Final Score: Ducks 3, Sharks 5
First Period Recap: The first period was all San Jose, all the time. The Ducks could barely match their pressure and intensity.
Joe Thornton, who is about as nimble on his skates as a moose, out-skates Luca Sbisa and Bryan Allen (back in tonight, Toni Lydman rested) to get behind them and shoot. Viktor Fasth allows a huge rebound straight to Brent Burns, who misses the net. Minutes later, Allen is beaten by Thornton again and he chips the puck to Michael Hanzus. Sbisa, focusing on the hit instead of the puck, allows Hanzus to pass the puck to Burns in the slot. Burns doesn't miss this time as he gets the puck up and over Fasth's glove.
Off the face-off, Emerson Etem nearly ties it up as he speeds down the ice, splits the Sharks defense with a dangle and shoots. As he would do many times this evening, Antti Niemi made the save. Bobby Ryan had the next quality scoring chance on Niemi after he intercepted a Tommy Wingels pass. BR used Justin Braun as a screen as he snapped a wrist shot on goal. Again, save by Niemi.
Corey Perry wasn't paying attention to who was coming up behind him as he held onto the puck and James Sheppard swiped it from him. Sheppard passes to Joe Pavelski who spins around and flings the puck past Fasth. Perry, sitting on the ice, just stares at the Sharks celebration in disbelief. San Jose up 2-0.
Ryan Getzlaf is now doing what every great player does - he makes everyone else around him better. Kyle Palmieri, up with Getz and Perry, attempts to keep the puck in the Sharks zone and is unable to. The puck goes to the neutral zone where Getzlaf muscles off some Sharks and gets the puck back to Palmieri. Palms immediately loses it again and who else but Getzy gets the puck back to him a second time. Shocker - Palms loses it a third time and Getzlaf gets it back. A final time Getz gets the puck to Palmieri and he loses control. Oy!
Matt Beleskey was a healthy scratch tonight, bringing Brad
Starburns Staubitz back in to the line-up. He was beyond terrible with a dozen-ish turnovers and icing. I wasn't the only one that thought he sucked; Boudreau did, too. Staubitz ended up seeing only four shifts for a total of 3:37 of ice time, he and David Steckel were the only two players who had less than 10 minutes of ice time. I don't believe either was hurt during the game, which could be the other reason they had minimal shifts.
With 5:30 to go in the first, Ben Lovejoy hooks Wingels and the Sharks go on the power play. It ended up being a strong penalty kill for the Ducks. Every time the Sharks pressured in the Ducks zone, the Anaheim players were in every shooting and passing lane.
A minute after the Lovejoy penalty ended, the Ducks went back on the PK due to Sbisa having knee-to-knee contact Logan Couture. It was a marginal call. Sbisa and Couture were racing towards the puck from different directions. There wasn't much Sbisa could do as Couture turned towards him. It was another strong PK for the Ducks. There was only one major heart attack when Marleau slipped behind the defense an just missed the net. The period ended with the Sharks still on the power play.
Second Period Recap: Anaheim started the period by killing off the remaining seconds on San Jose's power play. Like the first period, the Sharks had control of the puck right away. The Sharks went up 3-0 when Matt Irwin shoots directly on net from the point. Fasth makes the initial save but the rebound pops out in between the circles. Perry and Palmieri do nothing to stop Martin Havlat from getting the puck and scoring.
The Ducks go on the power play next as Perry draws a tripping call on Justin Braun behind the net. SJ has the fourth best penalty kill in the league, so getting a goal isn't going to be easy. It's even harder when the Sharks make the initial rush of the power play short handed. Marleau fired the puck at Fasth and he barely got a blocker on it. San Jose controls the puck nearly the entire power play. As the seconds of the man advantage ticked down, the fans in attendance at Honda Center began to boooooo loudly.
Niemi kept the Sharks up after a barrage of shots from Getzlaf, Palmieri and Francois Beauchemin. The same can be said of Fasth keeping the Ducks within reach of the Sharks. Ryan is completely out skated by Brent Burns who takes the puck all the way to the top of Fasth crease and shoots. Somehow Fasth made the save.
Etem had a strong game on Monday night and he was the first to get the Ducks on the board. He steals the puck from Braun and heads towards the net. He was intending to pass to an on rushing Peter Holland on the far post but Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart got in the way of the pass and deflected it into his own net. Ducks now down by two.
Lovejoy takes his second penalty of the game as he wraps his arm around Wingels on a breakaway. This wasn't an easy of a kill for the Ducks as the other two were. It was a San Jose shooting gallery but Fasth stopped all that was thrown at him.
Allen was caught flat footed as Sheppard easily picks the puck off his stick and charges towards Fasth. Again, Fasth makes the initial save but leaves a rebound for Sheppard to dig at. Fasth was able to cover once he figured out where the puck was.
To close the second period, the Ducks went on the power play after Marleau grabs Lovejoy's stick. Thinking the penalty was on the Ducks, Niemi leaves his crease but the Ducks couldn't capitalize. On this power play, the strategy looked like it was to fire from the point and then dig at rebounds. It wasn't working all that well. The best chances the Ducks got came from screened shots away from the net. The period ended with 28 seconds left in the Ducks power play.
Third Period Recap: San Jose controlled the remaining seconds of the Ducks power play. Cam Fowler was able to break free and send the puck around the glass from the neutral zone. Niemi wasn't paying attention to where the puck was and it took a weird carom off the corner board and directly on net. Niemi stopped the puck before it could squeak through him on the post. Poor Cam Fowler can't buy himself a goal right now.
Just a minute into the period, Getzlaf stickhandles in circles around a couple Sharks and fakes off another as he passes to Beauchemin in the slot. Beauch shoots and scores past the screened Niemi. Ducks now down by one goal, 3-2.
The Ducks carried the momentum after the goal, sending shot after shot on net. Until, Sbisa decided to two-hand slash Adam Burrish, hard enough to break Burrish's stick. The Sharks are back on the power play. The Ducks PK was it's best during this kill. They were in control of the puck. Even Allen made a smart move as he hammered the puck into the same area where Fowler's shot caromed earlier. The puck ricocheted to a nearly open David Steckel rushing down the center of the ice. Ducks kill of the penalty and go back to trying to tie things up.
That is until Perry get a goaltender interference penalty. This was definitely a very shady call. Getz and Perry are rushing towards Niemi. Getz hangs back and Perry continues forward. About a foot away from the crease, Perry begins to try to stop. When he's at the top of the crease near Niemi, Matt Irwin gives Perry a little push directly into the goaltender. Niemi sold it further by flailing to the ice. The crowd was not pleased by the call and audibly protested 'ref you suck' for a good 30 seconds.
The Sharks thought they scored on the power play when Couture deflects a Joe Pavelski shot from the point into the net; however, the ref waves the goal off saying it was scored by a high stick. The play went to Toronto for review. After a couple minutes, the ref came back with the decision that the video of the play was inconclusive and the call on the ice stands - no goal. HUGE break from the Ducks.
Play resumes with the Sharks still on the power play. Sheldon Souray turns the puck over directly to Couture who passes to Pavelski right in front of the net and the puck hits Fasth. The rebound goes straight to Marleau back on the goal line. Marleau passes the puck to Couture and Beauchemin bailed out his partner on defense by diving into lane to block the shot.
The Ducks think they might have another break after Perry misses the puck right next to him and it's shot through the legs of Lovejoy and up over the shoulder of Fasth by Sheppard. It was called a good goal on the ice but there was a question if the puck deflected off of another Shark's high stick. It was reviewed and the call stands. Ducks down 4-2 midway through the third.
The rest of the way, if the Ducks wanted to score, they were going to have to deal with a ton of body contact from the Sharks. Anaheim looked to have a quality scoring chance and then one of the Sharks would get in the shooting lane and block the shot.
Throughout the game, Perry looked to still be a second off of his normal timing. He was fanning on shots or missing wide. Finally he gets one to go in after Ryan intercepts a pass and gets it to Perry in front of the net. Perry digs and digs until the puck trickles out across the goal line from the five-hole of Niemi. Ducks back to being within a goal, 4-3.
Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu almost scored the game tying goal as they flew down the ice and right in front of Niemi, who was screened by his defenseman. Somehow Niemi makes the save.
Bruce Boudreau calls a time out with a minute-ish to go. Play resumes without Fasth in net and the Ducks in the Sharks end when the puck deflects off Corey Perry's stick over the glass. The Sharks wanted a delay of game penalty, they didn't get it. Instead, the face-off was moved to outside the Sharks zone. Koivu came out to take the draw and he loses it. The puck gets to Dan Boyle who sends it into the open net to ice the game. Sharks win 5-3.
The Good: I thought Emerson Etem had a fantastic night. He was the only one seeming to be at full speed on every shift. The kid is not afraid to mix it up or sacrifice the body in order to get to the puck. His puck handling skills are outstanding. I cannot wait to see him grow as a Duck.
The Bad: The Ducks didn't look tired to me even though they played last night. San Jose played earlier in the day on Sunday and had to travel from Minnesota but you would have never known it from the way they attacked the Ducks.
The Ugly: This is the Ducks first three game losing streak of the season. It was bound to happen. The good thing is that they get it out of the way now, instead of crunch time later on.
3rd Icehole: Can anyone tell me where the power play went? The Ducks are ranked so high in the league mainly due to their lack of chances to fail. Less power plays = less chances to lower your statistic. That's not good. They should be high up there because they can score.
2nd Icehole: My beloved Saku Koivu. This was probably his worst game this season. He had four turnovers and couldn't win a draw when the Ducks needed it the most.
1st Icehole: Pairing of Byan Allen and Luca Sbisa. Luca more than Bryan was a bigger icehole. The two players were the least mobile of the Ducks pairings. San Jose took advantage by skating circles around them. Sbisa is in desperate need of another 'wake-up call' healthy scratch. His play has been straight up fugly.
Next Game: Wednesday, March 27, 7:00pm at San Jose.