SAN JOSE If the Anaheim Ducks played the San Jose Sharks 82 times this season, they might not be among the NHLs bottom dwellers.
The Ducks beat the Sharks for the third time in three tries or, 30 percent of their 10 wins with a 3-2 victory at HP Pavilion on Monday night. Andrew Coglianos marker at 12:46 the second period broke a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner, as the Ducks survived a late charge by the Sharks in the third period.
While Coglianos goal was the difference, the game turned on a bad turnover by captain Joe Thornton early in the second period. The Sharks were dominating territorially with the score knotted at 1-1 before Thorntons blunder led to a breakaway marker by Bobby Ryan at 3:42.
Less than a minute before the goal, the Sharks forced the Ducks into a pair of icing calls that left a tired group of five on the ice for Anaheim, and coach Bruce Boudreau had to use his time out at 2:48.
But, San Jose squandered that energy.
The disappointing thing is we had a lot of momentum in the second period, to the point where they had to use their time out, Todd McLellan said. We had them pinned in their end, and then we turn it over, and it affected us. It really did. We didnt handle it well, and in my opinion they outworked us the last 13 or 14 minutes of the period.
Thornton said: I had so much time, and I just mishandled it at the end. I have to make a better decision at that point.
Jamie McGinn tied the game at 7:13 of the second with his eighth goal, firing a wrist shot into the top corner from the faceoff circle on a cross-ice feed by Justin Braun. But Coglianos soft wrister beat Antti Niemi inside the far post on the second of two goals the Sharks netminder should have stopped.
I have no idea what happened there, said Niemi. Id have to see it on tape to see what happened. Maybe I was too deep there, and I should have been more aggressive on the puck.
Niemi, making his 14th start in the last 15 games, also allowed a shot by Luca Sbisa to beat him at 2:27 of the first period to make it 1-0. It was the young defensemans first goal in 69 games as the puck fluttered awkwardly through the air.
It wasnt flying straight, so I think thats why it went in, Niemi said. I think it was kind of a knuckle-puck.
Still, the Sharks came on strong in the third period, and Niemis play improved, as well. He made a beautiful save on Niklas Hagman with 12 minutes left, robbing the Ducks winger with his left pad.
I thought Nemo made two or three incredible saves that kept us alive, McLellan said, but then, hell tell you that hed like to have a couple of them back. Its got to be a little frustrating for him and for us, as well.
San Joses best chances to tie it in the third came on its first power play of the night when Corey Perry high-sticked Dan Boyle with just 4:34 left in regulation. Patrick Marleau had a couple of good looks at the open net, but misfired on both.
Getting those chances, you think one is going to go in, but missing the net doesnt help, he said.
The Sharks got another power play with just 39 seconds left when Perry was called for slashing, but failed to get the equalizer on a six-on-four advantage with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker, losing for the first time in regulation since Dec. 10 (4-1-2).
Anaheim ended its road losing streak at 13 games, having dropped nine of those in regulation. The Ducks hadnt won away from the Honda Center since Oct. 27, but its their second victory on HP Pavilion ice this season. The Ducks have just three road wins total.
Even though they are buried in last place in the Pacific Division by 13 points, the Ducks seem to have the Sharks number. Theyll meet again three more times, with the next coming on Jan. 4 in Anaheim.
I think when we, meaning you guys and maybe even us a little bit, come into the game, we look at the record and say you know what? The Sharks will win. It doesnt just happen that way, he said. You have to go out and earn it. When I see Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, Cam Fowler, and some of those guys, it scares me as a coach because they have the ability to be a very dynamic team and very offensive team.
They were good enough tonight to win.
After Sbisas goal opened the scoring, Joe Pavelski tied it at 19:33 of the first period. Neither team was particularly sharp in the early going after the mandatory two days off for Christmas on Saturday and Sunday, though.
Pavelski agreed that the first period was a little disjointed on both sides.
Yeah, there were some plays that we havent done in the last four games. Just a lot of light plays," he said.
Hiller, who has struggled this season, entering with a goal-against average of 3.10, picked up his second win against San Jose including a 31-save, 1-0 shutout on Oct. 14. His best stop came with 5:21 left in second, when he got his pad on a chance by Marleau at the side of the net to preserve the Ducks 3-2 lead.
A pass by Ryane Clowe "went off of Hillers pad and I reached behind the goal line to get it," Marleau said. "I brought it back in towards the net and tried pulling it over, but he recovered and made a good save."
Hiller finished with 36 saves, while Niemi stopped 20 of 23.
Odds and ends: Dan Boyle had a team-high eight shots. Of the Sharks' 38 shots, 17 came from defensemen. Joe Pavelskis goal was just his second against Anaheim in 32 career games, the fewest he has against any Western Conference opponent. The Sharks conclude their six-game homestand on Wednesday against Vancouver. Its the first of two straight games against the Canucks, whom the Sharks visit on Jan. 2. Joe Thornton had a game-high five giveaways. ... The Sharks won the faceoff battle, 25-24.