Let us pause now for a moment of silence as the Ducks winning streak has officially died at 10 games…..
Ok, now what the heck happened?
A team that looked invincible and able to come back from all sorts of odds just looked pedestrian and beatable in a 3-1 loss to San Jose.
The Sharks scouted Anaheim well and knew exactly how to counter them. And they executed their plan perfectly. The Ducks game plan? Not so much.
Anaheim had not lost since December 3, and had not failed to win at least a point in a game since November 26. You knew the streak would not last forever, but you sure wish it had ended on a nicer note.
Even though the Ducks are still at the top of the NHL standings (tied with Chicago at 61 points), the Sharks are breathing down their necks, second in the Pacific Division with 56 points.
The Sharks came out with energy and a vengeance and Brent Burns put the Sharks on the board at 1:17 into the game. Logan Couture got his 100th career goal at 10:07 to give the Sharks a two goal lead. Couture, who had not scored in 11 games, looked relieved to finally get one in.
"We knew what they were going to do," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "We didnt meet their push."
Instead, the Sharks kept pushing and Bracken Kearns (that's a name you can't make up) scored his first career goal at 9:15 of the second period. Kearns, 32, has spent most of his playing career in the AHL, and this was only his eighth NHL game. Special for him. Not so special for the Ducks.
It really was not Frederik Andersen's fault. Andersen, who gave Jonas Hiller the night off in the second of back-to-back games, made 20 saves. It was only Andersen's second loss in 11 games. His teammates did not do what they were supposed to do.
The Ducks persevered and looked to have a goal from Mathieu Perreault, but the referee had blown the play dead before the puck crossed the line behind Antti Niemi. Realizing that Niemi, who made 30 saves, was beatable, the Ducks continued to put forth better effort and finally Patrick Maroon ended Niemi's bid for a shutout at 11:32.
"(Niemi) gave out rebounds everywhere tonight," said Maroon. "We just need to pick up the pucks, crash the net more, and use our size. Once we started hitting their defense, pucks were getting loose and hitting their sticks. I thought we did a good job of that, but it was a little too late for us."
Too little, too late and credit the Sharks for doing an outstanding job shutting down the Ducks for most of the game and protecting their lead.
"I don’t think we were getting the bounces tonight," said Maroon. "But that happens when you’re on a winning streak like that. We have Tuesday to bounce back against them. That’s the jury of the game. I thought we finished strong."
Anaheim will get a third chance to defeat the Sharks when they play them on New Year's Eve. Both games against the Sharks have been in San Jose. This time they will be at home. Where they are 14-0-2. They need to be ready this time, or San Jose could hand the Ducks another end to a nice streak.