The first- and second-place clubs in the NHL’s Pacific Division hooked up for the second time in 11 days at HP Pavilion Tuesday night. The game would again be a 4-3 final at HP Pavilion, but this time it was the Ducks who walked away with the victory.
Evgeni Nabokov faced off against J-S Giguere between the pipes. Kyle McLaren missed his second consecutive game with the flu.
Click here for video highlights from Saturday’s game.
Anaheim did not post a shot in the game’s opening minutes, but when they did, it went on the scoreboard. A seemingly harmless shot by Travis Green from just inside the blueline tucked just inside the right post and provided the early lead.
San Jose looked to quickly respond via a Joe DiPenta penalty, but Giguere turned away San Jose’s one good chance.
With 8:35 left in the opening period, San Jose found the equalizer when Jonathan Cheechoo attempted to force a shot off Giguere from right on the goal line. The initial stop was made, but while lying on the ice, Christian Ehrhoff swiped at the loose puck and after a review from upstairs, the scoreboard registered 1-1.
Team Teal faced a pivotal sequence when a Mark Smith double-minor penalty for high-sticking provided Anaheim’s vaunted power play with four minutes of ice time. Led as usual by Curtis Brown and Mike Grier, and anchored by Nabokov, the Ducks were turned away.
With just over a minute remaining in the first, Joe Thornton drew a delayed penalty on Anaheim after a great individual effort. The Sharks did not wait for the stoppage in play. Nabokov left the ice and Captain Patrick Marleau jumped on as the extra attacker on the delayed penalty. Marleau then took a perfect cross-ice feed from Thornton and one-timed the puck past Giguere giving the Sharks the 2-1 lead.
On the ensuing faceoff after the go-ahead goal, Anaheim looked to rally around a fight just as San Jose did in the most recent contest between the two teams. Looking to give his team a spark, Shawn Thornton challenged Mark Bell who accepted. Bell earned the close decision between the two and the crowd at HP Pavilion roared their approval for both players.
The exciting first period would end with San Jose up 2-1.
Anaheim would use the strong play of Chris Kunitz to pull even after an unsuccessful Sharks power play effort. The Ducks winger came down the left side and circled behind the net. His centering pass from behind the goal line bounced off Nabokov’s pads through the five-hole.
Marleau showed his strength when he skated through the neutral zone with the puck and was met with a thunderous hit. While he lost his balance, he kept the puck in play and skated in on a two-on-one. The effort provided San Jose with several strong opportunities on the shift, but the contest remained tied.
The Ducks would change that with 6:55 left in the second on another play from behind the net. Nabokov made a first save on a shot from the slot that jumped to the rear boards. Dustin Penner quickly jumped on it and used his long reach for a quick wraparound that just found its way past Nabokov.
When Team Teal skated on their next power play, they took their turn to tie the game. After Matt Carle just missed on an open net, the Sharks regained their composure and Joe Pavelski skated through the Ducks defenders and around the net. His attempt to stuff the puck short side was rebuffed, but the rebound beautifully sat for Bernier who knocked it in.
Giguere was hurt on the play and had to be replaced by Michael Wall.
The battle tested clubs would head to the lockerrooms knotted at three apiece.
Neither club could muster much offense in the first nine minutes of the third as each team posted just one shot. Then at the third’s midway point, Anaheim regained the lead. A point shot by Samuel Pahlsson was redirected by Corey Perry and the Sharks were again behind a goal.
With San Jose down to the final 5:25, Mark Smith drew an obvious obstruction penalty to Shane O’Brien and the Sharks would use the TV timeout to map out their game plan. When Chris Pronger cleared the puck for a delay of game penalty, San Jose had 54 seconds of five-on-three time to rally the troops. Thanks to some incredible play from Scott Niedermayer, the Sharks were turned away.
San Jose hits the HP Pavilion ice against Thursday night with the Phoenix Coyotes in town with former fan favorites Mike Ricci and Owen Nolan. Tickets are still available for the 7:30 p.m. faceoff at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest can be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.