Three losses in three games to Anaheim. You knew the Sharks were not going to lose all six contests this season. Ducks fans could hope, but you knew San Jose was going to figure it out eventually.
San Jose figured it out on Wednesday night at the Honda Center in a 3-1 defeat of Anaheim.
Things started off as they have the past several games against the Sharks. The Ducks got out to an early lead and looked strong. Corey Perry’s goal at 2:37 of the first period got the Ducks on the board and the hopes up of the crowd for a rare Anaheim victory.
They should have known they were in trouble when the Sharks outshot them 12-3 in the first. Sure, one of those three shots went in, but that kind of effort is only going to lead to trouble down the road.
Trouble did not happen until late in the second period, but :27 seconds was all it took to derail Anaheim and ensure that San Jose would get two points.
The Ducks had a great chance at making things 2-0, but Antti Niemi stopped Bobby Ryan cold. Ryan undressed three Sharks defenders, had a little spinorama move but was denied by the netminder.
Instead, on the next shift Brad Winchester, who spent a brief time in a Ducks uniform last season, put the puck off the pipe and in behind Jonas Hiller. OK, the game is tied. It isn’t too bad.
Just :27 seconds later, at 16:50, Benn Ferreiro puts one in the net as well and the Sharks have a 2-1 lead. Same old story with a defeated Ducks team incapable of responding or believing they have any chance at all to recover.
“We realized it’s very, very difficult to score on this guy,” said Joe Thornton about Hiller, who has won the past five consecutive games against San Jose. “That first one by him got us some confidence. I don’t know if it was 30 seconds after but we bang another one in. Huge momentum swing for us.”
The Ducks came out better in the third period. They outshot San Jose and more than doubled their shots on goal in the first two periods combined.
The result of their efforts? Zip, zero, nada. Niemi stood strong, no matter what came his way. Apparently he has learned from the previous matches this season.
Joe Pavelski made it 3-1 at 12:43 and that all but sealed the deal for San Jose.
Ryan summed up the Ducks dilemma succinctly.
“There’s just no resiliency. When they get the first one, obviously you get down, but that shift that follows up has to be the best shift of the game. It has to be the hardest working to not let the momentum swing in their direction. We went out and got outplayed in the shift after … It just continues to keep happening.”
And it will continue to happen unless the Ducks finally figure it out. Chances of that happening seem to be fewer than those of a snowball’s chance in hell.
GM Bob Murray has threatened to move every single player on the team not named Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They have no trade clauses in their contracts or else they would have for sale stickers on their heads as well.
The question is, if you don’t change virtually all the personnel, will it make any difference?
IN OTHER NOTES: Jason Blake returned to the line up after missing 34 games with a lacerated forearm. His last game? Against the Sharks. Andrew Gordon and Matt Smaby were put on waivers, with the intentions of sending them to Syracuse if they clear. Poor Gordon knows the AHL well. Coach Bruce Boudreau sent him there regularly. Looks like that hasn’t changed.