San Jose and the Mighty ducks played the first of consecutive contests in Anaheim Sunday evening, with the return game set for HP Pavilion Tuesday night. San Jose took their six-game winning streak into the contest against former Shark Teemu Selanne, but it would be the Ducks night as they prevailed 5-4 despite two goals from Grant Stevenson.
The Joe Thornton
line put up a couple of strong shots early and Marcel Goc almost set up Milan Michalek driving the net, but Evgeni Nabokov’s opposite number for the night, Jean-Sebastian Giguere broke up the pass. San Jose controlled play early, but could not draw the early score in the opening six minutes despite outshooting Anaheim 6-0.
When Josh Langfeld was tripped up skating into the offensive zone, San Jose had the game’s initial power play. The Sharks set up several times in the offensive zone, but Giguere never faced a difficult shot. Just as the two minutes ended, the Mark Smith line was grinding the puck down low and they drew another power play opportunity.
It was Anaheim who would score during the two minutes though. Chris Kunitz picked the pocket of Niko Dimitrakos entering the zone. Kunitz knocked the puck up ice and chased it down himself for a one-on-one affair with Nabokov. The Ducks forward used a nice shoulder fake and deposited the puck five-hole for the opening tally. Patrick Marleau
drew a third Anaheim penalty with four minutes left in the first and this time San Jose would strike. A nice play by Christian Ehrhoff kept play in the Anaheim zone and when the puck went to Grant Stevenson, he displayed his talents. The rookie winger pulled the puck between his legs before turning on Giguere and tying the game prior to the first intermission’s conclusion.
The action was fast and furious early in the second. It began with San Jose shorthanded and Mark Smith being whistled for hooking, forcing San Jose to kill off 33 seconds of five-on-three time. The first penalty was easily eliminated, but with Anaheim still up a man, Teemu Selanne found himself alone on Nabokov, but San Jose’s top netminder shut down the Ducks top scorer.
When things returned to five-on-five, Anaheim would retake the lead thanks to their big summer free agent signee Scott Niedermayer. The veteran blueliner simply threw one toward the net and with a screen set out front, Nabokov had no chance on the play.
The goal by the Ducks captain would be answered by the Sharks Captain. Marleau had significant help as Josh Langfeld was helping on the forecheck creating havoc of the defensemen. On the sequence, Marleau picked the pocket of the Ducks blueliner and rifled a shot top shelf to tie things at two.
San Jose’s penalty killers were challenged once again with a brief Ducks five-on-three and the following five-on-four advantage. Alyn McCauley almost single-handedly killed off the five-on-three by taking the draw and then controlling the puck in the Anaheim zone for 10 seconds.
Just as the power plays concluded, Anaheim struck. Again, it was a long shot from the point, but it went of Tyler Wright for a fluke goal and the 3-2 lead.
San Jose again looked to retaliate and again it was Marleau in the mix. He controlled play in the Anaheim zone and set up Stevenson who drove the net looking for his second tally. This time the highlight save went to Giguere who maintained the 3-2 score.
Giguere made that stop, but could not handle Marleau and Stevenson on their next shift. Marleau continued his strong play on the puck and looked to center McCauley near the crease. However, the puck was deflected up in the air and just as it landed in the high slot, Stevenson launched a one-timer that tied the contest.
A Marchant boarding penalty on Murray gave San Jose an opportunity to take a late second period lead, but Nabokov had to be the most important Shark during the two minutes, shutting down two odd-man rushes.
The third period would finish tied at three.
San Jose came close to their first lead of the game when Joe Thornton
set up Jonathan Cheechoo for what would be a pair of shots from the high slot. Giguere turned away both prior to Anaheim striking on the other end.
Taking the puck behind the Sharks net, Lupal sent a pass through the crease that found Marchant driving the net and he knocked it in before Nabokov could reach the far side. Anaheim had their fourth lead of the game as the tally made it 4-3.
The game’s pattern would continue in the back-and-forth affair as San Jose responded. With Marleau’s line contributing for the first three goals, Joe Thornton
’s crew jumped in for goal number four. Joe Thornton
made and incredible individual effort behind Giguere to control the puck for 10 seconds. When he finally skated out, he found Tom Preissing at the point who one-timed the puck toward the net. Scott Thornton was planted firmly beside the net and redirected the shot to tie the game for a fourth time.
A controversial play ensued just after and Anaheim would again benefit from a lucky bounce. A Scott Niedermayer shot toward the net was knocked from the air by his brother Rob. The puck went into the net and was ruled a goal, but the officials knew word would officially have to come from the video review judge. Several minutes passed, but the crew upstairs obviously felt there was inconclusive evidence on the play and the ruling on the ice stood. For the fifth time, Anaheim had taken the lead.
San Jose came ever so close to goal number five with six and a half minutes left. Marleau perfectly fed Scott Hannan heading into the offensive zone. The World Cup defenseman was alone, but a Ducks blueliner was closing. Hannan ripped off shot, but it rang off the post and Anaheim clung to the lead.
San Jose pulled Nabokov in the final minute and have a power play when Scott Thornton was tripped up, but they couldn’t find the tying goal and Anaheim would wrap up the 5-4 win and end the Sharks winning streak at six.
The game marked the second consecutive contest that Ron Wilson coached against a previous coaching stop.
Scott Thornton-Joe Thornton-Cheechoo
The Sharks will face Anaheim again Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. Tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.com or at the HP Pavilion Box Office. The contest will be carried on FSN Bay Area (on High Definition) and on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.