The Sharks will be ringing in the new year with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they halted their three-game skid against Pacific opponents by beating division-leading Anaheim 3-0 thanks to a two-goal night by Joe Pavelski and a 28-save shutout from Antti Niemi. On the other, they lost their best player to a seemingly serious arm injury midway through the first period when Joe Thornton left the game and never returned following a collision with Clayton Stoner.
It's unclear how long Thornton's injury will keep him out of the lineup going forward (though there was some good news after the game) but it is clear that it remains incredibly easy to sneak under the skin of the Anaheim Ducks. From Ryan Getzlaf putting his team on a two-man disadvantage by hurling his stick into the bench while screaming at the officials to Sami Vatanen earning his own unsportsmanlike minor late in the game to Corey Perry attempting to sit on Tommy Wingels in his first game back from injury, tonight was peak Ducks and their unending parade to the penalty box was a big reason the Sharks won.
The victory marks the first time the Sharks have notched two wins in Anaheim in a season since 2009-10 and improves them to 3-0-1 against the Ducks this season. While they still trail Anaheim by nine points in the standings, they've done about all they can in head-to-head meetings to narrow that gap. Now it's time to start beating other Pacific Division teams with more regularity.
- Patrick Marleau just can't catch a break lately. He was robbed by Frederik Anderson on a power play one-timer tonight and had the puck skip over his stick on a 2-on-1 feed from Logan Couture in addition to another near-miss in front of the net on a different man advantage. At some point the pucks will start going in for him. He won't shoot 6% this season. But this has been a frustrating stretch.
- Tonight's game summed up in one screencap:
the holy trinity of pissbabies pic.twitter.com/CZlOB24jsA— Fear The Fin (@fearthefin) January 1, 2015
- Brenden Dillon continues to be a really useful safety valve on the team's second pairing with Brent Burns. There's a lot that Burns screws up on a regular basis in his own zone and that part of the forward-turned-defenseman's game doesn't seem likely to improve any time soon. The reason it's costing the Sharks less now than it did earlier in the year is largely attributable to Dillon's ability to cover for him.
FTF Three Stars
1st Star: Joe Pavelski
2nd Star: Frederik Andersen
3rd Star: Antti Niemi