ANAHEIM, Calif. – The difference in the series between the defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks and the Pacific Division-leading Sharks has been razor-thin this season, but with Anaheim holding a definite edge.
With the Ducks trailing by a goal, Doug Weight scored with 28 seconds left in regulation, then defenceman Francois Beauchemin scored 33 seconds into overtime Sunday night to rally Anaheim to a 4-3 victory over San Jose.
The defeat ended a 10-game road winning streak by the Sharks that equalled the second longest in NHL history. The Ducks’ win was their season-high sixth in a row at home.
Anaheim has won five of six meetings against their division rivals from Northern California this season: two in shootouts, one in overtime, and two in regulation. San Jose’s only victory came in a shootout.
The Sharks’ last road loss before they began the streak was a shootout defeat in Anaheim on Nov. 9.
Weight, who came to the Ducks in a Dec. 14 trade that sent Andy McDonald to St. Louis, said the rivalry is evident.
“They’re a tough team. They’re in our division, and I definitely felt it,” Weight said. “Being a new player here, you kind of get into new rivalries. We’ve played this team four times since I’ve been here and I felt the emotion before the game.
“So it’s always fun to beat them.”
Capping the Ducks’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit, Beauchemin scored his second goal of the season and first in 41 games when he jumped into the play and one-timed a cross-ice pass from Todd Marchant between the pads of goalie Thomas Greiss.
“We didn’t start the way we wanted to. We gave up a goal right away on their power play at the beginning of the first and we gave up a short-handed goal,” Beauchemin said. “Some nights we play good and don’t win, but tonight was one of those nights where we didn’t play our best and got the two points.”
After Anaheim pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for an extra attacker, Weight’s 30-foot slapshot from outside the right circle got some help – the puck bounced off Alexi Semenov’s right skate and skidded past Greiss, who was making his NHL debut.
Giguere gave up two goals on the first four shots against him and finished with 26 saves. Greiss stopped 25 shots.
Todd Bertuzzi and Corey Perry had the other Anaheim goals. Jeremy Roenick had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, and Torrey Mitchell and Milan Michalek also scored for San Jose.
The 21-year-old Greiss, a German taken by San Jose as the 94th player chosen in the 2004 entry draft, got the start when Evgeni Nabokov finally got a night off. Nabokov had started all 43 of the Sharks’ previous games this season.
Greiss was recalled from Worcester on Tuesday after posting a 12-10-1 record with a 3.03 goals-against average for the AHL team.
He obviously was disappointed with the defeat, saying, “It was a tough one, to lose the lead 30 seconds before the end.”
Nabokov said he was OK with sitting out a game and complimented Greiss.
“Ronnie (coach Ron Wilson) made a decision and I’m fine with that,” Nabokov said. “We kind of knew that sooner or later this would happen. But physically I’m feeling fine.
“He played well tonight. I didn’t talk to him before the game. I just tried to let him prepare for the game. I know the feeling when you go in there for your first game; you don’t need to know much information. He handles the game well and he’s good mentally.”
Perry closed the gap to 3-2 with his goal during a scramble in front of Greiss, poking the bouncing puck past the San Jose goalie at 16:55 of the second period for his 24th goal.
Michalek put the Sharks up 3-2 at 14:02 of the second with his 15th goal. Mitchell gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal at 15:23 of the opening period.
Bertuzzi had drawn Anaheim even at 8:58 of the first period. Roenick put the Sharks on the board with during an early power play, scoring just 2:11 into the game.
Notes: Mitchell’s short-handed goal was the second of his career and the fourth by the Sharks this season. … Nabokov’s 43 consecutive starts tied for the second longest streak by a goalie in the league since 1989-90. … Detroit’s 12-game road winning streak two seasons ago is the longest in NHL history.