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Sharks build big lead, hold on to edge Ducks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- While his teammates were on the ice Saturday for their morning skate at SAP Center, San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture was at the hospital, getting treated for an illness that had caused an eye to swell up.

Couture was questionable to play against the Anaheim Ducks. But after receiving an IV and taking antibiotics, he participated in warm-ups and then scored the Sharks' first two goals in a 6-4 win.

"I thought he had a [heck] of a game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Probably his best game of the season in my opinion. He was all over the puck, he played well defensively, looked really good."

Couture got San Jose off to the fast start it was missing during its four-game losing streak, which ended Saturday. The Sharks didn't hold a lead at any point in their previous four games, but Couture ended that drought at 9:05 of the first period when Patrick Marleau rifled a slap shot from above the right circle into traffic that bounced off Tommy Wingels and two Ducks, then ricocheted to Couture at the right of the crease. Couture fired a wrist shot past goalie Frederik Andersen.

Joe Pavelski, Wingels, Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto also scored for the Sharks (11-10-4), who have won both of their games against Anaheim this season. The Sharks hadn't scored more than three goals in nine straight games before Saturday.

"We needed it," Couture said. "We haven't been scoring many goals so it was good to find some way to score -- shorthanded, power play, even strength. A couple minutes it got away from us in the third, but overall a pretty good game."

Corey Perry scored two goals for the Ducks (14-6-5), giving him a team-high 14. Matt Beleskey and Ryan Getzlaf also scored.

Andersen allowed five goals on 19 shots before being replaced by backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera at 6:06 of the second period with San Jose leading 5-1.

The Ducks were coming off a 4-1 loss Friday to the Chicago Blackhawks, but they mustered the energy to wage a furious comeback. They scored three unanswered goals, the first two by Perry and the third by Getzlaf, to cut San Jose's lead to 5-4 at 4:20 of the third period.

"We have to get a spark somehow," Perry said. "It's our duty to be ready to play. If we keep playing like we did in the second half, we'll be fine. It wasn't pretty the first half of the game. They worked for it. Then we worked for what we got the rest of the way. The third period, especially, we took over the game and played the way we wanted. We haven't done that the past three or four games."

After Getzlaf scored, McLellan called a time out to deliver a strong message.

"Tonight kind of epitomizes our team," McLellan said. "We come out and we do exactly what we want to do. We play with a straight-forward mentality, no turnovers, a hard forecheck, physical, on pucks, special teams are sharp. We get a lead and now we want to play a different game. We want to play a softer cuter game, if you will, make plays.

"We started to turn pucks over, we weren't as physical. We weren't playing north-south, we weren't shooting, and that timeout was to remind them that that's what got us to the four-goal lead, and we got away from it. We're disappointed we gave up that lead. We're very happy we won the game."

The Sharks tightened up and Nieto gave them a two-goal cushion with an empty-net goal with 49.2 seconds left.

After Couture put San Jose ahead 1-0, the lead lasted 1:48. Anaheim pulled even on Beleskey's 11th goal of the season. Hampus Lindholm sent a shot through heavy traffic and Beleskey redirected the puck past Niemi (30 saves).

San Jose moved back ahead on Couture's shorthanded goal at 14:35 of the first period. Lindholm mishandled a pass in the neutral zone, and Couture swooped in for the puck and went in on a breakaway. He wristed a shot between Andersen's pads for his 10th goal of the season.

"Felt good scoring when the puck just finds you with an open net, then you get a lucky bounce and you get a breakaway," Couture said. "Felt all right."

Pavelski increased San Jose's lead to 3-1 via the power play with 14 seconds left in the first period. Joe Thornton sent a cross-crease pass from below the right circle to Pavelski, and he hammered a shot from close range past Andersen.

Wingels made it 4-1 at 2:46 of the second period, redirecting Marleau's long blast through Andersen's pads.

The Sharks scored again at 6:09 on Hertl's fifth goal of the season. Defenseman Josh Manson made an errant pass in Anaheim's end that went to Hertl along the left boards. He darted toward the slot and beat Andersen with a backhand to the far side. The goal prompted Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to replace Andersen with LaBarbera.

Anaheim cut San Jose's lead to 5-2 at 18:52 of the second period on Perry's first goal of the game. Getzlaf sent a pass ahead to Perry in the slot and he flipped a backhand shot over Niemi's right shoulder.

Perry scored again 29 seconds into the third period. Getzlaf sent a long shot toward the net into traffic and the puck bounced off Perry and past Niemi to make it 5-3.

Getzlaf made it a one-goal game at 4:20 of the third when he capitalized on a turnover by Marleau in the Sharks zone to score his seventh goal of the season on a nifty backhand.

The Ducks had scored a combined six goals in their previous three games. Boudreau split up Perry and Getzlaf to start the game, but he put them back together late in the second period.

"We weren't getting any goals," Boudreau said. "I tried to get a couple lines to go offensive and we get down 5-1, so that's not working. I put them back together and they showed the passion that comes with playing well. I could care less if they're mad at me, if that's what it takes. I hope they know the message. I need more.

"Late in the second period they showed they could be the dominant players they are, and that continued into the third period. They got mad, they got back into the game and good things happened."

Sharks forward Mike Brown was activated from injured reserve and was in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 11 when he broke his left hand in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. San Jose placed forward Tyler Kennedy (lower body) on IR to make room for Brown on the active roster. He skated on the fourth line with center Andrew Desjardins and John Scott, who had been a healthy scratch for seven straight games.

Defenseman Eric Brewer made his Ducks debut, one day after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Ducks have four defensemen on IR (Ben Lovejoy, Mark Fistric, Clayton Stoner and Francois Beauchemin).

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