Photo Credit: (USATSI)
By Pearl Allison Lo
ANAHEIM– The end of San Jose’s biggest game of the regular season equaled the Ducks’ second straight Pacific Division title, as the home team won for the last time this regular season series, 5-2 Wednesday.
The Sharks now know they will face a familiar Southern California foe in the playoffs, Los Angeles, for the second year in the row as well.
San Jose will have Joe Thornton, which was questionable as he crumbled near the end of the game. Afterwards, what happened was described as a “stinger,” as Coach Todd McLellan said “(Thornton) got hit up in the chest area.”
The game-winner was Patrick Maroon’s first career multi-goal game at 9:35 of the second and brought in goalie Alex Stalock. Teemu Selanne got his second assist and Hampus Lindholm chipped in on the attack. The Ducks never looked back afterwards. Rookie goalie John Gibson won his second game in a row and stopped 36 shots.
The team’s first power play opportunities came almost simultaneously. 15 seconds after the interference penalty to San Jose’s Brent Burns ended, Anaheim was called for too many men on the ice.
Gibson was able to fight off shots by Jason Demers earlier, but Demers broke through at 18:17 of the first, to score the game’s first goal. Joe Pavelski aided on the goal.
The Ducks’ Corey Perry, however, went stick to stick with Justin Braun and tied the game with three seconds left in the first period. Matt Beleskey and Francois Beauchemin got the assists.
Three individual mini fights broke out to cap the end of the first period and led to a Sharks’ power play to start the second period.
Anaheim got their first lead when Selanne passed the puck to Maroon. Maroon then went around the net chased to make the game 2-1 at 3:32 of the second.
17 seconds after San Jose killed their second penalty, Logan Couture re-tied the game at two at 7:23.
The Sharks’ goalie change didn’t halt the Ducks, as they moved further ahead when Beleskey got Perry’s rebound off Stalock. It was the game’s first two-goal margin at 16:46. Ryan Getzlaf had the second assist.
Beleskey then went in the box with 24.8 seconds left and San Jose started the third period on the power play again.
Demers ran into Stalock who fell backwards and hit the goalpost. After he was down and later came back up again, Stalock was called for delay of game for the puck going beyond the glass at 12:35.
It looked like a 6 on 4 with 2:44 left, but Gibson came back and Jakob Silfverberg scored a shorthanded empty net goal at 18:22. Andrew Cogliano got his 20th assist.
Both teams were coming off 3-0 games as Anaheim killed all five of the Sharks’ power plays.
Game notes: The Sharks’ Bracken Kearns played after returning from Worcester Tuesday. Before the game, it was announced that the Ducks’ Luca Sbisa would not play because of an upper body injury. San Jose’s Marty Havlat and Raffi Torres were also ruled out. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler returned from his mid-March knee injury. The Sharks’ second to last regular season game will be Friday at 7p versus the Colorado Avalanche.