In a battle for Pacific Division supremacy, the Anaheim Ducks couldn’t hold on to the spot it has comfortably held for most of the season.
Joe Thornton scored his 11th goal of the season to tie the game and assisted on the game-winning goal by Brent Burns as the San Jose Sharks replaced the Ducks on the top spot of the Pacific Division after a 3-2 victory Thursday night at the SAP Center in San Jose.
After a quiet first two periods, the pace picked up in the final frame. With the score knotted at one a piece, the Ducks struck quickly as Teemu Selanne tallied his eighth goal of the season after tipping in a Corey Perry wrist shot to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead.
Minutes later, Thornton tied the game after capitalizing on a tantalizing rebound following a 2-on-1 break on Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen. Later in the period, Burns deflected a centering pass from the Sharks’ captain past Andersen to give San Jose the lead for good.
The Ducks had an opportunity to tie the game late in the third period, but an unusual play combined with an early whistle put the chance to rest. With plenty of quirky bounces, the puck ended up on top of San Jose’s net and while it came tumbling to the ice, the whistle blew just before Sharks goalie Antti Niemi pushed it into his own net.
The play was not reviewable and the Sharks held on in the final minutes.
Besides the in-state rivalry and divisional battle, a major story line for both teams coming into the contest was the power play. Both the Ducks and Sharks have been mired in abysmal man advantage slumps.
Those ended tonight.
Patrick Marleau would net a power play goal on the first man advantage opportunity of the game late in the first period. Mathieu Perreault, who nearly ended the power play slump for Anaheim in Tuesday night’s loss to the Washington Capitals, potted his 15th goal of the season on the Ducks’ power play opportunity in the second period.
Despite breaking the power play spell, the Ducks added one to the loss column for the second straight game.
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