(photos: Dinur Blum)

Hockey at its best: A contest between two California division rivals. The San Jose Sharks delivered a stellar performance last night in Anaheim against the Ducks. Tanking to the Buffalo Sabres the day before on Saturday, the Sharks knew they had to win. The club went from losing to the second-worst team in the league, to defeating the best team in the Pacific Division, and 2nd place overall, the Anaheim Ducks. Coming into this game, and for comparison on this monumental early-season win, Anaheim had won 7 in a row, while the Sharks had lost 4 in a row.

Right from the start, the heat between these two teams was apparent with a scrum between San Jose’s big John Scott and  Ducks Tim Jackman, resulting in a 5-minute major for each. Scott would eventually suffer three more penalties at the same time in the third period – instigating, fighting (major), and game misconduct. As of October 27, he has been suspended two games for leaving the bench on a legal line change to start an altercation.

There were a total of 37 penalties afforded – 18 for the Sharks and 19 for the Ducks. The majority of those penalties assessed were some kind of fighting offenses, whether it be for fighting (maj), unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing, instigating, or misconduct calls. If anything, that should demonstrate the kind of intense rivalry these two teams have for each other.

Early on in the period already with 5 shots on goal to Anaheim’s zero shots, showed just how badly the Sharks knew they had to win. But another big story of the night was all about Brent Burns, who scored his 100th career goal on the Sharks’ sixth shot of the game. Newly moved back to his original defense position, he is having an offensive impact, starting off both weekend games with a goal.

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And, vastly improving on their power play performance (up 12% from only 10 days ago to 25%), Joe Pavelski nets one on the man advantage, helping the Sharks to continue their lead, making it 2-0 late in the first.

The shot clock evened out by the second, with a healthy 15 shots for the Sharks and 11 shots for the Ducks. At about the halfway mark of the game, Marc-Edouard Vlasic made a pretty five-hole goal through Frederik Andersen. Even though the Sharks were up 3 goals, high energy and scoring opportunities continued, which is what the Sharks needed to demonstrate in order to win. And then along came Tommy Wingels, with an impressive 10 shots on the night, giving the Sharks a 4-0 lead almost halfway into the third period, and on a power play to boot, further improving their ranking.

Antti Niemi stopped 33 of 34 shots against the Ducks, that sole goal by Matt Beleskey, from newly acquired Ryan Kesler.

Besides the much-needed win after that dreadful 4-game losing streak, there were myriad positives for the Sharks in this matchup. Sure, division rival games are always entertaining to watch, but certain individuals really shined. Contributions from Burns and Wingels, plus the many scuffles during the game, showed grit, determination, and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. If the Sharks can keep up that kind of work ethic, they will be unstoppable.

Born and raised on the beach in the Bay Area, Cassie grew up watching football and rooting for the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn't until college that she discovered the wonderful sport of hockey, and over the past decade she hasn't loved another sport as much. When she's not busy coordinating her schedule around the San Jose Sharks' game schedule, she enjoys her job as an editor, stays connected to her favorite place, Hawaii, by dancing the hula, loves reading, writing, cats, and long walks on the beach, and is a strong advocate for the dying Oxford comma.

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