By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE– Saturday, the San Jose Sharks won their home opener 2-0 against the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks’ best period of the game was their third, and it was a relentless one. It seemed to be just the kind of game head coach Pete DeBoer was looking for from the Sharks:
That’s how we want to play with the lead. You want to keep your foot on the gas. We kept rolling four lines to keep our energy and our legs. The best defense for me in that situation is spending the period in the other team’s end and I think we did a good job of that.
After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski also talked about that third period push:
We kind of got better as the game went on, right from the start. The second was a little better and the third was definitely our best and it needs to be. I’d say last year that was one of the problems in this rink, we didn’t have strong thirds. So hopefully we can continue with that trend.
Joel Ward was asked about the developing chemistry between himself and his linemates, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau:
When you get a chance to play with guys like Cootch and Marleau, it makes it a lot more fun, how dynamic they are and how skilled, what they can create on their own is pretty cool to watch. So, as you can see what Patty did tonight was a good example of that. Just try to get in the open areas and I just try to feed off them and know what they want from me, just communicating as best we can, it’s just going to continue to build.
Ward seemed to be communicating quite well with his linemates on Saturday, turning up in the right spot again and again, on both ends of the ice.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has also made an excellent impression in this two game sample. Martin Jones, after his second game and second win as a Shark, praised the team in front of him:
I thought we did a really good job. I mean, that’s a big, strong team up front and typically they do a really good job, getting in front of the net with bodies and with sticks. I thought we did a really good job boxing out and I was able to see a lot of pucks tonight.
As second games of the season go, this one was impressive: two goals from Patrick Marleau, two points for Joel Ward, and a second win from Martin Jones. The game even had two 31s in net, one at each end. Jones and Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen both wear 31.
With nine minutes left in the first, the shots were 7-3 Anaheim. Sharks had killed one penalty, but had had no power plays. They did, however, have a very good spell right about then, lasting almost three minutes and shifts for as many lines. The third line started it, with some aggressive play in the Ducks’ zone. The top line followed it up and the Sharks seemed to be on a roll and likely to score. When they finally had to defend again, Martin Jones was there to stop the Ducks. The game remained scoreless, but by the end of that little sprint, the shots were almost even, 9-8 Ducks. By the end of the period, the Sharks had a solid 13-9 lead in shots.
They were right back at it to start the second period, spending most of the first two minutes in the Ducks’ zone. After that, however, the Ducks pinned the Sharks for a solid couple of minutes. A breakaway from the third line broke up the Ducks’ momentum and ended with a discussion by the Ducks’ net. The second line picked up where the third left off, and added three shots to the Sharks’ tally in the space of a few seconds. By now, the Ducks were getting a little incensed.
By the middle of the second period, the game was clearly a goaltender battle. Both 31s were snuffing out scoring chances wherever they cropped up. Admittedly, they were few but that was partly due to quick reactions from the goalies.
The other limiting factor for those scoring chances was timing. A couple of shots fell flat for lack of follow-up and bodies in the right places. It was a reminder that this was only the Sharks’ second game of the season.
The game took on a delayed back and forth tempo, with each team trapping the other for a long shift before going the other way. The Ducks seemed to have the edge at the end of the period, catching up in shots and holding the zone just a little longer than the Sharks could.
The period was winding down to a scoreless close, but the Sharks’ second line had other plans. Joel Ward and Logan Couture chased the puck into the corner and kept after it. The announcer had just made the “one minute left” call when Ward got the puck to the net. Couture caught up with it on the other side and took a shot. Just then, Marleau followed up to take the third and fourth shots. He gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with the fourth one. Assists went to Couture and Ward.
The Sharks ended the second period up by one goal and three shots, 27-24.
In the middle of the third period, the fourth line of Barclay Goodrow, Chris Tierney and Mike Brown had a very good shift, holding the zone with tenacity, getting a couple of shots in, and maintaining their composure when the Ducks finally got the puck out. They finished by slowing Anaheim down enough in the neutral zone for the defense to get organized for a line change.
Around the 13 minute mark, the fourth line held the zone again with aplomb, aided by Tomas Hertl Hertl, who had missed his line change. Eventually, he did manage to switch with Tierney, without the Ducks ever gaining control of the puck. It was an impressive shift by the fourth line and the top defensive pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.
With almost six minutes left, the Sharks had taken twelve shots during the period. The Ducks had taken three.
Shortly after the next faceoff, Marleau scored his second of the game on the team’s 40th shot. It was a lovely wraparound after he carried the puck across the blue line and through the o-zone against two Ducks. The lone assist went to Joel Ward, who apparently made the pass while also playing it safe:
I knew he can do that so I just kind of “here, you take it, you go.” I came back to the bench… I knew we were in our zone a little bit and I just kind of tried to play it safe, I didn’t want to get caught up the ice. Next thing you know hands are up in the air and I was looking for water.
The Sharks got their first power play with 3:07 left in the game. The penalty went to Mike Santorelli for hooking Barclay Goodrow. They did not score but the power play prevented Anaheim from pulling their goalie or coming back in the last minutes.
The final shot count was 44-27 Sharks.
Patrick Marleau led the Sharks in shots with seven. Mike Brown led in hits with eight. Brent Burns had the most time on ice with 24:43. Martin Jones made 27 saves for the shutout.
Frederick Andersen made 42 saves for the Ducks, no small feat. That earned him the third star of the game. The first star was Marleau and the second was Martin Jones.
Jakob Silfverberg led the Ducks in shots with four, and Andrew Cogliano made the most hits for them: four.
The Sharks will hit the road and play Tuesday in Washington against Ward’s old team, the Capitals. The game will start at 4pm PT.