It took overtime for the Sharks to beat the Ducks 2-1 on Tuesday night, but San Jose thoroughly dominated Anaheim in the possession all evening long. The Sharks have the top six to thank for that as the top two lines absolutely throttled the very best Anaheim had to offer.
As usual, this type of story begins with Joe Thornton. At even strength he posted a corsi differential of +7 while spending most of his time against the Ducks’ top line (Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg) and his linemates Joe Pavelski (6) and Mikkel Boedker (+2) did similar work.
The following chart from HockeyViz.com shows just how good the Sharks’ top six was against the Ducks’ top six. Hint: The bluer these boxes are the better. There’s a whole bunch of blue on this chart.
You’ll notice Brent Burns and Paul Martin also absolutely decimated the Ducks’ top line while the Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun pairing didn’t do so hot against Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen. The Sharks’ top line also crushed the Corey Perry line (the Ducks No. 2 line) and didn’t let up (obviously) once Ryan Getzlaf left the game in the second period.
It would have been nice to see the Sharks ramp up the pressure even more once the Ducks lost Getzlaf, but perhaps it’s to the Ducks’ credit that San Jose didn’t see a sharp increase in scoring chances. Dressing Jared Boll and then playing him for five minutes isn’t a great way to distribute minutes for Anaheim, but the Sharks countered with their own bench magnet in Micheal Haley -- so we’ll call that a wash.
Beyond the top line the Sharks got another incredible performance from the No. 2 set of forwards. Logan Couture continued his terrific start to the season by thrashing just about any Anaheim player who stepped onto the ice. Reuniting the Couture - Joel Ward - Joonas Donskoi line seems like a change that should stick around for now.
To bring this back to where we started: the Ducks’ top line finished with the following 5v5 corsi differentials: Cogliano (-7), Kesler (-7), Silfverberg (-5). And while Getzlaf wasn’t in the game long he managed to end up with a -9. That’s great news for the Sharks — if they can shut down their opponents’ best players the team has the depth to take care of the rest of the team most nights.
On a night when the Sharks (almost) dressed their deepest possible lineup, the stars stole the show. I guess that’s why they’re the stars.