The offseason felt like an eternity after a...umm....difficult (?) ending to the season last year. Anaheim was given an immediate opportunity for redemption of sorts as they opened the season at the SAP Center in San Jose, the scene of last spring’s murder.
This game was the absolute John Gibson show, and quite frankly, the Ducks had zero business being even slightly competitive in this game. However, with a lucky bounce or two and a couple well-timed goals, the Ducks were able to steal two points in the season opener from the Sharks.
Definitely not the strategy that was drawn up, but a win is a win, and it’s hard to hate those. Improvement will be needed for Game 2 in Arizona, but the period-by-period breakdown details the game, if you really want to see that. I would not blame you for seeing the score, saying “Yay they won” and closing this before you continue on.
1st Period -
The season is underway. And the Ducks are winning! Maxime Comtois got a clean breakaway after a fantastic setup from Adam Henrique and did not miss, putting it underneath Martin Jones to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead just 49 seconds into the new season. That’s one way to start.
Josh Manson took an interference penalty shortly after the goal, but the power play for the Sharks was quickly canceled out by a Joe Thornton penalty. More penalties would follow as Pontus Aberg would make contact with Martin Jones behind the net, drawing a goalie interference call, right as Josh Manson was released from the box. More 4-on-4 in this chaotic first five minutes.
The Sharks would apply consistent pressure over the next couple minutes and would be rewarded with the game-tying goal from Evander Kane. It was a puck that John Gibson arguably should have stopped, but it squeaked through his pads and got the Sharks on the board and level with just over twelve minutes remaining in the first period.
The rest of the period featured some back and forth hockey with both teams trying to get things settled down and get into some offensive grooves. The period concluded with the Ducks applying some pressure in the San Jose zone, but 1-1 was the score after the first, with the Sharks leading in shots on goal by a count of 11-5.
All in all, it could’ve been a worse opening period from Anaheim, despite the fact that Anaheim was pretty severely outshot and outchanced in the final minutes of the period.
2nd Period -
The 2nd period picked up where the 1st left off, with the Sharks dominating possession and chances. The Ducks were hemmed into their own zone for almost two consecutive minutes before they could get a clear and a change.
Halfway through the period, Max Comtois would again make an impression as he centered a perfect pass to Jakob Silfverberg for a partial breakaway. Unfortunately, Silfverberg was unable to get the puck past Martin Jones, and the game remained 1-1, with the Sharks still dominating play.
Josh Manson would get his second penalty of the game with 6:47 left in the 2nd period for tripping, putting the Sharks on the power play. Oh boy.
The Ducks survived the penalty kill through the graces of John Gibson and the game stayed tied for the minute or so following the penalty kill (through the graces of John Gibson).
The Ducks would get a power play of their own with 3:36 remaining in the middle frame as Evander Kane was sent to the box for tripping. Let’s give this power play thing a chance!
Aaaaaand Tomas Hertl scores shorthanded with 2:46 remaining. Not so much a terrible mistake by Anaheim as just a fantastic move by Hertl. But still. Yeesh. 2-1 Sharks.
The Ducks can't stop getting inured... Perry and Kase before the season.— CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil) October 4, 2018
Then tonight Manson and Fowler were murdered on live television.
BUT THE DUCKS GET IT RIGHT BACK! BECAUSE REASONS!
A great setup in front of the net by Jakob Silfverberg sets up Rickard Rakell for his first goal out of 437 this season. Right back to a tie game at 2-2.
The second period comes to a close with the score tied 2-2, and the Sharks leading in shots on goal 26-9. Yep, twenty-six. To nine. And it’s 2-2 lol. Oh John Gibson, I can’t wait to see you get snubbed from the Vezina that you deserve this spring.
3rd Period -
The first few minutes of the 3rd, you know the story by now. The Sharks dominated possession and controlled the puck with consistent pressure in Anaheim’s zone, but John Gibson kept the game tied at 2.
With 11:58 to go in the 3rd, the Ducks reclaimed the lead on a fantastic backhander from Brandon Montour that got the top corner behind Martin Jones. It was a shot that definitely could have been saved by Jones, but hey, the Ducks will take anything they can get. 3-2 Ducks.
The Ducks would get a critical chance with 9:19 remaining in regulation, as Logan Couture would be sent to the sin bin for interference, giving the Ducks a power play chance already leading by a goal.
And boy, did they make that critical chance worth it. A tic-tac-toe play in front of the goal led to Adam Henrique depositing an absolutely massive goal for the Ducks just seconds into the power play. 4-2 Ducks. Not half-bad for a team that’s being outshot by 20.
The Ducks continued to try to apply pressure where they could without making silly mistakes defensively, and the Sharks pulled the goaltender with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
Carter Rowney added the cherry on top with an empty-netter with 23.7 seconds remaining in regulation, locking up a 5-2 win for the Ducks to begin the season. In the infamous words of John Ahlers, “They don’t ask how, they ask how many.”