ANAHEIM, Calif. – Corey Perry thinks he never could have scored 50 goals for the Anaheim Ducks without two equally talented linemates. Ryan Getzlaf happens to agree.
And with the playoffs just days away, Perry, Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan gave the San Jose Sharks a little taste of what they might see again from the Ducks’ big line next week.
Perry capped his third career hat trick with his NHL-leading 50th goal during a dynamic four-point performance, and the Ducks kept pace in a tight playoff race with a 6-2 victory over San Jose on Wednesday night.
Perry all but wrapped up his first Richard Trophy and burnished his MVP credentials with the biggest night yet in his remarkable late-season scoring binge. Getzlaf had four assists and Ryan had three while Perry lit up the Sharks, finishing his hat trick in the second period on a pass from Teemu Selanne during a two-man advantage.
“Fifty is a huge number,” Perry said after being serenaded with “M-V-P!” chants from the Honda Center crowd. “Everybody talks about it, (but) not a whole lot of people get to do it and be in that category. It hasn’t really sunk in.”
Perry became just the third 50-goal scorer in Ducks history—joining Selanne and Paul Kariya—and the Western Conference’s first 50-goal scorer since Calgary’s Jarome Iginla in 2007-08.
With 19 goals in his last 14 games, Perry is six goals ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL goal-scoring title with two games to play. Perry also moved into second place on the NHL scoring chart with 97 points, behind only Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin (100).
“It’s a tip to all of us when he can get 50, but it still takes a special player to get there,” said Getzlaf, Perry’s teammate with Canada in last year’s Olympics. “He’s one of those guys who rise to the occasion. He plays playoff hockey any time you need him. He has proven time and time again he can play in those big games and have results.”
Rookie Cam Fowler, Selanne and Jason Blake also scored as Anaheim rebounded from back-to-back losses to stay in a seventh-place tie with Chicago in the Western Conference standings. Both clubs have 95 points apiece and two games to go.
The Ducks’ victory eliminated the Calgary Flames, but the 10th-place Dallas Stars still have a chance with 91 points and a game in hand.
“We knew we have to play our best hockey right now,” Perry said. “To come out and dominate like this shows we can play with anybody. We’re still not there yet, but we’re working hard.”
Ray Emery stopped 22 of 23 shots before leaving midway through the second period with what the Ducks said was a minor injury. He was cleared to return, but Dan Ellis wrapped up Anaheim’s 13th win in 18 games heading into a season-ending home-and-home series with Los Angeles.
Two nights after San Jose embarrassed the Kings, the Sharks were humbled by the other team in California’s lively three-way NHL rivalry. All three appear headed to the same post-season for the first time, with San Jose and Anaheim looming as a possible first-round matchup.
In their first game since clinching their fourth straight Pacific Division title, the Sharks lost in regulation for just the third time in 23 games since Feb. 13. San Jose fans could be excused for worrying about a late-season flop against the Ducks, who ran the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Sharks out of the first round two years ago, but coach Todd McLellan isn’t panicking.
“The team in black, they buckled it up and came to play really hard,” McLellan said. “I thought our guys gave themselves permission, after a long, really good stretch, to take the night off. We’re all disappointed about that. … I expect it to be a one-time event. I want us to recover and have a good practice tomorrow.”
Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves in his first start since Jan. 13, while Dan Boyle and Ben Eager scored for the Sharks, whose four-game winning streak ended with Anaheim’s four power-play goals.
Joe Pavelski’s 10-game points streak ended for the Sharks, who finish with a home-and-home series against Phoenix. With 103 points, San Jose is one point ahead of Detroit in second place in the West standings.
McLellan finally gave a day off to Antti Niemi, who had made 34 consecutive starts in goal. Niittymaki had been dropped from San Jose’s Finnish goalie platoon after missing 17 games with an injury, but the Sharks’ penalties were much more responsible for Anaheim’s domination than any rust on San Jose’s goalie.
“I thought everybody could have done a much better job,” Niittymaki said. “Goalies are a big part of the penalty-killing. At least if I would have stopped a couple of those, we would have had a chance. It wasn’t going to happen tonight.”
NOTES: Ducks D Lubomir Visnovsky earned his career-best 67th point with an assist. … The Sharks scratched LW Ryane Clowe after the 24-goal scorer incurred a lower-body injury Monday. C Scott Nichol also sat out his 20th straight game with an upper-body injury, but both veterans could play Friday at Phoenix.