Even in a game where it felt like the Anaheim Ducks did just about everything right, it still wasn’t enough.
Things got off to a bizarre start for the Ducks, who unexpectedly announced that Sami Vatanen would not be in the lineup just minutes before puck drop. That forced head coach Randy Carlyle to dress Shea Theodore while bumping up Korbinian Holzer to the first pairing alongside Cam Fowler. Not exactly ideal circumstances.
Anaheim seemed unfazed in light of the news, compiling two extremely solid periods from seemingly every standpoint.
Voracious on the penalty kill and tenacious at five on five, it felt as though the Ducks had greatly benefitted from the holiday break. A gutsy goal from Ondrej Kase wasn’t enough to overcome two bizarre Sharks’ goals going into the third period.
It seemed like Anaheim was headed for another frustrating finish until Jakob Silfverberg broke the tie 13:35 into the third period, which electrified the Honda Center crowd and propelled the game into overtime.
Ultimately, it was all for naught. Though Anaheim caved in San Jose with a 60 to 35 shot attempt advantage at even strength, they couldn’t get enough big saves from Gibson to truly capitalize on that disparity. Martin Jones, on the other hand, turned aside 34 of 36 shots for the Sharks, carrying them to victory.
If Gibson didn’t know the spotlight was on him, he sure didn’t shy away from it in the early going, stoning none other than Sharks’ captain Joe Pavelski on a wide open chance in the slot. It was a signature save for the 23-year old, who got into the splits to seal away the bottom of the ice.
After a missed opportunity on a wide open cage by Ondrej Kase, Paul Martin fired home the first goal of the game on an empty net just 6:30 into the period. It was a contentious play from an Anaheim perspective, as Logan Couture crashed into Gibson, leaving the net wide open for Martin. The Ducks’ coaching staff thought better of it, however, opting not to challenge the play after seeing that Nick Ritchie essentially shoved Couture right into Gibson.
The Ducks stormed back after the lone goal of the period, more than doubling the Sharks’ shot total by a 14 to 6 count. Anaheim dominated the shot attempt battle, once again nearly doubling up San Jose with a 27 to 14 total. Ryan Kesler’s line had a large hand in that, controlling the puck down low in the Sharks’ zone.
A late penalty to Jakob Silfverberg in the first period couldn’t deter the Ducks, who fought off an early Sharks’ power play on a fresh sheet of ice. Theodore didn’t do himself any favors when he shoved Micheal Haley from behind to send San Jose on another power play just minutes later.
The 20-year old staved off finding himself further into Carlyle’s dog house as the Ducks managed another big kill to start the period. That momentum eventually translated into a Kase goal at 8:22 in a uniquely Kase fashion. After keeping the play in the Sharks’ zone, Kase bolted to the net and buried home a loose puck. Not too shabby for a 205th overall pick.
Yet all that goodwill was nullified when a seemingly harmless bouncing puck from Joel Ward was tipped by Melker Karlsson into the Anaheim net at 14:18, fooling Gibson after an ever-so-slight redirection. Instead of having a deflating effect, Ryan Getzlaf’s line quickly responded with a strong offensive shift. The Ducks ended the period with a dominant 23 to 11 shot attempt margin at even strength, yet still trailed by one heading into the third.
The third act began much in the same for Anaheim, as they controlled play for the first four minutes of the period. Puck movement was crisp, as Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler made some deft passes to exit the defensive zone. Yet once again they failed to convert, with Gibson needing to come up big a number of times soon after, keeping the game close.
Looking for a spark, Carlyle reunited Ritchie on the top line with Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Ritchie had been especially good with Anaheim’s two stars early in the season, posting some dominant possession numbers in the early going.
It turns out Carlyle didn’t really have to worry about that line. After two periods of excellent hockey, the Kesler line cashed in on a tip from Jakob Silfverberg. The timeliness of the goal couldn’t have been much better, as it tied the game at 13:35 in the third. They kept the pressure on immediately after, generating a wide-open wrist shot in the slot off the rush. Gibson came up with a couple of key stops to keep the game close heading into overtime.
The Sharks controlled the puck off the opening draw, with the upstart Kevin Labanc quickly generating a scoring chance. Getzlaf had a chance to take a wide-open shot from the slot just minutes later but predictably opted for the pass.
That decision may have ultimately cost the Ducks, as the Sharks quickly struck back with a chance of their own. Fowler let a pass from Pavelski go right through his skates to a streaking Brent Burns who buried home the game winner.
SJS – Paul Martin (3) assisted by Mikkel Boedker and Kevin Labanc
ANA – Ondrej Kase (2) assisted by Nick Ritchie and Antoine Vermette
SJS – Melker Karlsson (4) assisted by Joel Ward and Brent Burns
ANA – Jakob Silfverberg (10) assisted by Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano
SJS – Brent Burns (14) assisted by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton
THW Three Stars
First: Martin Jones (34 saves on 36 shots)
Second: Brent Burns (game winning goal)
Third: Ryan Kesler (assist, 65 percent Corsi)
Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames
Scotiabank Saddledome – 6:00 p.m. PST on Friday, December 30
Broadcast Channels: Prime Ticket
2016-17 Season Series: December 4 – Anaheim (3) at Calgary (8)
November 6 –CAlgary (1) at Anaheim (4)
Philadelphia Flyers at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 5:00 p.m. PST on Sunday, January 1
Broadcast Channels: NHLN
2016-17 Season Series: October 20 – Anaheim (3) at Philadelphia (2)