We're up to four straight wins and counting, folks. That turnaround we've been waiting for all season? It looks like it's finally here.
Best: Victory in a Four-Point Game
If this game took place in any of the last three season, I'd be more concerned about process than results. But right now the Ducks need every point they can get, and it doesn't get any bigger than the proverbial four-point game against a divisional foe. If the Ducks had dropped this one in regulation, they would be six points back of the third and final Pacific playoff spot. Instead, they find themselves two points out of a playoff spot. It's time to take our collective finger off the panic button, because with 68 games to go, the Ducks have righted their early-season ship.
Worst: Turtle Defense
Take a look at that third period.
Some score effect is almost unavoidable, but that's no excuse for almost flatlining during the final period of a huge game. Thank goodness for:
Best: Anton Khudobin
He didn't have to be spectacular early on, and he got lucky when Tommy Wingels hit the post in the second, but after that he was the best player on the ice. Joe Pavelski had a few great looks, most of them manufactured at least in part by Joe Thornton, but Khudobin turned him away every single time. Perhaps his best moment came right after Ryan Getzlaf's worst: an ugly turnover leads to a Patrick Marleau breakaway which leads to two huge save. Good for Dobby (who is making twice what Andersen is this year).
Worst: Bad Penalties at Bad Times
Two excellent penalty killers in Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler put their team a man down in the final five minutes of the game. And this against a team with as much talent as San Jose? Not a good habit to get into. When Fowler flipped that puck into the crowd and gave the Sharks a six-on-four, I was sure we were in for some three-on-three. Which leads to . . .
Best: Penalty Killing
The Ducks killed off all four San Jose power plays, and guess where that leaves them relative to the rest of the league? First overall for the entire season so far, with a 91.7% PK effectiveness. A lot that is due to the goaltending, no doubt, but the penalty killing skaters are also doing their part. Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, and Sami Vatanen were particularly impressive tonight. And dare I say Clayton Stoner is pulling his weight? (No. 6 D weight, not his contract's. To be perfectly clear.)
Worst: Paging Carl Hagelin
Sure, he was a positive possession player against the Sharks, and he has been one most of the season. Anyone else think that's because he's playing on a line with Kesler and Silfverberg? My eye test says he was invisible tonight, which is a sentence I could have written more than a few times this season. Right now it looks like that $4 million could have gone into an even bigger scoreboard at Honda Center for all the good it's doing.
Best: The Twins
A one-point night for each of them? Big deal. Except it's 2015-16 and they each had the worst starts of their careers, so it is a big deal. They played well again tonight, and it seems safe to say that they are back to usual Getzlaf and Perry form.
3) Corey Perry
Scoring the only goal in a game is always going to get you consideration, especially when you back it up with a post shot and shift after dominant shift in the offensive zone.
2) Cam Fowler
Brian Hayward was praising the 23-year old blueliner all night long, and in this instance I couldn't agree more with him. Fowler was doing everything a responsible two-way defenseman needs to do, from breaking up plays and staying inside his man to setting up the break out with a pass and, of course since this is Fowler we're talking about, skating the puck out of trouble.
1) Anton Khudobin
Tough to argue with a 31-save shutout. Have people been saying Kudos to Khudobin yet? People should say that. Ah, I just Googled it. Right here in bold on the Florida Panthers website from a 2014 write-up.