Ducks Get Thumped, Dumped- Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and Brent Burns all scored goals in the first 9:20 of the opening period as the San Jose Sharks defeated their arch rival in the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 for the second time in three days. A full house at the Shark Tank witnessed Antti Niemi make 22 saves as he pitched team teal’s first shut out of the Ducks since 2009. The Sharks this week have exploded for nine goals in two games against Anaheim in sweeping a crucial two game home and home set. The Sharks have won two games in regulation for the first time in two months, having last done that against Colorado and Vancouver on January 26th and 27th. Tommy Wingles added a huge short handed goal in the third period as the Sharks defensively kept the suddenly slumping Ducks at bay, handing their Southern California rivals their fourth straight regulation loss overall.
The Sharks with the win improve their season mark to 15-11-6 for 36 points in the Western Conference Standings and hold on to the eight and final playoff spot. In the Pacific Division, Anaheim still holds a 12 point lead however the Sharks only trail the Los Angeles Kings by 3 points. Wednesday night’s game was the first of 11 home dates for team teal over the final 17 game stretch of this lockout shortened season. The Sharks have much more work ahead of them if they are going to make any post season plans whatsoever. However, if the Sharks can draw fire and energy from these last two games versus the Ducks, it could be a very interesting final month of the season. The Sharks will get tested on that soon enough as they will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings just 21 short hours upon the finish of this game.
Early Dominance- Just as they did Monday night, the Sharks again stormed out of the gates and wasted no time separating themselves from their arch rivals. With Ryane Clowe back into the line up after missing the last few games with a lower body injury, took the puck into the Ducks zone just inside the one minute mark. Clowe was knocked off of the puck by Anaheim’s Bryan Allen, the puck sailed over to TJ Galiardi who behind the net fed the rubber biscuit over to Pavelski. In turn Pavelski in possession of the puck wrapped it around the net and stuffed it past the surprised Ducks Goalie Jonas Hiller to give team teal a 1-0 lead at exactly the one minute mark of the opening period. Moments later with the Sharks keeping the pressure and momentum on the Ducks’ defensive side of the ice, Marleau beat Hiller with a 15 foot wrist shot after taking a feed pass from Logan Couture.
Moments after Marleau’s goal the Sharks again would force the Ducks to take drastic action on their end of of the ice. Sheldon Souray would draw a two minute holding penalty as he tried to prevent Wingles from advancing towards Hiller on a breakaway chance. What the Sharks could not get done thanks to the holding penalty on Souray, they would execute on the power play opportunity. Burns would again find himself in the right place at the right time as he drilled home a feed pass from Wingles who had taken possession of the puck near the Anaheim goal crease. Just nine minutes and twenty seconds had passed and the Sharks were already well in command against a stunned group of Anaheim Ducks. Head Coach of the Ducks Bruce Boudreau used his team time out here to try and get his group refocused.
Niemi meanwhile on the other side of the rink had the tough task of trying to keep one of the highest scoring offenses in the NHL at bay. Niemi would go on to make eight saves in the opening period. The Sharks were also able to kill off a tripping penalty to Joe Thornton despite having some early trouble clearing their defensive zone. Clowe and Allen during the period also got into an altercation where alternate captain took a TKO over the Anaheim defenseman.
More Frustration for Ducks- The second period saw the Sharks arch rivals pick up their pace as they played with more aggressiveness and determination. The Ducks did a lot of things to try and help their cause however were still not able to get the rubber biscuit past Niemi. The later half of the middle period saw much of the play in the Sharks defensive zone. What was most frustrating for the Ducks was the Sharks new found ability to step into both passing lanes and shooting lanes. One of the keys to the Sharks win was the blocked shots, and team teal had a total of 30 for the game. If any shots found their way around their defense, Niemi was ready to snag those pucks and keep them out of harms way. The Sharks had some opportunities of their own and missed on a couple of good opportunities as Marleau just missed Couture around the Ducks goal with a feed pass that had caught Hiller off balance. James Sheppard and Wingles both had scoring attempts near the Ducks net that were not cashed in as the puck sailed over the net on both occasions.
Being Closers- The final period would see the Ducks get a few more scoring chances however were not able to cash them in. The Sharks defense tightened up and allowed Anaheim very few decent scoring chances as they held their Southern California rival to just five shots on goal for the entire period. As the period would draw on, the Ducks started to look as frustrated as they were tired. With just over 13 minutes remaining in the final period, the Ducks had a power play opportunity when Marleau was called for closing his hand on the puck. The power play try would fail miserably as the Sharks were able to take control of the puck midway through Anaheim power play. Leading the breakaway, Couture spotted Wingles to his right and got a feed pass over to him. Wingles then drilled a wrister that beat Hiller top shelf for a huge short handed goal. Towards the end of the power play Niemi came up with a huge point blank shot by Bobby Ryan.
Late in the period Boyle and Corey Perry got into a huge scrap that lasted for several minutes. Perry, being frustrated by his teams’ uncharacteristic scoring drought mixed it up with Boyle who gave no ground and kept punching Perry even as the two fell to the ice before the game officials decided that was enough WWE for one night. For the Sharks they come up with another critical win and two points in the Western Conference Standings. Things do not get any easier for team teal as their siesta time will be very quick since the Detroit Red Wings are back in town Thursday evening.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were 3)Antti Niemi; 2) Dan Boyle, and 1) Tommy Wingles. The Sharks won three of the five games played between these two rivals this season, last season the Ducks took 5 of 6 including sweeping all three games at the Shark Tank. Niemi was the first Sharks goalie to post a shutout against the Ducks since Evgeni Nabakov (aka “Nabby”) on March 14th 2009 in Anaheim (Sharks won 1-0). This was the first game of the final 17 for the Sharks in the regular season. 11 of those 17 will be at the Shark Tank. Both teams power plays failed to score against each other this season until Burns goal in the first period. The Ducks power play was 0 for 15 against the Sharks, while team teal was just 1 for 19 against Anaheim.
Sharks Next Game- The Sharks have very little time to rest or enjoy this victory over their arch rivals as they get ready to welcome another perennial foe in the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings visit is the final game of a four game road trip. Detroit was at the Tank exactly one month ago (2/28) and beat the Sharks 2-1 in a game decided in a shootout. This is the second of three regular season meetings against the Sharks. Team teal will visit Detroit on April 11th. As for Thursday nights’ game at the Tank, the puck drop is 7:30pm PDT. The Sharks would not mind seeing another full house Thursday night. The game as always will be carried on CSN California, Centre Ice outside of Northern California and the Sharks Radio Network.
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