Ducks Can't Complete Comeback in Shootout, Lose 4-3

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

After being dominated for two periods, the Ducks found a way to push the Sharks to a shootout, but couldn't finish it off and now trail the Pacific Division lead by one point.

Final Score: Ducks 3, Sharks 4 (SO)

First Period Recap: Very early in the first period, Joe Thornton had a scare, when a point shot deflected off of a teammate in front of the net and smacked him in the eye.  He was able to leave the ice without stopping play, a few minutes, a few stitches and a serious shiner later, he was back in the game.

Not surprisingly, the first 20 minutes were controlled by the Sharks, who lead the league in first period goals, but the Ducks survived.  San Jose had the puck in the Ducks' end for extended periods of time, but the Ducks did a good job of limiting the number of second chance opportunities.

Not only did the Ducks survive, they took the lead almost six minutes in. Corey Perry magically appeared behind both Sharks defenders at the blueline, Ryan Getzlaf threaded a perfect pass to him for the break away and Perry roofed it over Antti Niemi's glove.  Corey Perry making a goal look that easy, with such a pretty play IN SAN JOSE and then not celebrating is as close as you're going to get to an on ice middle finger to the fans in a game not involving Andrew Ference.

Shortly after the goal, Tim Jackman and former Duck Mike Brown dropped the gloves in what was an uncharacteristically uneventful fight for Brown.

Part of the Sharks dominance in the period came from two power play attempts.  The first was actually prior to the Perry goal, when Mark Fistric was called for a questionable charge, but the second was fully deserved wen Ben Lovejoy slashed the hands of Patrick Marleau to prevent a quality scoring chance.  The Sharks looked dangerous on both opportunities, keeping the puck in the Ducks zone for the vast majority of the time, but couldn't convert.

The best of San Jose's many chances to score in the first was a cross crease pass from Thornton to Tomas Hertl that the rookie sensation simply fanned on with about four minutes remaining.  If he had made any kind of contact with the puck the game would have been tied, but the Ducks got lucky on that one.

Toward the end of the period the Ducks did have a few good possession shifts, and as the final seconds of the period wound down things got chippy.  Andrew Cogliano got a shot of with a few seconds left on the clock, no big deal, but took exception to something Jason Demers said.  The two traded cross checks and Demers dropped the gloves quickly.  Daniel Winnik and Scott Hannan jumped in to the defense of their respective teammates and when the dust settled the Ducks had their first power play opportunity of the game.

Second Period Recap: Unsuccessful in the six seconds of PP time at the end of the first, the Ducks started the middle frame with the man advantage and looked about as bad as is possible.  Mostly due to sloppy passing the Ducks spent the first minute and a half or so trying (and failing) to gain the zone.

However....... with 16 seconds left in the PP Cam Fowler found himself with the puck at the side of a WIDE OPEN net.  Somehow he ended up hitting the far post, the puck bounced off of Niemi's skate and the Shark goaltender was able to get his glove down to stop Perry from slamming home the rebound.

That was the peak of the second period for the Ducks.  The rest of the second period was all Sharks, much like the first, but raised up a notch.  San Jose tied the game at the 4:16 mark when Marc-Eduard Vlasic's point shot was deflected in by Logan Couture.  Nothing Hiller could have done on that one.  HOWEVER, the Sharks took the lead on a goal that could be blamed on nobody but the Swiss netminder.

The Sharks won the first faceoff of their second penalty kill of the night and cleared it the length of the ice.  Hiller came out of his crease to play the puck, but panicked when he saw the forecheck of Thornton.  Instead of retreating into his crease, with two teammates back or putting in a safe place like behind the net, Hiller got fancy and decided to whip it across the ice, directly to Patrick Marleau.  He and Thornton passed it back and forth a few times for good measure before depositing it into the gaping net.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's the worst goal Hiller's ever given up, and hopefully it stays that way.

The Sharks continued to be unrelenting in their pressure.  The best chance that didn't go in for them was a very impressive effort by Hertl to lift the puck on the backhand from point blank range which went of the crossbar.

Perry actually put the puck past Niemi with about three and a half minutes left in the period, but the whistle had already blown.  It was a strange play, as Perry clearly slashed Couture and the Ducks got possession back twice before the whistle blew on the delayed penalty.  Absolutely the correct call, just should have been whistled about three seconds earlier.

It looked like, despite being hammered for 40 minutes, the Ducks would escape the second only down by a goal, but with one minute left Martin Havlat made it 3-1.  Hannan's shot from the point got tangled up with Brown and Lovejoy in front of Hiller.  When it popped lose Havlat was there to pick up the rebound, after having circumvented the offensive zone to evade Fowler.

Third Period Recap: Down two goals and being dominated so thoroughly through 40 minutes, it didn't look like the Ducks would be able to muster anything in the third, but the Sharks made that cardinal mistake of sitting back to protect the lead and paid for it.

The Ducks warmed up for the first half of the period or so.  Their best chances came at the hands of Saku Koivu who was left pretty much wide open on the far post twice, but was unable to handle the passes coming his way to get anything on goal. One other super random side note on Koivu in the third, at the end of the period he won a faceoff with the butt end of his stick, it was a really smart and skillful play to get around that new rule where you can't win the faceoff back with your hand in the D-zone anymore.  But I digress.

The breakthrough came from an unlikely source.  Alex Grant, playing in his first ever NHL game just kind of tossed the puck toward Niemi who put both hands in front of his face to block the shot, possibly trying to catch it on the wrong side of his body, but it popped over his head and into the net.  Weird goal, but it gave the Ducks some energy with just over seven minutes left.

Four minutes later, Nick Bonino won a rare offensive zone faceoff (he was only 25% in the circle tonight) back to Lovejoy and with Matt Beleskey providing the screen the reverend scored his first goal as a Duck to tie the game at three.  And we were off to Overtime.

Overtime Recap: A minute and a half into overtime, Perry went off for holding Marleau.  This was by far the best penalty kill of the night for the Ducks.  For the most part they sent out a unit of Getzlaf, Winnik and Fowler, who absolutely killed it (pun intended).  They were great at getting sticks on pucks in shooting and passing lanes, winning battles along the boards and taking their time to make sure that they cleared the full length of the ice.

Fowler made a great diving play to stop a cross ice pass with a swing of the stick.  Getzlaf was skating his ass off to get pressure down low and up on the point men, at one point poking the puck out of the zone between two Sharks.  San Jose didn't manage a shot on goal during the overtime PP.  It was a clinic of 4-on-3 penalty killing.  Easily my favorite part of this game.

After the penalty expired San Jose got a partial 3-on-1 rush that Hampus Lindholm (who was great all game, including some time killing penalties) got back to make a 3-on-2 and smother the shot attempt with some fantastic stick work.

The Ducks finished the OT period on the power play as Demers tackled Sami Vatanen on the wall, but they couldn't convert and it was down to the skills competition to decide this one.

Shootout: Joe Pavelski was the only player to score in the shootout and it was by controversial means.  He weaved his way into the zone and threw the breaks on HARD at the hash marks, dusted the puck off and wristed it past Hiller.  The question was whether or not he came to a complete stop.  If so, the goal would not have counted, but the off ice officials ruled that there was some sort of continuous forward momentum and it counted as the game winning goal.

**********

The Good: Pretty first goal from Corey Perry, well done to take advantage of the Sharks sitting back in the third, but mostly AMAZING penalty killing during overtime.

The Bad: The Ducks were outplayed in the first and severely outplayed in the second.

The Ugly: What the F**K was Hiller thinking on that second goal!?

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3rd Icehole: Dustin Penner - Again, after a really strong game (versus Calgary yesterday) he comes up with a lackluster performance.  I can't say he directly did anything to cost the Ducks this game, but he just looked more like LA Penner than Anaheim Penner tonight.  

2nd Icehole: Ben Lovejoy - Yes, he scored the game tying goal, but he played a TON (26:06, as compared to his season average of 19:45) and it appeared to wear on him, as he had a tough time handling the puck for the majority of the game.

1st Icehole: I'm going to take loads of shit for this, but Jonas Hiller - the exact opposite of Ben Lovejoy, he was very solid for most of the game, and called upon to keep the Ducks alive in the first two periods, BUT his one moment of temporary insanity was too much for me to get over.  Blast away in the comments.

Next Game: Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00pm vs the Los Angeles Kings

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