San Jose and Anaheim renewed their rivalry for the first time this season and it was the Ducks conquering the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout.
Evgeni Nabokov took his usual spot in the crease and Douglass Murray was activated from the injured reserve list for the night. Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson dressed seven defensemen on the night.
Hard work by Mike Grier drew two early first period penalties and the second power play saw Team Teal started to flex their offensive muscle. They could not draw first blood, but both Steve Bernier and Jonathan Cheechoo were denied only due to excellent saves by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
When play returned to even strength, San Jose was able to cash in. Skating down the left wing, Grier got the puck past a defender to a driving Torrey Mitchell
. As soon as the puck touched his blade, Mitchell redirected over the shoulder of the down Giguere for the 1-0 lead. It was the first goal for the rookie center.
“I saw he had a step on his defenseman, so I tried to get on the offensive side of my man,” said Mitchell. “I just tipped it. It was a smart play on his part and an easy play for me.”
The Ducks committed a third consecutive penalty with less that four minutes remaining in the first, but San Jose could not convert and the lead remained one through 20 minutes.
Anaheim started the second period with two minutes of extended pressure, but Nabokov handled a barrage of shots to hold the Ducks at bay.
Milan Michalek had nice move where he snuck in behind the lone defenseman chasing a loose puck and was then alone on Giguere, but the Ducks netminder made the stop.
With 7:30 left in the middle period, Anaheim tied the contest. An initial shot that bounced off the rear boards went directly to Corey Perry, who was stopped by Nabokov. However, Ryan Getzlaf was there for the loose change and evened the score.
A late Ducks penalty would allow the Sharks to retake the lead in the back-and-forth battle. While on the power play, Joe Thornton
fired it from near the hashmarks, and with Michalek setting out front, found San Jose’s second goal.
Just like the first intermission, the Sharks would lead by one at the break.
In the third, San Jose had an early power play chance to try and create some breathing room, but the Ducks penalty killers kept the lead at one.
Just six minutes into the third, Andy McDonald skated in from the right side and perfectly laced a shot to the far post on Nabokov. The game was tied at two with 14 minutes left in regulation.
Both goalies made stellar plays with less than eight left in the third. First, Giguere stopped Cheechoo in close and then Nabokov turned away Rob Niedermayer in alone, basically playing the angles until the Ducks forward had no legitimate shooting line.
With less than a minute left in regulation, an Anaheim point shot went off Michalek in the high slot and Nabokov was forced to dive on the puck to force overtime.
The five-minute overtime was an up-and-down affair, but it decided as little as the first 60 minutes and the Sharks headed to their second shootout of the season.
In the shootout, neither Joe Pavelski
nor Cheechoo could score and Getzlaf and McDonald did for Anaheim in providing the host the extra point in the shootout victory.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson had a special guest in the building as his granddaughter was there celebrating her first birthday.
Mitchell was excited about his first tally, but would rather have had the victory.
“I’m happy about the goal, but it’s bittersweet with the loss,” said Mitchell. “My dad told me some friends just bought the NHL package, so maybe some saw it. I had about 10 text messages after the game.”
The healthy scratches on the night were Christian Ehrhoff, Curtis Brown and Patrick Rissmiller.
Team Teal will return to HP Pavilion Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. start with Phoenix. Limited tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com. The contest can be heard on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.