(photo: Steve Evans)
The San Jose Sharks hosted the Anaheim Ducks in the season- and home-opener of the 2018-19 season at the SAP Center in San Jose. The two rival teams each had a W and an L in their preseason games against each other. Newly acquired, 2-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson joined Marc-Edouard Vlasic on defense and other Shark veterans like Captain Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Brent Burns. But it was Ducks rookie Max Comtois who got the first goal 49 seconds in, his first career NHL goal on the first shot of the game.
This sparked the Sharks into action, and they had 4 shots on goal only 3 minutes into the game. A man-advantage on the first power play of the game gave fans the first chance to see Burns and Karlsson together on the blue line. Unfortunately, Thornton was sent to the box and 4-on-4 action extended for 1:20. The Ducks power play was cut short when Sharks netminder Martin Jones got tripped up, causing another 4-on-4 play for another minute, ending with a Sharks power play for 49 seconds, all to no avail.
The Sharks’ third line gave the team a much-needed boost of momentum when Evander Kane shot the puck through Ducks defenseman Josh Manson’s legs and then through the five-hole of goaltender John Gibson at even strength.
More speed and more chances opened up the second period and a tripping call sent Manson to the box for two minutes. San Jose was not able to capitalize on the power play, but then were short handed for two themselves when Kane tripped Manson.
It was then that Tomas Hertl lit the lamp on a shorthanded goal as he slipped a fast one past Gibson, with some fancy moves in both the neutral zone and the offensive zone. The celebration was short-lived though when Rickard Rakell answered back right away, making it 2-2 on a power play goal.
The third period began with more speed and focused determination by both teams. Anaheim added another notch to their score by way of a backhand wrister from Brandon Montour, with 12 minutes left in the game. Shots were 32-12 in favor of the Sharks, really showing the might of Gibson in being a solid wall for the Ducks while his team was capitalizing on less shots. With their one-goal lead, Anaheim drew a penalty on Logan Couture and made it a two-goal lead on a power play goal late in the game by Adam Henrique.
The Sharks finally pulled Jones, hoping the extra skater would help in playing catch-up in the remaining few minutes of the game, but Carter Rowney put the nail in the coffin with 23 seconds remaining, making it a final score of 5-2. Although San Jose had more than double the shots on goal with 33 to Anaheim’s 15, it was clearly the Ducks’ show in Sharks Territory.