All seemed fine through the first 19 minutes and 50 seconds of the first period, the Ducks and San Jose Sharks seconds away from heading into the intermission tied. Then, the Sharks scored. And when the puck dropped to begin the second period, they scored again, and again, and again, and again.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Ducks found themselves on the losing end of a 5-0 game to the Sharks on Tuesday night at SAP Center in front of an announced crowd of 15,032. Goals from Filip Sandberg in the first period - and a four-goal outburst from Daniel O'Regan, Mikkel Boedker, Kevin Labanc and Brandon Bollig in the second period - propelled the Sharks to a victory in their preseason opener, while goaltender Aaron Dell stopped all 24 shots in net.
Reto Berra went the distance for the Ducks, giving up five goals on 36 shots in Anaheim's preseason debut. Ultimately, this game will be a thing of the past in the weeks and months that follow, but that doesn't mean it won't sting a bit in the present.
The Sharks opened the scoring when Sandberg's wrist shot beat Berra glove-side with 10 seconds remaining on the clock. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward used his speed to split the defensive tandem of Marcus Pettersson and Josh Manson, and found himself in all alone on Berra to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise decent period for the Ducks, who came up empty on two power-play opportunities, but held the edge in hits, 14-4.
San Jose increased its lead to 2-0 when O'Regan snapped a shot past Berra just 1:40 into the second period. The 23-year-old forward, selected in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, led the AHL's San Jose Barracuda in scoring last season with 58 points (23g/35a) in 63 games.
The Sharks struck again, this time with the man advantage at the 12:43 mark of the middle frame to take a 3-0 lead. Allowed time and space, Boedker unleashed a snap shot from the left faceoff dot for his first goal of the preseason. Anaheim was in the midst of killing off Manson's penalty for slashing when Boedker beat Berra far side.
The Ducks were burned again less than three minutes later when Labanc converted for his first goal of the preseason. Earning a secondary assist on the goal was O'Regan, giving him two points in the preseason opener.
A nightmarish middle frame got worse when San Jose scored its fourth goal of the period to increase its lead to 5-0. This time, it was the veteran forward Bollig who scored 56 seconds after Labanc's tally.
Bollig was the center of attention midway through the third period when he dropped the gloves with Ducks forward Jared Boll, who delivered a thunderous check behind the Sharks net. Bollig was given five minutes for fighting and an additional two minutes for roughing. It was the first and only fight of the night between the two California rivals, who will meet once more on September 28 at Honda Center.
The Ducks finished the game with 32 hits to San Jose's 11, with Logan Shaw leading all skaters in that category. Shaw recorded eight hits in 15:20 TOI, while Nick Ritchie followed with seven hits over 15:41 TOI. Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour skated in a game-high 22:57 TOI, and finished with two shots, three blocked shots and a minus-2 rating. Derek Grant, who won 12 of 15 draws (80%), led the Ducks in faceoff win percentage. Overall, the Sharks won 51% of the faceoffs.
Anaheim's preseason continues tomorrow night against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.