All that is left of the Ducks season is the ability to be a spoiler. Anaheim certainly played that role well in a 5-3 defeat of San Jose, leaving Sharks fans even less enamored of their Southern California division rivals. Having won all three games in San Jose, the Ducks wish they could have played there more often this year.
The Ducks had played the previous day, giving up a 1-0 lead to Nashville in the third period to lose 3-1. Clearly the Ducks wanted to rectify their errors.
They also finally decided to give Jonas Hiller a day off. After starting 32 games in a row, Hiller got to sit on the bench for the first time since January 10. Jeff Deslauriers actually had something to do other than stand in net during practice.
Deslauriers, getting only his second start of the season, performed admirably. He stopped 27 of 30 shots and got a well deserved win.
“J.D. did what he needed to do tonight,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “He made some stops at some key times and got a little active in the net. It was nice to see. He works in practice like no other. He’s taken a lot of heat the last little while for shots in practice, but we were proud of him tonight.”
The game went back and forth in the begining. Martin Havlat scored the first goal for the Sharks on the power play at 6:24 of the first period. The Ducks responded with a goal from Bobby Ryan at 7:15 to tie things up.
San Jose retook the lead at 9:20 with a goal from Ryan Clowe, but that was the last lead they would have.
“It was frustrating,” said Clowe. “It was just a lack of intensity. It looked like we came out pretty good and then it was just disappointing to have the opportunity we had tonight to take a lead in our division and move into third place. That’s a great opportunity. You just shake your head a little bit and wonder what happened.”
What happened was the Ducks offense.
Francois Beauchemin chipped in his eighth of the year at 17:52 on the power play. The Ducks took off after that.
Goals in the second period by Corey Perry, just :56 seconds in, and defenseman Nate Guenin with his second of the year at 9:59. After Guenin’s tally, that was it for Antti Niemi in net. Thomas Greiss finished off the rest of the way, but being down 4-2, the Sharks could not rebound.
Joe Pavelski brought the Sharks back within a goal at 17:29, but Anaheim stopped any momentum gained by putting the puck behind Greiss just :33 seconds later.
While there was no more scoring in the final period, the damage had already been done. The Ducks could head back home happy little campers. At least until they looked at the standings and reminded themselves that it will only take a few more points in either direction to officially mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention. ‘
For now, playing for pride is sufficient. Let us hope they can take that effort into Wednesday night’s game at home against the St. Louis Blues, who lead the entire NHL in points and know for a fact, they are playing at least a couple more weeks in April than the Ducks.
IN OTHER NOTES: Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman were both healthy scratches for Anaheim. Toni Lydman missed his second game with an upper body injury as yet to be identified. Nick Bonino, who was drafted by the Sharks but never played a game for them, had three assists in the Ducks victory.