ANAHEIM – The Sharks ended their road trip on a high note in Anaheim, claiming a 5-3 win and holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the process on Monday night at Honda Center.
A couple of Sharks that have had terrible trouble putting the puck in the net, and are counted on to produce, scored to helped San Jose jump out to a 3-0 lead.
First it was Joe Pavelski, who entered with just one goal in his last 18 games. Corey Perry was too casual with the puck in the defensive zone, and was quickly pressured in the circle by James Sheppard. The puck squirted to Pavelski in the slot, who turned around and lifted it past Viktor Fasth at 7:10 to make it 2-0, Sharks.
The goal was also Pavelski’s first point in nine games, the longest he’s gone in his career without getting on the scoresheet.
Early in the second, Marty Havlat, who assisted on Brent Burns’ goal at 5:46 of the first to open the scoring, ended a 15-game goalless drought. Fasth kicked a big rebound of a point shot by Matt Irwin to the slot, where Havlat slid it in just 34 seconds after the faceoff to end the second-longest dry spell of his career.
The Ducks, who entered with back-to-back losses for the first time this season, both at home to Detroit, didn’t go away, cutting into the lead on a goal by Emerson Etem. The Long Beach, Ca. native drove the net and lost control of the puck, but it went off of Brad Stuart and behind Antti Niemi at 8:16.
Early in the third, Francois Beauchemin’s wrist shot from the slot less than a minute in brought the Ducks to within one.
The Sharks regained their two-goal lead from a surprising source, though. Sheppard, who missed two complete seasons with a knee injury, scored his first of the season on a shot from high in the zone at 10:04. It was Sheppard’s first goal since Dec. 11, 2009, when he was still with Minnesota.
It turned out to be the game-winner, as Perry scored with 1:40 to go after Jason Demers turned the puck over deep in the defensive zone to Bobby Ryan. Dan Boyle’s empty-net goal with 27.7 seconds left on a wrist shot from his own blue line sealed the win for the Sharks.
San Jose ended 2-3-0 on its five-game trip, improving to 6-10-2 overall away from home.
Skating on the top line with Burns and Joe Thornton, Havlat set up Burns to make it 1-0. Thornton dashed in on an aggressive forecheck and beat Bryan Allen to the puck behind the Anaheim net, pushing it to Havlat on the other side. Havlat quickly dished to Burns, for the defenseman-turned-forward’s third goal.
Burns registered an assist on Havlat’s goal, too, and has three goals and five assists in seven games since switching positions.
The Sharks had multiple chances to get their fourth goal during the second period, including a partial breakaway by Burns and a full breakaway by Sheppard. Fasth stopped them both.
San Jose fired 39 shots on goal, and improved to 7-1-1 when registering at least 36 shots. The Sharks are 8-2-1 when scoring at least three goals.
Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray was traded earlier in the day to Pittsburgh in exchange for a pair of draft picks.
This was the fourth of five meetings between the Sharks and Ducks, who will meet again at HP Pavilion on Wednesday. The Sharks are 2-2-0 in the four games.
The Sharks finished 0-for-5 with a man advantage. An apparent goal by Logan Couture goal waved off with 12:04 left in third, as the referee ruled it was deflected in with a high stick.
San Jose was shorthanded just twice, and killed off both Ducks power plays.
Niemi started for the 18th time in the last 19 games, and made 24 saves.
Fasth allowed at least three goals for the fourth time in his last five starts. The rookie allowed four goals on 38 shots.
Alex Stalock remained Niemi’s backup, although Thomas Greiss (sore neck) has started practicing again. Greiss is not expected to be ready at any point in the coming week, though.
Ryane Clowe missed his fourth straight game with a shoulder injury. On defense, Justin Braun took the place vacated by the departed Murray after sitting the last three games.
The Sharks begin a season-long seven-game homestand against the Ducks on Wednesday. They’ll host the Red Wings, Coyotes, Canucks, Wild, Flames and Stars before hitting the road again on April 9 in Columbus.