The Sharks spoiled the Ducks ten game winning streak on Sunday evening, but they were not able to hand the Ducks their first regulation loss at home on Tuesday in front of a sell-out plus crowd. Anaheim's 6-3 victory maintained home domination (15-0-2) and was the first time in four games that they were able to defeat San Jose.
As they did on Sunday, the Sharks came out flying. Jonas Hiller, who now has a franchise best ninth win in a row with 33 saves, worked exceptionally hard to keep San Jose off the board in the first 20 minutes.
"I think Hilly won the game for us in the first period," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "They could’ve had a 5-1 lead at the end of one, and we end up leading 1-0. That’s the biggest part of the game."
Despite outshooting the Ducks 17-8, it was Anaheim who scored first. Kyle Palmieri tipped in a shot behind Antti Niemi at 16:24. Goals, not shots, matter. Make the ones you get count.
Were it not for the clock, the Sharks would have come out of the first period tied with Anaheim. On a late power play, San Jose missed the goal by about two one hundredths of a second. After a shot went behind Hiller through the crease, he could not stop the rebound, but it snuck across the line just a hair too late to count.
Not to be daunted by the clock, San Jose quickly picked up where they left off in the second period with Dan Boyle getting one that counted behind Hiller a mere :35 seconds into the middle frame.
Francois Beauchemin broke the logjam at 11:00 to restore the lead back to Anaheim once more. Logan Couture tied up the game for the last time at 12:35. After that, it was all Ducks.
"We came out the way we wanted to in the second period," Ryan Getzlaf said. "We just talked about standing around a little bit too much. When you play a team like that, that skates so well, if you stand and watch them, then they have the puck all night long. We came out in the second period, skated, hit a little bit more, and got some shots on the net."
Those shots started to go in. Nick Bonino got his 11th of the year at 14:59 on the power play. Then Matt Beleskey gave Anaheim a two goal lead at 18:30.
In the third period the scoring kept coming.
Getzlaf made sure everyone could go to Hooters for free chicken wings at 1:14, netting his 20th of the year. 5-2 Ducks. Hasta la vista to Niemi, who did not look pleased with his performance when he departed to the locker room and Alex Stalock took his place in net.
Stalock fared no better against the deluge from the Ducks. Andrew Cogliano, playing in his 500th straight game, added a short handed goal at 2:25 to pretty much put the game away.
"We weren’t playing our game plan," said Cogliano. "They took the play to us in the first, but I think we really turned that around in the second. We were really hard to play against. It was a good game, overall, for us. It was big to get a win at the end of the year, and go into the new year with fresh look."
A power play goal from Bracken Kearns, his second goal in as many games, at 3:16 was as close as the Sharks could get. The Ducks shut everything else down,
It’s definitely a great thing," said Hiller. "It’s more fun winning hockey games. You might have the best stats, but if you lose, it’s still not really fun. It’s been a lot of fun, especially the whole month of December."
The Ducks, getting a bit more home cooking, will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night, hoping January will be every bit as nice as December.
IN OTHER NOTES:
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy made a heroic save at 2:20 in the third period by diving in front of his own net. Lovejoy, who welcomed his first child, Lila, earlier that morning, was sleep deprived, but running on adrenaline.
"I think Ben stopping that puck in the empty net was a big momentum boost," Boudreau said.
The Ducks hit the New Year with the top record in the NHL at 29-8-5 (63 points). This marks the club’s best record ever through 42 games (previous best was 28-8-6, 62 points in 2006-07).
The Ducks are now 15-0-2 at Honda Center this year, becoming the third NHL team in 25 years to start a season with a home standings point streak of 17 games or-more. The two others are San Jose (20-0-2 in 2008-09) and Calgary (unbeaten streak of 14-0-3 in 1988-89). The Ducks’ streak is also their longest home standings point streak in club history at ANY point during a season (previous best was 14 games).
*Elias Sports Bureau
This also just the second time in club history the Ducks have won 11 (or more) games in a 12 game stretch (11-1-0). The only other time was Feb. 5 – Mar. 3, 2008 (also 11-1-0). Anaheim went 11-1-1 this month, the best December in club history and matching the team record for the most wins in ANY month (set three times previously). The Ducks also have points in 14 of their last 15 games (12-1-2).
Before Hiller, the last NHL netminder to win nine+ consecutive starts was Ray Emery (Chicago) who won 10 straight starts last season from Jan. 20 – Mar. 6, 2013.
Andrew Cogliano is the FIFTH player in NHL history and FIRST since Doug Jarvis to play 500 straight NHL games from the start of his NHL career*. After leaving the University of Michigan and joining the Edmonton Oilers, Cogliano played his first NHL game in Edmonton’s season opener on Oct. 4, 2007 vs. San Jose. He has not missed a game since. Jarvis is the NHL’s all-time “Ironman” with 964 consecutive NHL games played (1975-88).
"There’s really not much to say," Cogliano said. "A lot of it has to do with luck. I do think I take care of myself off the ice in the summers. I’ve been lucky enough to do that. It’s a proud moment for me. As a young kid, to be an NHL player and have a start like that is something special. It’s something I’ll always remember."