By Michael Walters
Rickard Rakell played in this game after a two-game absence and he made his presence felt early on as he scored to give the Ducks 1-0 lead. Shea Theodore took a shot, which Jones stopped leaving a rebound in front. Rakell jumped on the loose puck and shot it just under Jones’ left leg pad for the score. Antoine Vermette would make it a 2-0 lead later on. After receiving a pass from Theodore, Vermette fired the puck under Jones’ leg pad for the goal. On the very next face-off Joseph Cramarossa and Tommy Wingels dropped the gloves. Wingles looked to spark his team, but it was Cramarossa who had the upper hand dropping bombs throughout the bout. The Sharks did get on the board with a Brent Burns goal with only six seconds left in the period. The goal came one second after Rakell’s penalty expired. Ducks led 2-1 after the first 20 minutes.
In the middle frame, the Ducks had two power-play chances but couldn’t convert. Kevin Labanc tied the game for San Jose nearly halfway through the period. Logan Couture drew a crowd to one side of the net and then found Labanc alone in front for the game-tying score. Labanc received the pass and shot it at point blank range past a sprawling Bernier. The game remained tied after two periods. Ducks outshot the Sharks 9-8 in the period.
The final frame was a tight defensive battle with neither team getting many quality chances. Hampus Lindholm broke the tie with his first goal of the season. Lindholm took a pass from Nick Ritchie and then used Joel Ward as a screen, fooling Jones as the puck beat him just over his shoulder. In the final minutes, San Jose pulled Jones for the extra attacker. The Sharks couldn’t tie the game and in the last 30 seconds they were called for a penalty effectively ending the game.
It wasn’t the best effort by Anaheim, but it was enough to get the victory. Anaheim started flying out of the gate in the beginning building a 2-0 lead. The Ducks looked to be in control for most of the first period until a penalty by Rakell was called with just over two minutes left. San Jose scored very late in the period, which Carolina had done to Anaheim two nights ago in the opening period. In the second period, the Ducks had trouble making consecutive passes and another defensive breakdown led to the game-tying goal by San Jose. The Ducks did respond in the third period playing a tight checking defensive period pulling out the one goal victory.
The Ducks have had some defensive issues in their last three games. The blue line hasn’t been playing with as much grit lately. Korbinian Holzer hasn’t played a game since November 26th when Anaheim last played San Jose. Clayton Stoner has been out with an upper-body injury since November 15th. Anaheim has been playing mainly with four two-way defensemen (Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Shea Theodore, and Sami Vatanen). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be beneficial to see more grit defensively. If Holzer or Stoner don’t get in a game soon, then Kevin Bieksa and Josh Manson will have to pick up the slack. The Ducks will need it against the larger teams and stretch run this season.
Lindholm scored his first goal of the season. The Ducks are 9-0-0 in the 2016 year when Lindholm scores a goal.
The victory pushed Anaheim into a first place tie with the Edmonton Oilers. (Anaheim has two games in hand.)
The Ducks are back in action against the Ottawa Senators at Honda Center on Sunday for 1 PM PT start.
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