Goaltender Anthony Stolarz played as if he had something to prove Wednesday night.
So did right wing Alexander Volkov.
So did center Derek Grant.
So did defenseman Haydn Fleury.
No question, the Ducks have had issues this season, but motivation wasn’t one of them during their 4-1 victory over the Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose. Led by several of their depth players, they skated purposefully, confidently and efficiently, and swept the two-game set.
Stolarz was outstanding in goal, blanking the Sharks for 57:44, until Erik Karlsson scored with goalie Josef Korenar on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker. Stolarz had shut out the Sharks on Monday, making a career-high 46 saves in a 4-0 win and earning a second consecutive start.
Overall, Stolarz stopped 73 of 74 shots in the two wins over San Jose.
Volkov and Grant each had a goal and an assist, and teamed with Nicolas Deslauriers to form an energetic fourth line that the Sharks could not handle. Fleury logged 18:16 in his debut after Monday’s trade from the Carolina Hurricanes, and he didn’t look out of place.
“Extremely hungry,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of Stolarz, Volkov and Grant. “They don’t fear the challenge.”
Eakins is just getting to know Fleury, who arrived in San Jose on Tuesday via a private jet from Raleigh, North Carolina, and was available to play immediately instead of flying commercially and having to quarantine for seven days because of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.
“I thought he was solid,” Eakins said of Fleury, who was paired with Kevin Shattenkirk. “That’s a really difficult thing, too. He flies all day. He’s never had a practice with our team other than a morning skate. He was hungry to play. Came in, lugged the puck up the ice a few times, kept us out of trouble.”
As in Monday’s game, the Ducks jumped on the Sharks from the opening minutes and built a three-goal lead by the end of the second period. The Ducks seemed to relish their roles as disruptors, preventing the Sharks from gaining ground in the West Division playoff race.
“It’s in our blood no matter what the standings are to want to win,” Grant said. “Our year hasn’t been up to our standards, but you have to take strides and win as much as you can, especially down the stretch, and take steps toward next season because we don’t want to be in this position again.”
Team captain Ryan Getzlaf returned to the Ducks’ lineup after sitting out Monday because of a nagging back injury, and he gave them a 1-0 lead 8:08 into the first period – his first goal since March 6. Getzlaf moved within seven points of Teemu Selanne’s franchise record of 988, with 12 games remaining in the season.
Troy Terry set up Getzlaf’s goal by swiping Karlsson’s errant pass and feeding the puck to a hard-charging Getzlaf at the right goal post. Getzlaf chipped the puck behind Korenar, who was making his first NHL start after making his debut Saturday against the Kings.
The Ducks had plenty of chances to pad their lead in the first period, but they couldn’t do so until the second. That’s when Grant and Volkov went to work and put the game out of reach for all intents and purposes, with an assist from Stolarz.
Grant scored at 2:29 of the second period and Volkov struck at 13:40.
Karlsson ended Stolarz’s bid for a second consecutive shutout to make it 3-1, but Jakob Silfverberg countered with a power-play goal that restored the Ducks’ three-goal lead and gave them a 4-3-1 record in eight games this season against San Jose.
The Sharks outshot the Ducks by only 28-27 this time. It was 46-21 on Monday.
“It was unfortunate they got one by ‘Stolie,’ because I thought he has been great the past two games,” Grant said, referring to Stolarz by his nickname. “He’s a big guy. He can see over a lot of things, which helps, too. I thought our ‘D’ did a great job of boxing out and tying up sticks.”