHL team in 25 years to start a season with a home standings point streak of 17 games or-more. The two others are San Jose (20-0-2 in 2008-09) and Calgary (unbeaten streak of 14-0-3 in 1988-89). The Ducks’ streak is also their longest home standings point streak in club history at ANY point during a season (previous best was 14 games).
*Elias Sports Bureau
This also just the second time in club history the Ducks have won 11 (or more) games in a 12 game stretch (11-1-0). The only other time was Feb. 5 – Mar. 3, 2008 (also 11-1-0). Anaheim went 11-1-1 this month, the best December in club history and matching the team record for the most wins in ANY month (set three times previously). The Ducks also have points in 14 of their last 15 games (12-1-2).
Before Hiller, the last NHL netminder to win nine+ consecutive starts was Ray Emery (Chicago) who won 10 straight starts last season from Jan. 20 – Mar. 6, 2013.
Andrew Cogliano is the FIFTH player in NHL history and FIRST since Doug Jarvis to play 500 straight NHL games from the start of his NHL career*. After leaving the University of Michigan and joining the Edmonton Oilers, Cogliano played his first NHL game in Edmonton’s season opener on Oct. 4, 2007 vs. San Jose. He has not missed a game since. Jarvis is the NHL’s all-time “Ironman” with 964 consecutive NHL games played (1975-88).