After watching Frederik Andersen play lights-out for the last couple weeks, backup Anton Khudobin knew he needed to make a statement tonight if he wanted to start another game any time soon.
He also knew, like the rest of his teammates, that any game against a Pacific Division opponent was going to have a huge impact on the standings given the Ducks' slow start. As Khudobin said on Fox Sports Prime Ticket after the game, "It's a really, really big two points."
Corey Perry scored early and Khudobin made sure his breakaway tally stood as the game-winner, standing tall from start to finish. The Ducks walked away with their first shutout in San Jose since 2007, their first road win of the season, and their fourth straight victory.
The Ducks dominated for much of the first period, with their first good scoring chance coming from a Clayton Stoner wrist shot made possible by a good pass from Chris Stewart. A couple minutes later, the Twins connected on a play they've made countless times over the last decade. After collecting a pass from Patrick Maroon, Ryan Getzlaf hesitated for just long enough for Perry to slip behind the Sharks' top defensive pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun before giving him the stretch pass. Perry walked in all alone on Martin Jones and beat him high stick side, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead just under five minutes into the game.
It wasn't until two minutes after the goal that the Sharks put their first shot on Anton Khudobin, which happened during a strong shift from Joe Thornton and his linemates. But the Ducks continued to outplay their hosts for the rest of the period, including two near misses from Ryan Kesler and Stewart, both of whom were stoned by Jones on point-blank opportunities in the second half of the period.
It was the Sharks who came out strong in the second period, and it didn't take them long to overtake the Ducks in shots on goal (but not shot attempts). San Jose came closest to scoring when Hampus Lindholm blew a tire and Tommy Wingels took advantage, speeding in on Khudobin and unleashing a slap shot that the entire arena thought crossed the line. Video review showed that it deflected off the goaltender's pad and then off the iron, but never into the net.
The physical play picked up in the second period with a pair of fights and some hard hits. When asked about that aspect of the game during the second intermission, Cam Fowler told Kent French, "That's a team with a really good power play, so you have to walk the line between sticking up for your teammates and turning the other cheek." Naturally, it would be the rarely-penalized Fowler who gave the Sharks their most dangerous power play when he chipped the puck over the glass with less than three minutes remaining in the third period.
Toward the end of the second period, Thornton and Stoner got in each other's way for a second before Chris Wagner slammed into Matt Nieto. Seconds later, Micheal Haley jumped off the bench and started to fight Stoner while Brenden Dillon fought Wagner. The latter two were both given game misconducts.
The Sharks pressed even harder in the third period, but a combination of bend-but-don't-break defense and stellar goaltending kept them off the board. Halfway through the period, Getzlaf took the puck coast-to-coast then turned it over with a blind pass that sent Patrick Marleau in alone on Khudobin. The netminder made two saves on Marleau in less than a second, first on the initial shot and then on the rebound attempt.
With six minutes to go, Perry walked out from behind the net and fired a turnaround shot that hit the crossbar. Besides that opportunity, the third period was almost all Sharks, who got great chances from Pavelski and Vlasic in the dying minutes during a pair of back-to-back power plays. The Ducks never got close to scoring on the empty net, but they didn't have to, as Sami Vatanen and Jakob Silfverberg made big defensive plays in the final half minute to seal the victory.
Getzlaf's team has won both games since his return to the lineup following his appendectomy. In the first intermission, Perry told Kent French that "He [Getzlaf] is our leader. When he's going, we're going."
The Ducks will look to extend their winning streak to five when they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7:00 pm on Monday.