(photo: Dinur Blum)
The Pacific Division first-place Anaheim Ducks faced the second-place San Jose Sharks at the Pond Monday night for their third matchup of the season in what was expected to be a fierce, physical game. Two hot goaltenders would make this a close game: the Sharks’ Antti Niemi was on a 7-game winning streak and Frederik Andersen had won 8 of his last 10 games heading into this one.
In their last meeting back in November, each team had 8 penalties, so as anticipated, this game started off with a fight before a goal was even scored. Tye McGinn and Clayton Stoner each got fighting majors a little over halfway into the first period. And, just like the Sharks’ last game versus the St. Louis Blues, there was no scoring in the first frame. However, there was an abundance of shots on goal with 15 for the Sharks to the Ducks’ 7 shots. One of those Ducks’ shots came on a short-handed chance by Jakob Silfverberg when the Sharks ended the period on a shot-less power play.
The Sharks knew they would have to step up their game against this Anaheim team and they put on some pressure to start the second. But as it turned out, the Ducks scored first, a backhander by Rickard Rakell. Then a shot to the face by John Scott sent Tim Jackman down to the ice where he stayed for a few moments motionless, seemingly out cold. As of now, the hit is still being reviewed by the Department of Player Safety.
An interference call on Andrew Desjardins to Andersen put the Ducks on a man-advantage, allowing Ryan Kesler, who had 5 total shots on the night (3 of those on power plays), to shoot a bomb on Niemi, who saved it. The Sharks rounded out the second period with 2 looks by rookie sensation Barclay Goodrow, right after Desjardins exited the box.
A hooking call on Stoner a minute and a half into the third period put the Sharks on their third power play of the night. Excellent puck placement by Brent Burns to Joe Pavelski, who tipped it past Andersen, would tie the game. After reviewing that shot by Burns on the slow-motion replay, one could really see the power behind that shot had by the bend in the stick.
Then, another Shark gets his first NHL goal – Melker Karlsson netted a slapshot from Goodrow at 7:56. This was a huge go-ahead goal – plus it was interesting to note that those two guys were not on the roster at the beginning of the year, yet they are contributing and clearly showing they deserve to be here at the NHL level.
(photo: Dinur Blum)
On the other end of the ice, the Ducks kept putting on the pressure, but Niemi had been stellar. He saved a total of 10 shots in the second. By Karlsson’s goal, the Sharks only had 4 shots on goal that period, and two of those shots went in.
With about four minutes left in the game, the Ducks tied it and ended the game on the power play, putting even more pressure on. A stickless Tommy Wingels tried to clear the puck with his skate and then Kesler shot one at Niemi again, who caught it like a baseball catcher, moving all the way across the net.
The power play flowed over into overtime for one minute in a 4-on-3 situation. Right at the end of that minute, finally Kesler gets Niemi’s number, blasting one to win the game.
Overall, this game was not as aggressive as their games in the past, besides the fighting majors in the first and the questionable hit on Jackman. But it set the tone for how tough the Sharks’ opponents will be in the schedule ahead. While they manage to get out of this one with only one point, they face the Los Angeles Kings after the Christmas holiday – another division rival battle.