(photo: Dinur Blum)

The San Jose Sharks played their first game since the All-Star break against division rivals Anaheim Ducks at home Thursday night. Commenting earlier this week that his Sharks are a “middle-of-the-pack” team who play up or play down to their opponent, head coach Todd McLellan had to be happy with their performance in this one. Eleven different Sharks got a point, which helped to give San Jose a 4-0-1 record against Anaheim this season.The Sharks outshot the Ducks by 5 and outscored them by 3 to a 6-3 victory.

As expected, the game began with great pace and energy. The Ducks were on the board first early on at 4:57, a wrister by Andrew Cogliano. It was on the first power play of six on the night that the Sharks responded with a goal from none other than Joe Pavelski and his A-team line of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton with the assists. Things heated up with a fight between Francois Beauchemin and Andrew Desjardins at about the midway point in the first period, matching the pace and tone between these hot rivals.

It was all Sharks in the second period who scored 5 unanswered goals and set a new season record for most goals scored in a single period – the last record was 4 goals against Boston back in December. The first of the five was from Barclay Goodrow. He spent the All-Star break over in Worcester and it seemed time over in Massachusetts did him well. He got his sixth assist later on in the period on James Sheppard’s goal, making this game Goodrow’s second multi-point game this season. In fact, everyone on this line had something to contribute. Each player (Sheppard, Hertl, and Goodrow) notched 2 points for a total of 6 on the night. The other goals in this period from Matt Irwin, Marleau, and Brenden Dillon (a shorty), gave San Jose a healthy 6-1 lead to round out the second.

Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled and Frederik Andersen took his place after Dillon’s goal. It was all Ducks after that in the third with goals from Matt Beleskey and Patrick Maroon, but too little, too late. For the Sharks, they credit a fast start and solid special teams. “The start was there. It could have been a little better at certain times, but special teams got us going. It was good to see. That’s what we need is good special teams down the stretch,” said Pavelski after the game.

Bryzgalov’s teammates, however, stood behind him, regardless of the lopsided score. Cogliano commented in a post-game interview that

“It’s never solely on the goalie. I think we gave away too many odd man rushes. When you give any team eight or nine odd man rushes in a period, even if you don’t score on any of them, you gain momentum. It was a collective effort. I don’t think he played as good as he wanted to and we, obviously, did nothing to help him out. So I think it was a collective effort from everyone tonight.”

The sentiment shared by Cogliano on Bryzgalov is reminiscent of the Sharks’ play in the past, most recently against New Jersey with a 5-2 loss, or in the St. Louis game of 7-2 in early January. Much has to be said for collective efforts in both teams in this one, and for an inconsistent team like the Sharks, this was a good game. So, was McLellan pleased with his club? Absolutely. “A really good way to start the second half [of the season]. We were four lines deep, all six defensemen, solid goaltending, so everyone contributed.” A collective effort makes all the difference – whether good or bad.

Next up, the Sharks face the Chicago Blackhawks for their second meeting of the season on Saturday night.

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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