Instant Replay: Ducks beat Sharks, claim Pacific Division

Instant Replay: Ducks beat Sharks, claim Pacific Division
April 9, 2014, 9:45 pm
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Ducks' Matt Beleskey (39) celebrates with Ryan Getzlaf (15) after scoring a goal in the second period as Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan (27) reacts. (USATSI)


ANAHEIM – The Pacific Division race is over, and the Ducks have prevailed.

Patrick Maroon scored twice and Antti Niemi was given the hook in the second period as Anaheim claimed 5-2 win over the Sharks on Wednesday night at Honda Center. The Ducks moved five points ahead of the Sharks with two games remaining for both clubs, to clinch their second straight division title.

The result ensures a Sharks-Kings first round playoff series, with the first two games at SAP Center next week.

The Ducks scored three times in the second period to jump out to a 4-2 lead, including two against Niemi, who was not on his game and was yanked in favor of Alex Stalock halfway through regulation.

Anaheim took its first lead on Maroon’s wraparound marker at 3:32. Teemu Selanne tipped the puck to him behind the net, and the big forward tucked it inside the post before Niemi could shift fully from his right to his left.

The Sharks tied it thanks to a Francois Beauchemin turnover, as Logan Couture aimed a perfect wrist shot from the far boards over John Gibson’s shoulder at 7:23, but Maroon’s second a little more than two minutes later restored the Ducks’ lead. Maroon slapped in a Selanne dish at 9:35, ending Niemi’s night.

The goalie change didn’t do much to spark the Sharks, though, and Anaheim made it a two-goal lead when Matt Beleskey dragged a rebound past a diving Brent Burns and found the short side at 16:46.

The Ducks upped their record to 39-1-2 when leading after two periods. In the third, they were content clearing the zone and not allowing the Sharks any prime scoring chances, while Gibson made 36 saves. The 20-year-old rookie, making his second straight start, upper his career record to 2-0.

Jakob Silfverberg’s empty net, shorthanded goal with Stalock pulled for an extra attacker capped the scoring at 18:22.

Jason Demers’ fifth goal gave the Sharks the first period lead. He took a few strides from the point to the faceoff dot, and slid a low wrist shot past Gibson at 18:17.

Anaheim tied it on Corey Perry’s 43rd goal, with less than three seconds to go in the period. He drove towards the net to the outside with Justin Braun defending, and somehow managed to sneak the puck through Niemi with one hand on a soft attempt the Sharks’ goaltender should have handled.

The Sharks won all three games against Anaheim at home, but lost both matches at Honda Center. Overall, San Jose has lost five of its last six here (1-5-0).

Special teams
The Sharks took an 0-for-5 on the power play, which did not look very good other than Dan Boyle hitting the post and Joe Thornton firing the rebound just wide in the first period. San Jose took a 1-0 lead shortly after that.

Anaheim, which entered with the league’s 22nd ranked power play, was 0-for-3.

In goal
Niemi allowed three goals on 19 shots before he was pulled. Stalock allowed only Beleskey’s goal in the second period, and made nine saves.

Gibson, who made 18 stops in shutting out Vancouver in his first career game on Sunday, got the call ahead of Jonas Hiller. Frederik Andersen remains out with an upper body injury but is reportedly close to a return.

Bracken Kearns was recalled from Worcester on Tuesday, and was inserted into the lineup for Marty Havlat. Scott Hannan played ahead of defenseman Matt Irwin.

Anaheim’s Cam Fowler returned from a 12-game absence with a knee injury.

Up next
The Sharks conclude the home schedule on Friday against Colorado, and visit Phoenix to close the regular season on Saturday.