Final Score: Ducks 3 – Sharks 2 (OT)
Frederik Andersen was back in net for the Ducks after a one-game break in Ottawa. Antti Niemi was the starter for the Sharks. This was also the first game back for Devante Smith-Pelly who was a healthy scratch in Ottawa. He started the period on the "top" line with Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon, relegating Rene Bourque to fourth line duty.
Not even a minute into the game Rickard Rakell had a point-blank chance that generated a huge rebound the Jakob Silfverberg nearly scored on. The Sharks first good chance was inches away from a goal as Patrick Marleau shot the puck off the post about four minutes in. Andersen made a great stop on Joe Pavelski on a three-on-one with Cam Fowler back defending. Silfverberg, Rakell and Andrew Cogliano were getting a lot of time early.
It didn't take long until Clayton Stoner dropped the gloves against Ty McGinn. Tim Jackman and John Scott had to be separated before a second fight broke out (more on them later). Stoner ended up on the ice first, but landed a couple of good punches so we'll give him the decision.
The Sharks and Ducks traded huge rebound chances, but the goalies kept it scoreless. Brent Burns blasted the puck from the point and Andersen booted out a rebound to his left. He was able to recover for the second save on the rebound chance. Going down the ice Kesler made a sweet pass to Etem, but Niemi stopped him.
The Ducks were significantly better defensively with Hampus Lindholm back, but he took a holding-the-stick penalty late in the period after Hazy jinxed him on the call. The Ducks killed the penalty and didn't let the Sharks get a shot on net. Andersen made a great series of saves to stop the Sharks top line in the final minute of the period. Sharks finished the period leading in shots 15-7.
Getzlaf, Maroon and Smith-Pelly were generating all the chances early in the period. Bourque took a pretty hard hit behind the Ducks net while trying to make a pass, but stayed on the ice. The Sharks cycled and passed the puck in Ducks zone for at least a minute, but Andersen and the defense managed to clear the puck. The Ducks made a quick change and Getzlaf jumped on the ice. He started a series of cycle plays in the Sharks end that resulted in a few shots on goal but nothing too dangerous.
About seven minutes into the period, Etem skated into the zone and shot the puck around the glass. Beleskey shot the puck back and a weird bounce landed right in front of Niemi. Rakell was there to tap it into the net for his first NHL(regular season) goal. And out of nowhere, both in terms of the game as a whole and the specific scoring play, the Ducks were up 1-0.
The Sharks pressured the Ducks right away on the next shift. While everyone was preoccupied with Andrew Desjardins collision with Freddy, John Scott swung around and hit Tim Jackman right on the jaw with the back of his hand/butt end of his stick/forearm area, knocking Jackman out cold. Jackman regained consciousness and was helped off the ice, but did not return to the game. The Ducks got a power play out of it for the interference on Andersen. [Ed. Note: This may be the first ever makeup call, where the penalized infraction took place before the one they were making up for. Freddy went down really easily, but with Jackman knocked out, they couldn't just leave it at 5-on-5. -CK]
Sami Vatanen on the power play fluttered a shot just inches from the top right corner. The Ducks got the puck back and Kesler ripped one off the post on a one-time blast. The power play ended without a goal despite the great chances. The Ducks started to pick up the offense getting another good chance from Maroon in front of Niemi. Rakell got a shot right in front of Niemi, but the Finnish goalie made a nice save.
Lots of back and forth chances started until Joe Thornton made a pass when he could have had a great chance in front of Andersen. Scott Hannan got a tripping penalty and the Ducks went on the power play again. This power play was much less effective than the first and the Ducks didn't score either. The period came to an end after Andersen stopped Tomas Hertl within the final minute. The Sharks led in shots 26-17, but trailed 1-0.
Clayton Stoner took a hooking penalty just a little over a minute into the period. Joe Pavelski tipped the puck in and the game was tied almost immediately on the power play. Getzlaf had a huge chance dangling past Niemi but somehow didn't score. The Sharks and Ducks traded chances but a couple good saves kept the game tied. A long-range shot from Melker Karlsson trickled through Andersen. Andersen should have had that save all the way, but just like that before the third period was half over, the Sharks lead 2-1.
Silfverbeg and Rakell started the offense again by blasting the puck at Niemi, but nobody could seem to get to the rebounds. Getzlaf spotted Ben Lovejoy skating down the ice and slung him a pass. Lovejoy layed into the shot but Niemi made the save and held on. The Ducks kept up the pressure and got a ton of shots on net. With just about six and a half minutes left, the shots were 30-27 in favor of the Sharks.
With just over five minutes left, Ducks started a cycle as soon as Getzlaf got the puck in the corner, Cam Fowler made a B-Line for the front of the net. Getzlaf spotted him streaking into the middle uncovered with a pretty pass. Fowler made a quick move to the backhand to send Niemi sprawling and tapped it in to tie the game at two.
The Sharks continually iced the puck and Brent Burns caught Smith-Pelly with a high stick. The Ducks went on a power play with 1:07 remaining in the period. Niemi made a huge save on Kesler and held on before the period would end.
The Ducks started the overtime period with the remainder of the power play from the third period. Getzlaf was one-on-one with Niemi but Niemi made the save high glove. The Ducks kept possession and just as the power play expired, Ryan Kesler ripped a shot into the top corner for the game winner. Perfect shot, perfect goal and the Ducks go into the Christmas break with a win and sitting atop the NHL standings.
The Good: The game tying goal and the game winner were both absolute beauties. Check 'em out again:
The Bad: Freddy Andersen made some outrageously good saves to keep the Ducks in the game for the first half, but that second goal he gave up stink, stank, stunk.
The Ugly: It wasn't the worst thing John Scott has ever done, but seeing Tim Jackman laid out flat on his back, completely motionless for a good 10 seconds was very scary. There was no update on him post game but, the only conclusion anyone can really draw from that is concussion.
3rd MVD: Ryan Getzlaf - continues his streak of excellence. He assisted on both the Fowler goal and the Kesler goal, and generated a ton of chances throughout the game. Without Perry on the top line and having to deal with interchangeable line mates of Smith-Pelly, Maroon, Rene Bourque and Dany Heatley it is amazing what Getzlaf has been able to accomplish. He has earned this holiday break.
2nd MVD: Cam Fowler - played 21:03 in the game and had the game-tying goal late in the third period. Fowler only had one shot on goal in the game and it was his amazing highlight real goal in the third. Throughout the game he was also solid defensively, despite a -7 CF at 5v5. The game tying goal was so great you should watch it over and over again. Seriously, scroll back up and watch it again.
1st MVD: Ryan Kesler - played 22:44. He had the game-winning overtime goal (and if it wasn't for a great save by Niemi, could have had the game winner in regulation) and was never caught out of position. Kesler and Getzlaf have been able to keep this team atop the division and conference despite all the injuries and illnesses. Kesler played in all situations and did not disappoint in this game.
Next game: Saturday, December 27 at Arizona Coyotes (5:00 p.m. PST).