Anaheim Ducks Outlast Sloppy Sharks

When does Joe Thornton get back again?  Thursday?…thank heavens.

After throttling the Tampa Bay Stamkos‘s by a score of 5-2 in their first effort without the talents of the suspended Jumbo, the Sharks played like a team sorely lacking his stout leadership presence on the ice last night.

The game started off decent, with a great centering pass by a triple-teamed Ryane Clowe to a one-timing Torrey Mitchell right in front of Anaheim Ducks‘ net.  Mitchell pumped it home, the San Jose Sharks were on the board, and it seemed to be the start of another HP Pavilion-crowd-fueled command performance versus a tough rival.

Even the fight on the ensuing faceoff between the Ducks’ Ivy-league brawler, George Parros and Frazer McLaren following that first tally didn’t seem to spark the Ducks.  McLaren hung in great with one the NHL’s true heavyweights, rebounded after a slow start with some great shots to the side of Parros’ head and the bout was called a draw.

Quick aside, but I absolutely love when you have a fight like last night, and both men tap each other in courteous acknowledgement before heading off to the penalty box.  It is a sign of true gladiators who know their role, and respect the guy across from them in the same position and is a far cry from the theatrics of the NFL, NBA or MLB tussles.  Parros and McLaren scrapped and battled, and when the linesmen came in to separate, they broke like a couple of professionals.

Just two heavyweight boxers responding to referee’s break instruction.

No post-fight jaw-boning or gestures, just a couple inconspicuous taps of respect by each man to each other.  So old school and classy, and you wouldn’t be at all surprised to find those guys grabbing pints and showing their scars to each other at the Brittania Arms post-game.

Regrettably for the Ducks, the fight seemed to motivate the wrong team when Dany Heatley executed an amazing hand-eye move by knocking a puck out of mid-air and then banging it home for a Sharks 2-0 lead.  Unfortunately, in a tough call, the puck was deemed knocked down by a Heatley high-stick, and the goal was waived off.

Moments later, the Ducks almost immediately seized upon that officiating body blow, when winger Jason Blake executed his own dazzling hand-eye feat, deflecting a Toni Lydman blast from the left point past Sharks’ netminder, Antero Niittymaki.

The game was now knotted at one goal apiece and the momentum was back into play.

Following a Saku Koivu hooking penalty, the Sharks unleashed a top-five candidate for ugliest power play of the young season.  It was just a brutal cacophony of giveaways, short-armed passing and a total and futile inability to set it up the play.

Certainly no expert, but I would imaging the boys are looking at the video right this second while Coach Todd McLellan stalks around the room trying not to smack anyone.

The second period was at stalemate until bleepin’ Corey Perry smacked a nice backhand past Niittymaki during a bouncing puck scramble in front of the net and the Ducks were up 2-1, which is where we stood at the end of the period.

The Sharks charged out in the third period, and finally broke through with a wrister by Devin Setoguchi at the 9:05 mark.  It was Seto’s first goal since President Obama was elected.

Correction, it appears that it just seemed like that.  In any event, I’m just happy that “G” and “Setoguchi” are now again associated together…and an equalizer to boot!

That goal proved the final one of regulation, and the final one that the Sharks would register as Lubomir Visnovsky ended the game in OT on a slap shot blast at the 4:27 mark of the extra period.

To point out that the Sharks outshot the Ducks two-to-one is almost a cliché.  They seem to always relentlessly pepper Jonas Hiller, and Hiller looked like his old self last night turning almost everything away.  The larger concern were the brutal giveaways, with the Sharks flaking 16 times.  Each one seemed to happen during a key moment in the mounting rush, and each one seemed to squash an offensive opportunity or lead to one for the Ducks the other way.

It was a sloppily played, frustrating affair to watch and Coach McLellan looked like he was about to eat his Poppy Campaign lapel flower at least five different times last night.

Anytime, you’re ready Jumbo…the next faceoff is yours.

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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Antero Niittymaki, Brittania Arms, Corey Perry, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Frazer McLaren, George Parros, HP Pavilion, Jason Blake, Joe Thornton, Jonas Hiller, Lubomir Visnovsky, Poppy Campaign, Saku Koivu, San Jose Sharks, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Todd Mclellan, Toni Lydman, Torrey Mitchell

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