Thank you Santa!
It had been two long months without a road win (the last being October 27 against the Minnesota Wild). But a 3-2 victory ended that long nightmare. It also was win #10 on the season, finally, which leaves Columbus as the only team still in single digits in the win column.
On the other hand, three of those ten victories are against the Sharks. There are only three more games against San Jose. The Ducks are going to have to figure out how to win against other teams as well.
The Ducks started out well and got on the board first. Luca Sbisa got his first goal of the year at 2:27. George Parros got the puck back to Sbisa at the blue line. Sbisa ripped it past Antti Niemi, who seemed to be caught off guard by the shot.
1-0 Ducks and a promising beginning. The Ducks have had promising starts before, only to turn around and get on the losing side of things. In this one, they stayed neck and neck with San Jose.
The Sharks tied up the game late in the first period. Joe Pavelski put a puck past Jonas Hiller at 19:33. That eliminated the chance that the Ducks could go to the locker room with a rare lead.
San Jose came out with a vengeance in the second period and played virtually the first four minutes in Anaheim's end. One turnover by Joe Thornton spoiled the Sharks momentum. Bobby Ryan stole the puck and took off down the ice towards Niemi, unimpeded by anyone in a teal blue uniform. Ryan neatly roofed the puck behind Niemi, giving the Ducks the lead once more.
"There were a couple of bad turnovers," Thornton observed after the game. "Mine in the second was pretty bad. Those kinds of things are going to cost you games. You hear it all the time. It's a 3-2 League and we just couldn't get the third goal.
Jamie McGinn knotted up the game at 2-2 with a goal at 7:13. Hiller had no chance, but the Ducks persisted, despite being outshot by San Jose 38 - 23. Andrew Cogliano, taking a nice pass from Matt Beleskey, gave Anaheim the lead for the third and final time at 12:46.
San Jose threw everything they had at Hiller in the third period, but Hiller stood firm. Even with the goaltender pulled and a 6 on 4 opportunity due to a late power play chance, the Sharks could not force the game into overtime.
For whatever reason, the Ducks have not had difficulty with San Jose this year. If only they could have that success against other teams.
“It’s nice to get one on the road, finally, because we were long overdue,” said Ryan. “It’s been a long time. Obviously it’s frustrating. We had some road trips that we just fell apart on. Had leads and blew. It’s tough when you don’t feel good about yourself going into every building. Hopefully this is a jump start and something moving forward."
Moving forward would be getting two wins in a row. Something the Ducks have not accomplished since the beginning of the season. Vancouver? Thursday?
IN OTHER NOTES: Devante Smith-Pelly, loaned to Team Canada for the World Juniors, blocked a shot with his foot in the first game of the tournament and will be out 4 - 6 weeks with a broken metatarsal bone. Jean-Francois Jacques was recalled (again) from Syracuse and had good chemistry with Parros on the fourth line.