SAN JOSE – Brent Burns set up the game-tying goal, scored the winning goal, and threw in a thunderous hit of Anaheim’s Corey Perry in between for good measure in the Sharks’ 3-2 win over Anaheim on Thursday night at SAP Center.
San Jose jumped ahead of the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division, with 99 points to Anaheim’s 97. The Ducks have played one fewer game. It’s the first time the Sharks have been alone in first place since Dec. 6, and they once trailed the Ducks by 13 points in mid-January.
Knotted at 1-1 after two periods, the teams traded scores in the third.
Anaheim took its first lead less than two minutes into the final frame. Jason Demers played the puck up the wall to Marty Havlat, who was pressured into a turnover by Ryan Getzlaf. The puck ended up on Corey Perry’s stick, and his shot went in off of Teemu Selanne at 1:42.
Burns, the Sharks’ best player all night, helped generate the second goal after Pavelski chipped it ahead to him in the neutral zone. His low saucer towards Frederik Anderson rebounded to Joe Thornton, who easily tallied the equalizer at 8:11.
Soon after that, Burns drilled Perry with a butt-check that seemed to shake up Perry along the wall. A scrum ensued, and helped elevate the nasty tone that was evident throughout the game between the two rivals.
The game-winner came when Burns got his stick on a centering pass from Thornton at 16:01, his 20th of the season. Anaheim swarmed the Sharks' zone late in the game, but couldn't force overtime.
A pair of struggling power play units each found the net to make it 1-1.
Patrick Marleau’s 29th goal got it started. The winger placed a the top, near corner shot perfectly over the shoulder of Anderson a split second after receiving a pass from behind the net by Thornton at 13:52 of the first period.
Anaheim didn’t get its first power play until there was less than five minutes to go in the second, when Logan Couture was whistled for tripping Selanne. The 43-year-old Ducks winger drew another penalty with six seconds to go on Couture’s minor, when he was interfered with by Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Despite having just nine shots on goal to that point, Anaheim tied it. While Couture was leaving the box and scrambling to get back into the defensive zone, Mathieu Perreault plopped in the rebound of Perry shot at 17:40.
The Sharks had several chances to increase their lead before Perreault’s goal. Burns hit the crossbar with 4:40 to go in the first period on a rush with Joe Pavelski, was stopped on a partial breakaway a little more than six minutes into the second, and Marleau ripped one high over the net on a two-on-one with Couture just before Couture’s tripping penalty on Selanne.
The Sharks and Ducks meet for the final time on April 9, in the 80th of 82 games for both clubs.
The two clubs entered with ice-cold power plays. The Sharks were four for their last 65 before Marleau’s goal, while Anaheim brought a 2-for-48 stretch into the match. The Sharks finished 1-for-3, and Anaheim was 1-for-2.
Thornton recorded his first power play point since Jan. 20 vs. Calgary.
Niemi picked up his 35th win, needing just 16 saves. He took over the NHL league lead in victories.
Anderson has started three of the last six games for Anaheim, and fell to 16-5-0 with 25 saves.
Mike Brown returned in place of Tyler Kennedy. Brown was a healthy scratch the previous three games. Raffi Torres missed his sixth straight game.
Anaheim was forced to ice a depleted lineup that included AHL call-ups Emerson Etem and Rickard Rackell. Matt Beleskey (illness), Nick Bonino (foot) and Kyle Palmieri (undisclosed) were all out, and it was recently revealed that defenseman Cam Fowler would miss the next three-to-five weeks (sprained knee).
The Sharks close out a three-game homestand with Washington on Saturday, in what will be their final meeting with an Eastern Conference opponent. They visit Calgary and Edmonton next Monday and Tuesday.
San Jose has 11 games remaining on its schedule; six at home and five on the road.