Anaheim Ducks (32-10-6) at San Jose Sharks (25-17-6)
|Date & Time||Thursday January 29, 2015, 10:00 PM (EST)|
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
So much for slowing down coming out of the break for the Anaheim Ducks. The National Hockey League leaders came out and played a stifling defensive game in Vancouver on Tuesday night in a 4-0 whitewash of the Canucks. Frederik Andersen picked up his 27th win of the season and his third shut out of the season, but the team around him deserves a lot of credit for the relatively easy night he had in front of him. Anaheim frustrated the Canucks all night long and once Matt Beleskey gave the Ducks the 1-0 lead with his 18th goal of the season late in the first period, the game was all but over. Anaheim scored the only goal in the second period on one of their three power plays when Kyle Palmieri converted for his 10th of the season. Rickard Rakell and Patrick Maroon finished the scoring. Anaheim held Vancouver to just 17 total shots in the game, including two in the second period and five in the third. It was exactly the type of start the Ducks were looking for coming out of the break and with match ups against the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning on the horizon the Ducks will need to be focused on the defensive side of things if they’re going to continue to be successful. Thursday night they find themselves in San Jose taking on a Sharks club that has had their number this season. Anaheim is just 1-3-0 in four games against the Sharks this season and 31-7-6 against the rest of the league. It would be almost impossible for these two clubs to meet in the first round of the post season unless the Ducks just collapsed down the stretch, but the potential of seeing each other after that always looms. For Anaheim it will be important to prove to themselves that the Sharks won’t be a thorn in their side if the two do eventually meet in April or May.
San Jose will be playing their first game back from the All-Star Break, currently occupying the second spot in the Pacific Division standings. That’s where the Sharks would like to stay, but the Canucks and Flames both have 55 points and the Kings are right behind with 52. It’s going to be a great race in the Western Conference and this division is shaping up to be a lot of fun. With Los Angeles really struggling the rest of the clubs in contention haven’t done much to distance themselves. San Jose is just 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, Vancouver is 5-5-0, and the Flames are 6-4-0. After two straight losses on home ice to the Flames and New Jersey Devils the Sharks bounced back just before the break with a big win against the Kings. Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with his 17th goal of the season in the opening period, but the Kings would even the score midway through the second. Patrick Marleau then gave the Sharks the lead for good with a power play goal. Joe Pavelski added another goal with the man advantage in the third and after the Kings cut the lead to a goal with under a minute to play it was Couture who finished the scoring with an empty netter. Antti Niemi made 26 saves to pick up his 19th victory of the season.
San Jose really has had Anaheim’s number this season and they’re the only club in the league that can say that. Look for Anaheim to come out and try and set the tone early in this one as the Sharks try and find their game after a week layoff.