San Jose Sharks center Ryan Donato (16) jumps to get out of the way of Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) in the second period at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Mon Apr 12, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Matthew Harrington
After mostly keeping the band together after Monday’s trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks missed out on a prime opportunity to move closer to the final playoff spot in the West Division Monday night. Team Teal fell to the visiting Anaheim Ducks 4-0 after seeing that the Coyotes (ahead of San Jose by two points) fell to the Avalanche early in the night. Ducks third-string netminder Anthony Stolarz made 44 saves, Max Comtois had two points and Alexander Volkov scored a pair of goals in the penultimate contest between the California rivals.
The Ducks (first goal came after Radim Simek failed to clear the puck out of the Sharks end and partner Christian Jaros likewise failed to advance the puck. After sustained offensive pressure, Comtois was able to redirect a shot-pass from Derek Grant just 1:59 into the first period.
Alexander Volkov then took advantage of slow reactions by Tomas Hertl who had the puck in his own end facing Martin Jones in net. Volkov hit Hertl’s stick, forcing the puck on net and past Jones for his first goal of the game 8:12 into the first. Volkov added his second of the period 12:19 into the period for a 3-0 lead.
Rickard Rakell, a player identified as a prime trade target heading into Monday’s trade dealine, wound up staying put with the Ducks. He rewarded his team’s inactivity by capping off the win with 3:26 off the clock in the third period.
“Even at 3-0 we knew that they played last night,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “We felt in the second period that we were grinding them down, they were starting to turn pucks over. We were getting a lot of offense off that.”
“We thought this game was far from over,” added Boughner. “We couldn’t solve Stolarz and that fourth goal probably capped it off.”
Whether the Ducks had scored one goal or 100 wouldn’t have mattered with how Anthony Stolarz performed in net. The Ducks tender turned away 44 Sharks shots, a career high for the 27-year-old net minder. He came one save away from matching the Ducks franchise record for saves in a shutout in just his 30th career NHL game dating back to 2017.
The Sharks offense turned it on after a dismal first period that saw them outscored 3-0 despite outshooting Anaheim 14-13. They held the Ducks to just six shots on goal over the final two periods, but couldn’t crack Stolarz on 32 shots in the final pair of periods.
“I think it’s our job as a staff to get in there and address the situation,” said Boughner after his team’s third loss in four games. “To make the proper changes and adjustments. To show them the things we did well, but to continue to harp and teach on the things we didn’t do well.”
“It’s a funny game,” said Bougner. “Last week we were on top of the world and all the sudden you hit a couple games like this and you start gripping the stick tight. Maybe over thinking things. We need to get back to our structure.”
The Sharks get a chance to rebound against the Ducks (and presumably not Stolarz in net unless Ducks coach Dallas Eakins chooses to ride the hot hand) Wednesday night at San Jose. Boughner didn’t have an update on Tomas Hertl after the game, he headed to the dressing room late in the third period with an injury. There will surely be more on him in the coming days.