Anaheim Ducks Cannot Complete Rally, Lose 6-4 to San Jose Sharks

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Nov 29, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) scores a goal against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks made a quick trip to the SAP Center to take on the San Jose Sharks. Through 24 games, the Ducks were 14-5-5 and tied for the most points in the NHL entering the night, with 33. They were facing a San Jose Sharks team that had been struggling, losing its past four games. However, the Sharks dominated an undisciplined Ducks squad when they last met on October 26th, winning 4-1 while the Ducks racked up 90 penalty minutes in the contest.

This game didn’t have the same scrappy nature, but it ended in the same result. A furious rally by the Ducks fell short, as the team fell 6-4 to the San Jose Sharks.

Logan Couture opened the scoring at the 9:05 mark. A Patrick Marleau shot from the point bounced off the skate of Ryan Getzlaf in front of the net. Couture, who was knocked down, got up, and the puck fell to him, and he put a shot past Frederik Andersen to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The goal gave Couture his ninth goal of the season.

However, the Ducks would respond quickly. Devante Smith-Pelly left the puck for Hampus Lindholm at the left point, and he fired a shot into a maze of four players consisting of Matt Beleskey, Jakob Silfverberg, Brenden Dillon, and Matt Nieto. The puck bounced off Beleskey past goaltender Antti Niemi to tie the score at one at the 10:53 mark. The goal gave Beleskey 11 goals on the season, matching his career high from 2009-2010. The pending unrestricted free agent met that mark in 25 games, and it took him 60 games to score 11 goals five seasons ago.

The Ducks had been looking to get and convert a power-play, but it would be the Sharks that made the most of the Ducks’ first man-advantage situation. Getzlaf tried to give the puck to Lindholm at the point, but the defenseman was unable to hold the puck in at the line. Couture skated past Lindholm on a breakaway, beating Andersen five-hole to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead at the 13:35 mark. That gave Couture ten goals and 21 points, putting him in sole possession of the team’s scoring lead.

The Sharks would make it 3-1 with a power-play of their own. Joe Pavelski sent the puck behind the net to Joe Thornton, and Lindholm went to cover him. However, Smith-Pelly and Josh Manson failed to cover Pavelski, who was open in front of the net. Thornton threaded a pass through the goal crease to Pavelski, who fired a shot past Andersen to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. The Ducks’ streak of 18 consecutive killed penalties ended at the 19:46 mark. Pavelski scored his tenth goal of the season as well, matching Couture, while Thornton scored his team-leading 14th assist and moved into a tie with Couture for the team’s scoring lead.

San Jose continued to pour it on, making it 4-1 in the second period. Couture won an offensive zone faceoff against Smith-Pelly, and Justin Braun controlled the puck. He gave the puck to Marleau, who hammered a shot on net. Tommy Wingels deflected the shot past Andersen at the 2:46 mark for his seventh goal of the season.

The rout was on when San Jose made it 5-1 at the 6:09 mark of the second. Josh Manson turned the puck over from behind his net, trying to clear the puck by banking it off the boards. Tomas Hertl swooped in and skated across the goal crease, putting a backhand past Andersen. That was it for Andersen, who allowed five goals on 19 shots in just over 26 minutes of action (11.54 GAA, .737 SV%). Jason LaBarbera would be in net for the rest of the night.

The Sharks had a decisive advantage on the night; the shots on goal were 20-6, San Jose, at one point. However, the Ducks would begin their comeback bid at the end of the second period. Corey Perry, who was separated from Getzlaf to start the game, passed the puck to Getzlaf as he was exiting the defensive zone. Getzlaf entered the offensive zone and threaded a backhanded pass to Perry, who deflected the puck past Niemi to cut the deficit to 5-2 with 1:08 left in the second period. Getzlaf and Perry had each only scored one goal and one assist apiece in their previous six games.

The Ducks would strike again to start the third period. The team had started a cycle in the offensive zone, and Cam Fowler got the puck to Getzlaf at the left wing half-wall. Getzlaf fired a shot into traffic, and it deflected off Perry and in to make it 5-3 just 29 seconds into the third period. Just like the first goal by Beleskey, this goal was scored through a wall of bodies: this time, Perry, Beleskey, Braun, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The goal gave Perry his 14th goal of the season, and the two points for Getzlaf and Perry matched their total output over the previous six games combined.

The Ducks were not finished, making the score 5-4 at the 4:20 mark. During a 4-on-4, Marleau tried to clear the puck out of the zone, but failed to do so, as Perry got a stick in. The puck came to Getzlaf, who skated in past Braun and fired a backhander over the shoulder of Niemi. That gave Getzlaf seven goals, and both Getzlaf and Perry recorded three point nights. This extended Getzlaf’s scoring lead to 22 points and his assist lead to 15.

A furious comeback would fall short, however. Manson was called for a hooking penalty with 2:24 left. LaBarbera went to the bench as Sami Vatanen went to the bench, but his drop pass found Wingels, who got the puck to Nieto. Nieto got the puck into the empty net for his second goal of the season with 49.2 seconds left, including his first since the October 8th season opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Wingels, who had a goal and ten shots on goal in the October 26th meeting, finished with four points, including a goal.

The effort at the end of the game was strong, but this wasn’t a game the Ducks deserved to win. The effort was awful to start: the Ducks, as referenced above, were being outshot 20-6 about midway through the second period. Shots finished 35-34, San Jose. The Ducks were also a mess on the power-play, going 0/5 and allowing a shorthanded goal. The Ducks also gave up five power-play opportunities, going 3/5 on the kill. The team can’t expect to win games when the effort isn’t there: the team has struggled to close out games when taking periods off. It took the Ducks almost two whole periods to settle into the game and start actually playing: even though the score was close at the end, the team made the climb that much harder on themselves. The defense was particularly bad, giving little support to Andersen, whose numbers suffered because of this game.

Here are my three stars of the game.