ANAHEIM For the first half of the game, it looked like a carbon copy of recent Sharks-Ducks games in which Anaheim came out on top.
A bad turnover leading to a goal-against Antti Niemi. Plenty of Sharks shots on net, but nothing to show for it. A power play that couldnt sustain any pressure.
But when Brad Winchesters goal at 16:23 of the second period tied the game at 1-1, the Sharks used the momentum from that marker in helping them to a 3-1 win at Honda Center in what was their first in four tries against their in-state rivals.
The Sharks have gotten points in nine of their last 10 games (6-1-3), and are back in the Pacific Division lead after sweeping a mini two-game road trip that began on Monday in Vancouver. And, it feels good to finally get a win against the team that sits 29th out of 30 in the NHL standings.
You guys (the media) have been beating us the last couple days, Joe Thornton said.
Winchester was an unlikely candidate to get things started against Jonas Hiller, as the winger had just three goals this season. His perfectly placed wrist shot came after Jamie McGinn found him with a long outlet pass from the San Jose zone.
Once I kind of saw it was turned over, I was able to generate some speed up the wing and McGinn made a really nice pass, he said. I felt the D closing, and was just able to get it off.
It sailed over Hillers left shoulder to the far side, ringing off the inside of the post.
Just 27 seconds later, Benn Ferriero gave the Sharks their first lead. The play began with a point shot by Dan Boyle that didnt get through, and another attempt by Logan Couture from the slot that was knocked down in front of the net. Ferriero managed to find the loose puck before Hiller did.
I got underneath the d-mans stick and buried it, Ferriero said.
It was Ferrieros second goal in as many games, third since being recalled from Worcester on Dec. 20, and held up as the game-winner.
McLellan praised the young Ferriero after the game.
Bennys been a tool thats moved from line to line, for whatever reason, whether were matching or just how the game is going, and hes been able to adapt really well with different linemates, said the head coach. Hes taking advantage of his opportunity, and making good on it.
The Ducks pushed hard to start the third period looking for the equalizer. On a delayed penalty to Douglas Murray, Corey Perry hit the outside of the post, and on the ensuing power play a blast by Lubomir Visnovsky hit Niemi and bounced over the goaltender towards the open net before it was cleared by an attentive Boyle.
Thornton made a pair of key plays, too. First, towards the end of the penalty on Murray, Thornton got the end of his stick on a cross-ice pass from Cam Fowler, who was trying to set up an open point shot.
Moments later, Thornton skated up the wing with the puck after picking it up at the red line. The captain had time to wind up on Hiller for a blast from the top of the circle, and although the Ducks goalie made the stop, he was slow to react to the rebound and a changing Joe Pavelski flipped it in at 12:43 for insurance.
Thornton explained both.
I just saw Fowlers eyes going that way and just poked it out," he said of his play on the PK. "The shot, I just tried to pound it. They always say shoot the puck, so I did, and Pav just made a good play beating their defenseman and tapping it in.
Its been an inconsistent season for Thornton, but McLellan liked what he saw against Anaheim.
I thought Jumbo skated tonight. He had his legs going. We didnt see the turnovers that weve seen over the last little bit, and thats because he had his legs moving, McLellan said. Shot the puck, created a goal, smart defensively on the penalty kill, good stick, pretty good in the faceoff circle. Thats the type of game he needs to play, and when he plays that way, the offensive points come.
Late in the game, Sharks defenseman Jason Demers was the recipient of a blindside hit by Bobby Ryan, resulting in a boarding penalty to the Ducks forward at 17:30. Demers appeared to have his back to Ryan the whole time, and had his head driven into the boards from behind.
Demers said he felt fine after the game, and didnt have any ill will towards Ryan, who is not known as a dirty player.
I thought I had him beat and I guess he just read where I was going. I kind of turned into it. He finished his check. You could say my back was turned to him, but listen, plays happen quick. Im sure that wasnt his intention. Its all fine now, Demers said.
The game didnt start well for the Sharks. The Ducks took a 1-0 lead early in the first on Perrys 15th goal. Patrick Marleau tried to clear the puck out of the zone off of the glass, and Andrew Cogliano intercepted it and found Perry alone in front of the net. A quick deke beat Niemi at 2:37.
The goal came seconds after an ineffective Sharks power play expired with Cogliano off on a hold just 22 seconds after the opening face off. The coach was not happy.
When you have a power play plan and youre 22 seconds into the game, and they somehow forgot between the meeting and the 22 seconds that we played, theyre showing you that theyre not ready to go, McLellan said. That was disappointing, and Anaheim scored right away.
"Not a little frustration, a lot of frustration. A little barking on the bench and we settled in after that.
Anaheim had a great chance to increase that lead later on, when Winchester was given a double-minor for high-sticking Visnovsky at 16:34. San Joses improving penalty kill didnt allow the Ducks a single shot during that span, which carried over into the start of the second.
It was the second straight clutch effort on the PK, after San Jose killed a lengthy two-man advantage against Vancouver in Mondays 3-2 shootout win.
McLellan said of the penalty kill: Were starting to figure it out. We like how the players are rolling out and the order that theyre going out in. Our clearing attempts are a lot better, so theres a lot of good things on the penalty kill. Now, weve got to fix the power play.
San Jose outshot the Ducks for the game, 36-27. Niemi, making his 17th start in the last 18 games, made 26 saves to record his 17th win of the year.
The Sharks return home to play the Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Odds and ends: Torrey Mitchell played just 7:04. Jim Vandermeer, Colin White, Frazer McLaren and Antero Niittymaki were the Sharks scratches. Anaheims Jason Blake returned after a 34 game absence after he was stepped on by San Joses Brent Burns on Oct. 14, causing a sever laceration above his left wrist. The Sharks had 18 blocked shots to the Ducks 11. San Jose won the faceoff battle, 27-24. Patrick Marleau and Corry Perry had a game-high seven shots. Each team was 0-for-4 on the power play.