It was unlikely to happen anyway, but tonight made it official.
With the San Jose Sharks losing to the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on the road on Wednesday night, the Ducks clinched the Pacific Division title, and the Sharks will have to settle for second and a first round matchup with the Kings.
The Ducks looked and played like the better team against the Sharks, and it didn’t help that Antti Niemi let in a couple of soft goals. The first came with just seconds left in the first period. The Sharks had taken a 1-0 lead on a Jason Demers goal, but in the final seconds, Corey Perry shielded off Justin Braun and dove to the net, poking the puck past Niemi’s five-hole to the tie the game.
That last-second goal might have demoralized the Sharks and energized the Ducks, as Anaheim caught fire in the second period. Patrick Maroon scored twice in the period, the latter goal giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead and forcing Niemi out of the game in favor of backup Alex Stalock. Stalock promptly allowed a goal to Matt Beleskey, who made a beautiful toe drag to avoid the sprawling Brent Burns. Burns had snapped his stick taking a shot earlier in the shift, and was caught in the worse possible position going back on defense.
Down two goals, the Sharks pressed the issue in the third, outshooting the Ducks 15-7, but the Ducks’ young goaltender John Gibson played well in just his second career NHL start. He made 36 saves, and outplayed his counterpart in Niemi on this night.
So we get the matchup that hockey fans love, but Sharks fans probably hate. Playing the Kings will undoubtedly be a tough, physical series, and whoever wins will surely not come out unscathed. San Jose’s season ended last season at the hands of the Kings when it lost in Game 7 of the second round to Los Angeles.
Tale of the Tape
- Shots on goal: 38
- Power play: 0-for-5
- Hits: 25
- Giveaways: 9
- Takeaways: 4
- Faceoffs won: 33
- Shots on goal: 30
- Power play: 0-for-3
- Hits: 33
- Giveaways: 9
- Takeaways: 3
- Faceoffs won: 34
Good to Know
Teemu Selanne had 2 assists. He finished his reg. season career with 99 points in 92 games against the Sharks, the most by any SJ opponent.
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) April 10, 2014
What’s on Tap
These final two games won’t matter to the Sharks, who should be fine tuning for the postseason. They take on the Avalanche on Friday.