San Jose moved a big step closer to claiming their third Pacific Division title with their 2-1 victory against Anaheim, moving Team Teal seven points ahead of the second place Ducks. San Jose also leads third place Dallas by 10 points.
The maximum amount of points the second place Ducks can earn is 104, meaning, as long as Anaheim continues winning, six points in the Sharks remaining seven games will clinch the Pacific Division. The number could be less depending on losses by Anaheim and Dallas.
San Jose has increased their division lead by winning 14 of the last 15 games and taking 29 of the last possible 30 points. Team Teal trails Detroit by just five points for the overall points lead and the Presidents’ Trophy.
“This team has a lot of confidence,” said Joe Thornton
. “We’ve beat some good teams on this run we’ve had.”
The Sharks have a feeling the clubs could play more that just the regular season game remaining on March 28.
“They’re a good team,” said Thornton. “I’m sure we’ll see them in the playoffs.”
Anaheim had the better of San Jose most of this season, so the victory was a bit of a statement even if the Ducks were missing some key personnel.
“Going into the playoffs, we have to prove we can beat these teams,” said Jeremy Roenick. “They are such a great team. They are playing without Pronger or Perry, but come playoff time, they will be a different team.”
“This wasn’t do or die, but it showed them how much we’ve changed,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “We can play the same game against Anaheim, Detroit, Montreal or Ottawa. We didn’t have to change our game.”
The San Jose Sharks tied a franchise record by not allowing one shot to the Ducks in the third period and their +30 shot differential also set a team record. The final shot count on the night was 43-13.
What is more impressive is the Ducks were blanked on the shot clock in a period where they were trailing by just one goal for most of the time.
“That was unbelievable offensively and defensively,” said Wilson. “It was about puck possession. We must have had it 75 percent of the time.”
“We’ve been pretty good in one-goal games all year,” said Thornton. “It’s one thing we take pride in and it says something about our team.”
It wasn’t just the defensemen blocking shots either.
“A lot of credit goes to the forwards for coming back hard tonight,” said Brian Campbell.
Jeremy Roenick has 13 goals on the season, but an amazing nine of them have been game-winners, including his power play tally on Friday. And that doesn’t count his game-closing performances in the shootout.
“He’s such a great player and he has a lot of confidence in key situations,” said Thornton.
“I’d like to see where that ranks percentage wise (in NHL history),” said Roenick, who is tied for second in the NHL in the category.
GETTING A BREAK
The Sharks have been making up their games in hand on the rest of the division over the past three weeks, but now will go four days between contests.
“I was very tired the last couple of games,” said Campbell.
On Friday, the Sharks hosted their annual Fantasy Camp where campers participated in their own game-day experience with former Sharks players. The event, a fundraiser for the Sharks Foundation, included a pregame skate, pregame meal, a game at HP Pavilion featuring all the in-game announcements and tickets to watch the game in one of the arena’s luxury terraces. This year the former Sharks included Jeff Friesen, Igor Larionov, Bryan Marchment, Jamie Baker, Al Iafrate and Dave Maley.
LOTS OF FACE TIME
Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov played in his 71st game this season and is three away from tying Arturs Irbe’s franchise record of 74 set in 1993-94. Nabokov keeps increasing his club record for wins in a season as he now has 43.
POINTING OUT THE NUMBERSJoe Thornton
has 12 points in his last 11 games (4+8=12) and leads the league with 64 helpers.Joe Pavelski
has four points in the last four games (1+3=4).
Brian Campbell has 12 points in his 13 games with the Sharks.
DUCKS HEAD COACH RANDY CARLYLE
“We didn’t execute obviously and they trapped us in the neutral ice and we kept turning the puck over. We didn’t make any decisions with the puck that put us in a position to establish our forecheck until right at the end.”
“The whole (third) period started poorly for us when went down two men again for the second time in the game. The first time we killed it off and the second one they got a goal from the goal line. Roenick’s goal was tough. I’m sure Hiller would like to have that one back, but he made some outstanding stops and gave us a chance in the game.”
The Sharks will play in Phoenix on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.