ANAHEIM There was a strong sense entering the third period of last nights 3-1 Sharks loss to Anaheim that whoever got the next goal was going to triumph. Scoring chances were at a minimum on both sides of what was a pretty evenly played 1-1 match between two Pacific Division rivals after 40 minutes.
Teemu Selanne got the shaft of his stick on a blast by Luca Sbisa about five and a half minutes into the third period for what turned out to by the game-winner.
They did a good job getting it through to the net. You cant really blame a lot of people on it, Todd McLellan said of Selannes goal. Thats hockey, and thats the way it is.
There werent a lot of momentum swings. It was pretty evenly played. You had a feeling whoever was going to get that next one was going to hold a real distinct advantage. There werent a lot of chances either way.
Although Antti Niemi looked a bit shaky at times throughout the game, there was nothing he could do on Selannes goal. The velocity on the shot from Sbisa offered him no time to react to any sort of redirection.
If its a slower puck than you can read the situation more, but if its a slap shot you have to go there and react, Niemi said. You cant think its going to hit something.
Ducks own Sharks: Jonas Hiller, who made 28 saves in net, didnt hold back when asked about his teams success against the Sharks.
Its a rivalry, and it looks like we own them right now, Hiller said. Everybody is really motivated and we didnt want to eliminate ourselves. We are still trying to play good hockey. We dont want to just give up. That is what we did tonight, and that's why we won."
Anaheims 5-1-0 season mark against the Sharks is a new franchise record, eclipsing a 4-1-0 record vs. San Jose achieved in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
Bruce Boudreau was clearly pleased with Hillers performance, which included a highlight-reel glove save on Joe Pavelski with about five minutes left in the game.
Hes important every night. The save he made when it was 2-1 is what hes been doing since January, Boudreau said. When we have a chance, whether we are behind or not, he lets us have the opportunity to win. That is all you can ask a goalie to do.
Ducks roll four: According to Joe Thornton, the Sharks 1-5 record in their season series with Anaheim was due mainly to their inability to match them line-for-line.
Its probably their depth up front. Theyre a good four-line team, and thats probably been our Achilles heel. We havent been able to match a four-line game with them, said the captain.
Niemi said: Overall, theyre playing with four lines, and it wasnt easy to get in their zone.
The Sharks did, however, have their chances in this one, giving a much better effort than the 5-3 loss at home to the Ducks on March 19.
We played solid," Thornton. "Id like to see us finish a couple more chances. We competed hard, but weve got to get all four lines going. We played good against Colorado with all four lines, but to get in the playoffs were going to need all four.
Playoff chances take a hit: How much did the results of last nights games around the league hurt the Sharks playoff probability?
According to the math on sportsclubstats.com, the Sharks are down to a 64.2 percent chance to make it to the post season down 14.9 percent from Wednesday morning.
Calgary (4.7 percent) and Colorado (3.5 percent) have all but been eliminated, meaning there are four teams competing for three open spots.