There's exactly one thing the Anaheim Ducks do well and that's win one-goal games. There's no rational explanation for it but since the end of the NHL's most recent lockout, the Ducks are a ridiculous 58-6-19 in one-goal games. This season, Anaheim is 16th in the league in goal differential and ranks below average on both special teams but are first in the NHL standings entirely on the strength of a 16-0-5 record in games decided by a single goal.
Make that 17-0-5 now as a perfectly placed Ryan Kesler shot in overtime seconds after the expiration of a Brent Burns minor penalty gave Anaheim a 3-2 win over the Sharks tonight, snapping San Jose's five-game winning streak. Despite dominating the Ducks for most of the first forty minutes and taking a 2-1 third period lead on Melker Karlsson's first NHL goal 7:56 into the final frame, a late Cam Fowler goal with the Anaheim defenseman left unguarded in the slot followed by the Kesler winner gave San Jose its first loss of the season to the Ducks as they fell to eight points behind their division rival.
- Melker Karlsson was making an impact on this game long before he scored his first NHL goal on a long rebound-seeking slapshot so it was nice to see him get rewarded. His puck protection skills along the wall are a perfect complement on a line that loves to go to work down low. Sharks are going to have some pleasantly difficult choices to make if Matt Nieto and Tyler Kennedy get healthy after the break.
- Those choices should be made somewhat easier if John Scott gets the lengthy suspension he richly deserves for knocking Tim Jackman out cold by slamming the butt end of his stick into Jackman's head. But remember everyone, enforcers make the league safer. Anyway, with or without Scott as an option, a fourth line of Goodrow, Desjardins and Karlsson once Nieto and Kennedy are back would likely outduel almost any other fourth line in the league.
- Not Justin Braun's greatest game by any stretch as he knocked a puck out of Antti Niemi's grasp leading to the Rickard Rakell goal and partially screened Niemi on the Kesler winner while failing to block the shot.
- That was, however, probably one of Niemi's better games of the season even if his .906 in-game SV% doesn't exactly indicate as much. San Jose's goalie defused a ton of high-quality chances, including a Ryan Getzlaf backhand from point blank range, another fancy Getzlaf shot off a coast-to-coast rush and a Kesler snipe on the power play that could have won the game in regulation.
- After an up-and-down game against the Blues, the Thornton line was back at it and demolished the Ducks in zone time whenever they stepped onto the ice. With Jumbo on the ice at even-strength, the Sharks had 23 shot attempts to the Ducks' 6. Getzlaf was incredible in this game but Thornton wasn't far behind him.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Ryan Getzlaf
2nd Star: Antti Niemi
3rd Star: Melker Karlsson