The San Jose Sharks (25-8-6, 56 points) defeated the Anaheim Ducks (28-8-5, 61 points) by the final score of 3-1 in the first half of a home-and-home series. This Sharks win snaps Anaheim’s 10-game winning streak and sets up a great second game on New Year’s Eve in Anaheim.
Sunday evening’s contest featured yet another injury for the Sharks who lost Tommy Wingels early on in the first period. His injury occurred when he went awkwardly into the boards after he was trying to forecheck. Wingels would try and return but after one more shift headed to the locker room for good and did not come back out for the remainder of the game.
On the plus side, Bracken Kearns scored his first career NHL goal after just being called up from Worcester yesterday. It was a great moment for the 32-year old who put home a rebound chance after some great work by linemate Andrew Desjardins. That goal, which put the Sharks up 3-0 in the middle of the second period, would be plenty as the defense would only allow one goal against.
Still, the Ducks were relentless all night and even when down 3-0 late did not take their foot off the gas and eventually broke through with about eight and a half minutes left to go in the game. Before that goal, which made it 3-1 Sharks, Antti Niemi had been perfect and was forced to make plenty of great saves.
However after that goal the Sharks stood tall defensively and would not allow many more chances for Anaheim. In the end the 3-1 score would be enough.
San Jose’s other two goals would come from Brent Burns who scored his 12th of the season and Logan Couture who would finally end his 11-game goalless streak. Couture pick a great way to get off the ‘schneid’ as well when he went one-on-one against the defenseman, beat him, then made a great move to the backhand and put the puck top-shelf. That goal, which put the Sharks up 2-0, ended up being the game-winner as well.
Burns’ goal came early on in the first period when San Jose came out gunning and had some relentless zone time before putting the puck in the back of the net on a great feed from Joe Pavelski who was behind the net.
All in all a great, albeit tough, victory for the Sharks who were able to play with, and better than, the best team in the league tonight. We look forward to seeing another similar contest in a couple of days when the San Jose Sharks visit Anaheim.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Brent Burns (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Antti Niemi (30 saves)
3. Bracken Kearns (1 goal)