As they did on Nov. 21, the Sharks and the Ducks clashed for Western Conference supremacy on Saturday night at HP Pavilion at San Jose. But unlike the first meeting, the Sharks got the best of the Ducks in a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Both teams played cautiously to open the game, neither willing to give the other an early advantage. The Ducks would earn the game’s first opportunity, drawing a penalty and setting up their power play, but the Sharks PK units easily handled the situation without allowing a scoring opportunity. In fact, the two scoring chances came via San Jose shorthanded via Patrick Rissmiller and Marcel Goc.
The Sharks then took their chance on the power play as Joe Thornton
drew the second penalty of the game. Ducks left winger Travis Moen tripped Thornton who was looking to setup on the half boards in the Ducks zone. The league’s sixth best penalty killing units held off the league’s second best power play unit on their first effort.
A series of penalties gave Anaheim 1:19 of four-on-three power play time with four minutes left in the opening period. During the shorthanded situation, Nabokov made a stellar stop on Ryan Getzlaf when it appeared the net was wide-open, but when Team Teal couldn’t clear the puck, Getzlaf got a second crack with a similar setup and this time he put the Ducks up 1-0.
San Jose was up a man for the final two minutes of the first and nearly tied the contest when Milan Michalek beautifully set up Steve Bernier wide open in the slot, but the one-timer went just wide and the 20 minutes concluded 1-0 in favor of Anaheim.
Anaheim jumped their lead to 2-0 early in the second. On what appeared to be a seemingly harmless shot on net from Cory Perry from just even above the goal line found its way under Nabokov, the Sharks deficit had doubled.
Mark Bell and Shane O’Brien tussled just after the tally and when Bell took O’Brien to the ice, the crowd roared their approval. Moments later on a race to the puck for icing, Chris Kunitz hammered Josh Gorges into the boards with a cheap shot and the tensions between the two clubs rose higher.
The emotional charge showed for San Jose as they scored within anther minute. Captain Patrick Marleau
was skating and controlling offensive zone play and when the puck found Joe Pavelski
, the rookie quickly returned the vulcanized rubber and a Marleau one-timer from the slot pulled San Jose within one.
When Thornton drew a penalty on Andy McDonald, the momentum was clearly flowing in the Sharks direction and they capitalized. Thornton centered a puck through the legs of three players and Mark Smith banged home the tying tally.
Within another minute the Sharks forced another power play situation, but this time they could not add the immediate go-ahead goal.
A run of four consecutive penalties, alternating between both clubs, provided brief power plays as the period wound down, (including additional roughing minors for Thornton and Teemu Selanne), but neither club could alter the scoreboard and things would remain even at two after two.
The Sharks were circling Giguere early in the third as three shots (Pavelski, Goc, Hannan) whistled just wide of the net.
Anaheim would retake the lead on their first power play of the third period. Team Teal killed off 1:50 of the two minutes, but as the Ducks advantage neared its conclusion, Dustin Penner put in a Perry pass to retake the lead.
The Sharks had almost eight minutes to retaliate, but they would need just 31 seconds. Matt Carle carried the zone and Jonathan Cheechoo was out front forcing the puck just across the goal line.
The Sharks would take their first lead of the game with 2:13 seconds remaining, converting again on the power play. Cheechoo set up in front of the net and Thornton took over from the half boards. After getting the puck from Marleau, Thornton fired a puck that deflected off the defender in front giving the Sharks their first lead of the game.
The Sharks would play the final 2:13 in penalty kill mode, chipping pucks out of the zone until time expired giving them the exciting 4-3 victory.
The Sharks host the third leg of their season-high six-game homestand, battling the Dallas Stars on Thursday, Dec. 21. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be telecast on FSN Bay Area. The game will also be broadcast on KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.