The San Jose Sharks won their 50th game of the season via a 3-2 shootout victory in Southern California against the Ducks, keeping their Pacific Division title hopes alive.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 37 of 39 Ducks shots and Scott Hannan and Steve Bernier each scored to rally the Sharks from two down. In the shootout, Jonathan and Cheechoo and Ryane Clowe
scored for Team Teal.
Nabokov started his fifth straight game in net for the Sharks and Ilya Bryzgalov made his first start in three games for the Ducks. Bryzgalov started in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere who was given the night off to celebrate the birth of his first son, Maxime Olivier.
The Sharks earned the first power play of the game when Ducks forward Teemu Selanne was called for hooking Christian Ehrhoff at the Sharks blueline at 3:37 of the first. On the ensuing man advantage, the Sharks managed a pair of shots on goal from the point, but Bryzgalov made the saves and the Anaheim defense cleared the rebounds.
After Selanne’s penalty expired, the game opened up as both teams played an effective transition game. It was the Ducks who struck first, however, as forward Andy McDonald made it a 1-0 game with 13:41 to play in the first. McDonald broke in alone and was hit with a tape-to-tape pass from Chris Kunitz, then beat Nabokov five-hole for the early lead.
Curtis Brown was whistled for tripping Scott Niedermayer behind the Ducks cage, sending Anaheim on their first power play of the game at 9:55 of the first. Strong penalty killing by Patrick Rissmiller and Marcel Goc up front helped the Sharks kill the advantage and keep it a 1-0 game.
But just 51 seconds after Brown’s penalty expired, the Ducks were sent right back on the power play. Captain Patrick Marleau
was called for interfering with Mark Hartigan while Mark Bell fired a shot on net, sending Anaheim on their second power play of the period.
With 45 seconds remaining in Marleau’s minor for interference, Scott Hannan made a gritty play and blocked a Chris Pronger blast from the point. As Hannan searched for the loose puck, Kunitz blatantly interfered with Hannan, knocking down the veteran defenseman to the ice. Kunitz was not whistled on the play, giving Scott Niedermayer time to swoop in and chip the puck past Nabokov and Hannan for the 2-0 lead.
The parade to the penalty box continued as the Sharks were whistled for their third consecutive penalty. With 5:24 remaining in the opening frame, Joe Thornton
was called for roughing Travis Moen and the Sharks would again have to kill an Anaheim power play. The Sharks escaped Thornton’s minor and began their comeback efforts, facing a daunting two-goal deficit.
With 2:00 remaining in the period, the Sharks looked poised to cut into the Anaheim lead. Strong work on the half-boards by Bill Guerin and a perfect pass by Marleau left Mark Bell alone in the slot with Bryzgalov. Bell snapped the puck past Bryzgalov but hit the crossbar. The puck deflected out of harms way and was in many ways indicative of the first period.
The Ducks fired 10 shots on net to the Sharks nine (and a post), but out-chanced San Jose en route to the 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The second period opened with both teams firing a handful of shots on net, but neither team earning a scoring chance.
With 14:52 to play in the second, Shawn Thornton took a run at and caught Marleau with a big check, prompting Ryane Clowe
to respond. Clowe challenged Thornton and the two dropped their gloves at center. Despite an obvious reach advantage by Thornton, Clowe landed a pair of right hands in the decision that leaned towards Thornton.
Clowe’s fight sparked the Sharks offense and just 2:49 after the bout, the Sharks got on the scoreboard. Mike Grier, at the end of his shift, knocked down two clearing attempts. The second attempt found its way to Marcel Goc’s stick who found Hannan at the point. Hannan’s blast from the point beat Bryzgalov and cut the Anaheim lead in half.
With 10:44 left in the second, the Sharks earned their second power play of the game when Rob Niedermayer hooked Kyle McLaren in the neutral zone. The Sharks threatened, but couldn’t find the equalizer as the game remained 2-1.
As Rob Niedermayer’s penalty expired, a stretch pass sprung him in one-on-one against rookie Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. Vlasic caught Niedermayer, who had a step on him, then swept the puck to the far corner in a textbook defensive play.
With 6:46 to go in the second, the Sharks had one of their best shifts of the game, set up by Thornton’s physicality. Thornton hit both defensemen on the shift, then beat two defenders in the corner before finding Jonathan Cheechoo in the slot. Cheechoo was robbed by Bryzgalov but the Sharks kept the pressure on.
On the very next shift, Bell’s physicality in the corners set up a point blank shot by Marleau. The puck crawled over Bryzgalov’s shoulder, but blueliner Francois Beauchemin cleared the puck from the crease before Guerin was able to jam it home.
With 4:18 to go in the period, San Jose’s third consecutive hard working shift paid dividends when Steve Bernier evened the game at 2-2. This time it was Goc who was in deep on the forecheck. Goc moved the puck out of the corner where it was pushed towards the crease by McLaren. Bernier gathered McLaren’s feed and buried the puck past Bryzgalov.
Coincidental penalties on Ehrhoff and Ducks forward Corey Perry closed out the second period as the Sharks rallied from two goals down to tie it 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.
With 15:12 to go, McDonald nearly scored his second of the game when he redirected a Selanne shot. Nabokov made the initial stop and then the save on the rebound chance before Hannan came to his goaltender’s aid and cleared the puck and his man.
An odd man rush and a brilliant feed by Joe Thornton
at 11:46 of the third found its way through to Cheechoo. But Bryzgalov made a big save sliding to his left.
Up and down action saw Chris Pronger take a run at Marleau, knocking his helmet off, followed shortly by responses by Bell and Cheechoo, knocking down Pronger. Both teams had solid scoring chances and played strong in their defensive zone as the game opened up with under 10 minutes to play.
With six remaining in regulation the Sharks desperately looked to find a way to win without allowing Anaheim one automatic point. Thornton set Cheechoo up twice late, but Bryzgalov was there to keep the contest even.
As regulation wound down, Selanne was sprung on a breakaway. Nabokov made a first and second save, but Rivet was whistled for hooking and the penalty would carry into overtime.
Ron Wilson pulled a rabbit out of the hat to even up the men on ice for the extra stanza. The Sharks bench boss asked for a stick measurement on Selanne that resulted in a two minute penalty to the Ducks, resulting in an extended three-on-three session. San Jose had a brief four-on-three, but could not convert.
When even strength play returned, Nabokov made a strong stop on a two-on-one led by Selanne as the action moved up and down the ice.
Both netminders stopped quality chances in the extra five minutes and would be forced decide the game in a shootout.
San Jose would only need two shooters as both Cheechoo and Clowe nailed their opportunities and the Ducks missed on two of three chances.
Clowe – Goc – Bernier
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Bell – Marleau – Guerin
Rissmiller – Brown – Grier
Hannan – Vlasic
Carle – Rivet
McLaren – Ehrhoff
Nabokov – Toskala
The Sharks return home on Thursday night to face the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion at San Jose. Game time is set for 7:30 PM and the contest will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.