Ducks win Pacific; Sharks will face Kings

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.

Two Milestone Goals Lift Sharks Over Ducks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE- In a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, one Shark scored his first NHL goal, another scored his 100th, and the Sharks-Ducks home ice advantage grew a little more. In seven of the last eight games between the two, the win has gone to the home team. The Sharks’ win was tarnished, however, by an injury to Tommy Wingels. Wingels left the game in the first period and did not return.

Logan Couture’s recent trouble scoring goals might be explained in hindsight by the fact that it was his 100th he was trying to score. Such a milestone is bound to play a little hard to get. Bracken Kearns was chasing his first, though he hadn’t had may chances to score it. The audience at SAP Center was suitably appreciative of the occasion, and continued to respond enthusiastically every time Kearns turned up on the video screen.

The Sharks’ best line of late tore into the Ducks defense early, pelting Andersen with shots and staying just a step ahead of the Ducks defenders. Andersen did well to stop as many as he did but finally Brent Burns put one past him from just a few feet in front of the blue paint. The first goal of the game was scored just over a minute in. Assists went to Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.

Pavelski was called for interference at 6:48. The second penalty killing unit to get on the ice included Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton, Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The unit set up a good short-handed chance for Thornton and Desjardins, who made their way into the Ducks’ zone two on one and managed a couple of shots on Anderson, even after the Ducks’ defense caught up with them.

Logan Couture got off the schneid with panache, carrying the puck through the neutral zone, skating around two Ducks defenders and stick-handling his way to the net to score his 100th career goal with a backhand. The goal put the Sharks up 2-0, at 10:07 of the period. Assists went to Brent Burns and Jason Demers.

With a little over five minutes left in the first, the Ducks had a series of good chances in the Sharks’ zone, while the Sharks were caught mid-line change and unable to get the puck out. Finally Niemi was able to glove it. Kearns, Brown and Kennedy took the ice for the defensive zone draw with Stuart and Demers on defense. Kearns won the faceoff and got the puck back to Demerws but Demers couldn’t clear it the first time. They had to try again. The third line managed to move play into the Ducks’ zone, where the Couture line took over, but the Ducks quickly drove them into the neutral zone.

Todd McLellan moved Matt Nieto to the second line when Tommy Wingels went awkwardly into the boards early in the first. Wingels appeared for another shift but then went to the dressing room and would not return to the game.

First period ended 2-0 Sharks, with shots on goal at 14-13 Anaheim.

Almost ten minutes elapsed in the second, including the end of a San Jose power play to start the period, when Andrew Desjardins carried the puck behind the Ducks’ net. Under pressure he managed to pass the puck out in front where the late-arriving Bracken Kearns picked it up in the slot and scored his first NHL goal. Assists went to Desjardins and Mike Brown.

With 7:50 left in the second, Daniel Winnik was caught in the face with the butt end of a Shark’s stick. He stayed down for some time and got up with blood near his eye but no penalty was called. Logan Couture represented the Sharks in a brief conference with the referee at center ice. It did appear to be incidental contact, but Winnik and the Ducks were understandably agitated about it.

The second period ended with the Ducks still ahead on the shot clock, 24-19, but the Sharks ahead 3-0 on the score board.

The Sharks got their second power play of the game at 8:47 of the third period when Corey Perry went to the box for a high hit on Brad Stuart. The Sharks’ power play didn’t pay off and a successful penalty kill energized the Ducks. It still took them a few shifts to score.

Antti Niemi’s shut-out bid ended at 11:32 of the third, when a quick pass from behind the Sharks’ net found Patrick Maroon with no one in front of him. A shot just indside the far post brought the score to 3-1. Assists went to Corey Perry and Cam Fowler.

The game ended without any further scoring and the Sharks won 3-1. The final shot count had the Ducks still on top with 31 to the Sharks’ 23.

The Ducks’ shots leaders for the game were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Kyle Pamieri, credited with three each. For the Sharks, Brent Burns led the team with 5 shots. Mike Brown led the Sharks in hits with five, followed by Kearns with four. Mark Fistric and Patrick Maroon led the Ducks with five hits each.

The three stars of the game were Brent Burns, Antti Niemi, and Bracken Kearns.