Kevin Shattenkirk airmailed a pass to Danton Heinen streaking into the attacking zone along the left wing. Heinen then zipped a pass to Adam Henrique, who sent a laser into the back of Martin Jones’ net. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the Ducks were off and running Tuesday night in San Jose.
The Ducks then scored three times in the decisive second period, ended an eight-game power-play drought, got points from 13 different players and relied on goaltender John Gibson to stabilize things when they didn’t have the puck during a 5-1 rout of the Sharks at SAP Center.
Gibson made 34 saves, several of them sensational and others merely routine. His teammates took care of the rest.
“It felt like we had 20 guys pulling the rope in the same direction,” said right wing David Backes, who had a goal and an assist. “Truthfully, I bet a lot of guys would say it was an easier game because everyone was doing their part. I heard some guys coming off the ice saying, ‘That was fun.’”
Above all, the Ducks played with efficiency and confidence that were lacking during a three-game losing streak. They built leads of 2-0, 3-1 and then 4-1 entering the third period. The Ducks (12-21-7) ended the Sharks’ four-game winning streak and improved their road mark to 7-9-3.
The Ducks played without Ryan Getzlaf for the second game because of an upper-body injury, Rickard Rakell for the fourth game because of an upper-body injury and Sam Steel for the third game because of a lower-body injury. Their absences didn’t prevent a rare scoring outburst.
Henrique’s goal gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead 5:55 into the game, an eye-catching play that set an early tone. Sam Carrick followed it up with a display of old-fashioned, hard-nosed hockey. Denied by Jones on a point-blank try, he then fought with the Sharks’ Jeffrey Viel at 13:51 of the first.
Carrick was bloodied when Viel tagged him square in the visor, opening a nasty gash on his nose. Carrick left the ice for treatment, with blood on his face, his visor and jersey. Backup goalie Ryan Miller greeted Carrick with a tap on the back as Carrick departed for the dressing room.
It was the second time in as many games since Carrick was recalled from the San Diego Gulls of the AHL that he had a fighting major. He scored a goal in the Ducks’ loss Sunday to the Arizona Coyotes and had an assist Tuesday against the Sharks.
“Sammy comes in and plays solid,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “He understands the game. He’s a grizzled veteran. Knowing him for so long, I’d expect no less from him. The guys on the bench feed off him. The guys on the bench respond to it and it inspires them.”
The Ducks began to win more than their fair share of small battles. They latched onto loose pucks and moved smartly from the defensive zone and through the neutral zone and pressured the Sharks by playing more offense than defense. Soon, the Sharks were on their heels.
Max Comtois matched Henrique for the team lead with his 11th goal, a power-play strike 24 seconds into the second period. Rookie defenseman Jamie Drysdale set up Comtois’ goal with an alert pass from the high slot. Comtois, stationed near the left goal post, tapped it into the net.
Patrick Marleau cut the Ducks’ lead to 2-1 with his 564th career goal, passing Mats Sundin and Joe Nieuwendyk for 23rd place on the NHL’s all-time list, a power-play strike that gave San Jose an all-too-brief jolt of energy and momentum.
Isac Lundestrom restored the Ducks’ three-goal lead, capping a flurry of goals in the opening 2:44 of the second period. Nicolas Deslauriers extended the Ducks’ lead to 4-1, beating Jones thanks to a fortunate bounce off the leg of retreating Sharks defenseman Radim Simek.
Backes scored a third-period goal to make it 5-1 with 7:13 remaining. The Sharks pulled Jones in favor of an extra attacker, desperate to rally and perhaps gain another point in the standings as they have become a late arrival to the West Division playoff race. Backes made them pay.
“That’s the kind of effort we know we’re capable of and we’ve been looking for most of the season,” Backes said. “We’ve had spurts of really good connected play. Tonight was more of a 60-minute effort. You see the power-play score to extend the lead. Just a lot more of the components we need to win.”