Ducks stop Thornton, Sharks 3-2 for 4th consecutive victory
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Anaheim Ducks are making their own breaks after the break.
A 10-3-1 record between Christmas and the All-Star Game propelled them back into playoff contention, and after a few more days off for the festivities in Nashville, the Ducks picked up where they left off.
Ryan Garbutt, Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell scored to send Anaheim past the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Tuesday night for its fourth consecutive victory.
Frederik Andersen stopped 30 shots for the Ducks, playing the first of three crucial games this week against the teams holding playoff positions in the Pacific Division at the All-Star break.
''You can't just take five days off. You want to have that focus and keep what we were doing before the break, which was really good,'' Andersen said. ''We knew how big a week this is and this game is the first step.''
Tommy Wingels and Dainius Zubrus scored for San Jose, and Martin Jones made 24 saves. The Sharks' streak of earning at least one point in 10 straight games ended, as did Joe Thornton's run of 10 games in a row with a goal or an assist.
Even during their awful start to the season, the Ducks were able to rely on their lockdown penalty kill, which leads the NHL at 89.8 percent. That unit delivered in dramatic fashion to restore order in the second period and then finish off the win.
With Rakell sent to the box for tripping 17 seconds after Zubrus poked in a shot by Brent Burns that trickled through Andersen's legs to tie the game at 1, Ryan Getzlaf found Lindholm streaking into the zone. Lindholm unleashed a wrist shot past Jones for his first career short-handed goal, putting Anaheim back in front.
''They were pushing us a little bit there,'' Lindholm said. ''We've been really good and confident on the PK and we got a break there. Getzy made a hell of a pass, guiding me to the net there. It was a big goal for us.''
The penalty kill was pressed back into action when Cam Fowler was called for hooking with 2:07 remaining and Jones departed seconds later for a sixth attacker, but San Jose still could not come up with an equalizer.
''We'd certainly like it not to happen, but when you have got the confidence in the penalty killing that we do and the penalty killers are pretty good, it works out in our favor,'' Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of the 6-on-4 scramble in the final seconds.
Garbutt scored his first goal with the Ducks by firing home Chris Stewart's rebound, only to see Wingels plant a shot under the crossbar 1:05 later to cut San Jose's deficit to 3-2.
Rakell gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead on a shot into the upper right corner late in the first period. It was Rakell's third goal in five games, but the celebration was briefly delayed as San Jose unsuccessfully challenged that Patrick Maroon was offside when he touched the puck to start the scoring sequence.
Anaheim holds the third playoff spot in a jumbled Pacific Division. The Ducks are tied with Arizona at 53 points, two ahead of Vancouver.
With a game at division-leading Los Angeles on Thursday before hosting the Coyotes on Friday, Boudreau stressed the importance of this stretch and expects the Ducks to play even better against the Kings.
''Four days could really change the outcome of what you are doing for the next month, so every game is really important and we are taking them that way,'' Boudreau said.
That playoff mindset is there for every team in the Pacific Division, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. As such, he wasn't particularly troubled by the result.
''They're a good hockey team, it was a good game, and I don't think anyone goes home upset today,'' DeBoer said.
NOTES: Fowler returned to action for Anaheim after missing 13 games with a knee injury and played 20:16, third-most among Ducks defenders. ... Anaheim's Jan. 22 game at Washington that was postponed because of Winter Storm Jonas has been rescheduled for April 10. ... San Jose scratched forward Mike Brown and D Matt Tennyson. ... Anaheim scratched D Korbinian Holzer, C Shawn Horcoff and forward Harry Zolnierczyk, who was recalled from the Ducks' AHL affiliate earlier on Tuesday.