ANAHEIM -- Before the season started, Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins spoke of the speed and tenacity his team would play with. It was on full display tonight in a resounding 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center, which improved Anaheim's record to 2-0 to begin the 2019-20 season.
They were relentless on the puck, hounding a Sharks team that played last night and came in with a winless record. (They fell to 0-3 after tonight's loss). The Ducks forced turnovers, which led to the game's opening goal when Ondrej Kase intercepted a pass from Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell before finding Michael Del Zotto crashing the net. They were also aggressive, forcing the Sharks to cough the puck up multiple times with the man advantage. But it was also how the team responded that made a difference tonight.
Video: SJS@ANA: Del Zotto buries one-timer into open net
"That was a lot of fun," said Ducks forward Devin Shore. "When you're playing with speed and everyone is on the same page and you're playing with the puck. I think you can ask any player, that's when it's the most fun. Nobody likes to be stuck in their own end or fighting to get the puck back. When we're playing and working for each other, it's a lot of fun out there."
Less than two minutes after Sharks captain Logan Couture tied the game at the 5:44 mark of the second period, the Ducks answered back with the go-ahead tally from their captain, Ryan Getzlaf. It was Kase again, this time finding Getzlaf streaking down the ice for a breakaway. With a quick shoulder fake, Getzlaf got Dell to bite, and managed to sweep the puck across the stripe as he was upended. The Ducks weren't done.
Video: SJS@ANA: Getzlaf nets goal on partial break
After several minutes of sustained zone time, Adam Henrique raced down the left wing, blowing by Sharks forward Kevin Labanc. He walked in on Dell, brought the puck to his backhand and roofed it to send an already raucous Honda Center crowd into a deafening roar.
Video: SJS@ANA: Henrique dekes, roofs backhander
"It's kind of something we're trying to put in our game in the shift length and kind of rolling everybody over," said Henrique. "I think you've kind of seen it in the first two [games] now. Quicker shifts kind of allows everybody to be at a higher pace. It allowed us in that game at times to take over and continue the pressure, and maybe created a few more chances for us. That's something that's going to be big for us the whole season. It's something we'll always go back to, roll everybody over. If we're getting all four lines involved, you can just play at a higher pace and eventually throughout the game it wears on the other team."
After the cheers came a hearty dose of tears. During a stoppage of play in the first period, Sergeant Robert Munoz of the U.S. Army surprised his wife, Megan, their children Brayen and Conner, and his father and stepmother. The moment was captured on the scoreboard and was met with a huge ovation. A diehard Ducks fan, Sergeant Munoz returned home after 11 months overseas and wanted to reunite with his family at the game tonight.
Video: SGT. Robert Munoz Surprises Family at Honda Center
There were times in the game when the Ducks bent, but their No. 1 netminder didn't break. John Gibson was terrific again in net, stopping 35-of-36 shots to improve to 2-0 this season. Gibson has given up just one goal in each of his first two starts. Perhaps his biggest saves came early in the third period when he robbed Jonny Brodzinski on multiple chances in the slot.
They were able to take care of business at home in these first two games, an important step as they now embark on a four-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Detroit.