Simply Not Their Night- The Anaheim Ducks this season have not lost a game in regulation at the Honda Center. Tuesday night the Sharks got a first hand look at why that is. Pouncing on turnovers and just being faster the puck for most of the evening, the Ducks simply took it to the Sharks in a 6-3 rout to earn a split of the home and home series between the two teams. The Sharks may have had clues early on of how the evening would go as they trailed by a goal after the first period despite outshooting the Ducks 17-8 and missing out on a power play goal as the period ran out on them. Anaheim took over the game in the second period outshooting the Sharks 25-8 and never looking back afterward. Up until this game the Sharks have not surrendered six goals in a game to any opponent, holding these same Ducks to one goal two nights earlier. However the Ducks even with the early New Years Eve start came to play and from the second period on completely dominated the Sharks and ended up winning this game somewhat handily and to be honest fairly easily. Antti Niemi did not have a good night being pulled after the Ducks scored their fifth goal of the game early in the third period. The was just one of those games Team Teal has try to learn something from before quickly forgetting about as they return home Thursday Night to take on Edmonton. The loss also ends the Sharks four game winning streak.
The Hard Luck First- The Sharks came out fairly strong in the first period and were able to get plenty of rubber on net giving Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller all he can handle. The Sharks at one juncture were outshooting the Ducks 14-3 and did everything a team can do to dominate a period except for on the scoreboard as Hiller was just equally as determined as were his opponents. The Sharks would eventually fall behind 1-0 thanks to a defensive zone turnover that led directly to a goal from the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri who was able to get a tip in past Niemi of a shot from Matt Beleskey. The Sharks would get a late power play opportunity late in the period when Corey Perry was called for a slashing penalty against Joe Thornton. As time expired Patrick Marleau had what appeared to be a game tying goal, however the puck went into the net just a split second after time had expired and the goal was nullified after a review.
Ducks Just Dominated- The second period for the Sharks actually got of to a good start as Dan Boyle would get the Sharks the power play goal they had lost just 35 seconds into the second period to tie the game at 1-1. From this point on, the game and the all the momentum would shift in favor of the Ducks. Over the next five minutes of play the Ducks would outshoot the Sharks 9-1 and it would get to the point to where the play was almost exclusively in the Sharks defensive zone as Team Teal could barely even get a clear let alone even get close to the puck itself. The Ducks were launching so many shots at Niemi that he was the only Shark to touch the puck for a fairly long sequence. Niemi did is best to keep the game tied and for a while was the only reason the Sharks were even still in the game at all. Moments later the Ducks in complete control of the puck in the Sharks zone put 10 consecutive shots on goal, with at least four instances where a Ducks player would be skating up to Niemi unchallenged and put a close range shot on Niemi. On the tenth straight Ducks shot Francois Beauchemin drilled the puck past Niemi who tried to make a pad save but could not. The Sharks moments later would get a game tying goal on a four on four sequence as Logan Couture stuffed a puck past Hiller to tie the game. However the Sharks would soon start showing signs of being worn out and never could seize the momentum. The Ducks regained the lead on a power play goal two and a half minutes later after James Sheppard was sent to the penalty box for a high sticking goal. The Ducks needed just 58 seconds of the two-minute man advantage as Nick Bonino scored a power play goal to give Anaheim a 3-2 lead. Beleskey would add to the Ducks lead three and half minutes later as he was able to beat Niemi via the five hole.
The final period simply would get no better for the Sharks as the Ducks scored twice in the first 2:25 of the period on goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Cogliano. To add insult to injury Cogliano’s goal was a short-handed goal where the Ducks had a three on none breakaway where Alex Stalock in relief of Niemi simply had no chance. Bracken Kearns later answered with a power play goal before the Sharks man advantage had ended to get the Sharks back to within three. Team teal however could get no closer as the Ducks defense frustrated the Sharks over the final 15 minutes of the game. By the time the final horn sounded, the Sharks clearly could not get to John Wayne Airport fast enough to head home and try to leave this one behind in Orange County.
A Fair Post Game Assessment- Sharks Radio Color Analyst Jamie Baker probably had the best spins on this game by just calling it what it was. “Tonight was the Ducks night, just tip your cap to them….The Anaheim Ducks are a very good team.” Baker also noted that the Sharks “…are in the mix” of the teams such as Anaheim, Los Angeles, Chicago and Vancouver but also warned that the next road trip the Sharks take (starting Saturday) in Colorado, Chicago and Nashville will be difficult. Logan Couture speaking to the media afterward stated : “We have to remember what we did wrong, move on and get ready for the next game.”*
Worthy of Mention- Tuesday (December 31st) was Sharks Radio Broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky’s birthday. Rusanowsky has been with the Sharks for many years and giving those who are unable to watch the game the next best seat in the house with his remarkable descriptions and accounts of the game as only he can. Here’s to many more years of Dan Rusanowsky behind the microphone as not only the Sharks radio play-by-play announcers, but also one of the best play-by-play commentators in all professional sports.
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks will open the 2014 portion of this season’s schedule with a home date against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night (Jan. 2nd). The puck drops at 7:30pm (PT). The game can be seen in Northern California on CSN and heard on the Sharks Radio Network.
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*Source: SJ Sharks Twitter