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Ducks top Sharks to earn split of home-and-home

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks have talked about continuing to push, whether it's through the successes or struggles, in what has become a season of high expectations.

That message didn't change after the Ducks pushed right through the rival San Jose Sharks into the new year.

Coming off a loss in the opener to their home-and-home series with the Sharks, the Ducks blitzed San Jose with three goals in the second period of a 6-3 win at Honda Center on New Year's Eve.

The Ducks used three second-period goals and two early in the third to take control of the game.

Anaheim is the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss at home (15-0-2). It went 11-1-1 overall in December and opened a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division over the second-place Sharks, who have two games in hand.

"It's great," said goalie Jonas Hiller, who set a team record with his ninth straight win. "I think the expectations are definitely higher this year than last year, where we kind of flew under the radar. But now this year, everybody was kind of expecting us to do well, and to be able to keep up to those expectations is not an easy thing, especially in the Western Conference or the Pacific Division.

"It's always nice if you look at the standings and you see your team up there, but at the same time, we came there because we were working hard. You can't just look at the standings the rest of the year and hope we stay there. We've got to keep working."

The Ducks' 25 shots were a team record for a second period, and it scored five goals in a span of 11:25 from midway through the second to 2:25 of the third. Captain Ryan Getzlaf reached 20 goals for the first time since the 2008-09 season with a signature wrist shot that beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi from the right circle at 1:14 of the third.

Andrew Cogliano, playing in his 500th consecutive game, scored shorthanded at 2:25 to finish a 2-on-0 rush after two Sharks fell down.

"Whenever you can score a goal in a game that's meaningful for you, it's always fun, especially with a big win. It came together nicely for me tonight," Cogliano said. "I'll move on now. A lot of it has been luck, but … I think I work hard and I take care of myself. I've been able to stay healthy. I think this is the beginning. Hopefully, I have a lot more games to go."

San Jose, which ended Anaheim's franchise-record 10-game winning streak Sunday, had its four-game winning streak end. The Sharks outshot the Ducks 17-8 in the first, but their early dominance was washed away when Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring by deflecting Matt Beleskey's point shot past Niemi with 3:36 left in the period.

The Sharks got goals from Dan Boyle and Logan Couture to tie it at 1-1 and 2-2 in the second, but spent most of the period trapped in their zone.

"You obviously want to keep that momentum going, but that second period we were just caught staring most of the period, and it definitely cost us," San Jose captain Joe Thornton said. "What can I say? That second period killed us.

"We're usually good with dealing with pressure. We just weren't getting pucks out. I think we had it on our stick a couple times; we just couldn't get pucks out. They're a good team, and they make you pay if you don't get the puck out."

Anaheim got a great game from its fourth line of Nick Bonino, Palmieri and Beleskey; the trio combined for three goals, four assists and a plus-six rating.

Beleskey finished off a second period played at breakneck pace with a shot that possibly went in off a Sharks player at 18:30 for a 4-2 lead. Moments earlier, defenseman Ben Lovejoy made a goal-saving stick deflection on Thornton's shot at an open net with Hiller out of position.

Lovejoy's wife, Avery, delivered their first child, a girl, Lila, earlier Tuesday.

"He was at the hospital all day having a baby, and then he puts in that kind of effort," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's pretty good."

Bonino highlighted the period when he swiped in the puck while falling down at 14:59 to make it 3-1. The power-play goal ended an 0-for-22 slump over the past eight games for Anaheim.

"Oh my god," Boudreau said. "I alluded that the power play, right now, is like a golf game in that we finished the front nine and we were horrible. We had a whole bunch of bogeys and triple bogeys. But it's a fresh slate on the back nine."

The six goals were the most San Jose has allowed this season.

Like Thornton, San Jose coach Todd McLellan was at a loss to explain the second-period struggles.

"We were on our toes," McLellan said. "We were winning the races. We were doing some of those things in the first. Where did it go in the second? I guess that's the big question we have to ask our group."

Anaheim left wing Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch; Boudreau said he wasn't pleased with his game Sunday. San Jose center Tommy Wingels missed the game with an upper-body injury sustained in a collision Sunday with Anaheim's Mark Fistric.

This is Anaheim's best-ever record through 42 games. The 63 points top the 62 by the 2006-07 Stanley Cup championship team.

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