It had been nine days between games for the Ducks, and the extended time away from the rink certainly showed. They were outplayed for large stretches of what ended up being a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center, and were guilty of committing a handful of costly turnovers in their own zone. Perhaps it was rust. Whatever the case, it was a disappointing result after entering the break with two consecutive victories.
The score could've been far worse if not for John Gibson's work in net. The veteran netminder (27 saves on 31 shots) was under siege for large chunks of this game, but made several glorious stops to keep the Ducks close through two periods.
Ondrej Kase's shorthanded breakaway goal at the 9:04 mark of the second period cut a two-goal deficit in half. It marked Kase's first career shorthanded tally, and the team's eighth of the season. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell finished the game with 26 saves on 28 shots.
Video: ANA@SJS: Kase slides home backhander for SHG
The Ducks were burned by two-goal performances from 40-year-old forward Patrick Marleau and former teammate Stefan Noesen. The Sharks claimed Noesen off waivers on Dec. 19, and the 26-year-old recorded his first multi-goal game since Feb. 15, 2018 with New Jersey (vs. Carolina). With his second goal of the game, Marleau (22) joined Gordie Howe (24), Mark Messier (22) and Alex Delvecchio (22) as the fourth player in NHL history to score 10-plus goals in at least 22 consecutive seasons.
After missing 19 games with an MCL sprain, Nick Ritchie returned to the lineup tonight and scored his fourth goal of the season with 1:53 remaining in regulation to make it 4-2. "I felt OK," he said. "I'd been off for a while. There was some rust there, but I had a couple good shifts. Something to build on. There was something there."
Video: ANA@SJS: Ritchie buries wrist shot past Dell
As for the game itself, Ritchie says the execution level just wasn't there from the start. "It was a bad stretch at the start," he said. "Not making an excuse. I know we had a long break, but so did they. [San Jose] jumped on us. There's a lot of things we need to work on. We just weren't sharp tonight. We weren't making plays. We were a little slow. We couldn't get the puck out of our end at the start of the game. If you can't get it out, you can't get any offense. That was the difference in the game."
Tonight also marked the return of Troy Terry. It represented Terry's first game with the Ducks since suffering a broken bone below his kneecap on Dec. 17 at Philadelphia. The 22-year-old right wing appeared in seven games with the San Diego Gulls prior to his recall.
Jakob Silfverberg didn't accompany the team to San Jose due to the birth of his second child, daughter Flora, born earlier today.
The Ducks will open a two-game homestand beginning Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes.