After sitting back for the first three nights of the 2015-16 NHL season, excited that hockey's back but still playing the waiting game, it's finally time for the Ducks to begin the season.
Anaheim went 1-4-0 in the season series against the Sharks last year, including an 0-2-0 mark at the SAP Center. Since the 13-14 season the Ducks are 0-5-2 in games at San Jose, and haven't won up there since a 5-3 win on March 19, 2012 when Nate Guenin's goal a tick shy of the midway mark in the second period proved the winner. All time Anaheim is 27-29-5 facing the Sharks up north.
Though there were concerns about Jakob Silfverberg after taking a head-shot from Raffi Torres in the final game of the preseason, the Swedish forward and Ducks coaching staff have since quieted concerns. According to the Orange County Register's Janis Carr, though Silfverberg felt 'a little foggy, slow, and tired' after his first practice with the team since the incident, he plans on playing tonight.
The Ducks took both preseason meetings against the Sharks, winning 2-1 in San Jose on a third period Corey Perry power play goal, and taking a decisive 5-1 result over a mainly AHL roster in Anaheim. In the game at Honda Center the Ducks had a pair of power play goals, and got four goals from defensemen as Cam Fowler (PP), Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Kevin Bieksa all found the back of the net.
San Jose opened the season in Los Angeles, blistering the Kings 5-1 to pick up their first win of the season. An early concession was of no issue as the visitors chalked up the next five goals, converting twice on the power play. Fear The Fin highlighted San Jose's special teams, killing all six penalties and posting a 25% success rate with the man advantage.
Joe Pavelski had a three point night for the Sharks, scoring the eventual game-winning goal on the power play in the first period and assisting on goals by Brent Burns as well as Joonas Donskoi's first in the NHL. Marc-Edouard Vlasic also had a pair of assists, while Joe Thornton and Burns had a goal and an assist. Martin Jones stopped 19 of 20 in his debut wearing the teal fish crest.
The Sharks absolutely ran the Kings in both shots and shot attempts, posting 32-20 and 54-44 (35-25 at five-on-five) margins respectively. Burns and Paul Martin had the best even strength attempts differential, with San Jose posting +18 and +15. It's even more impressive considering both players more than 60% of their five-on-five zone starts in the defensive end. Pavelski was the best forward at even strength, +13.