The Ducks came to recover from an early hole but were unable to overcome a three-goal deficit, and lost 5-4 against the San Jose Sharks in a preseason game this evening at the SAP Center.
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In the end, Anaheim fell to 0-1-0 just two games into the seven-game preseason schedule. The Ducks continue their preseason exhibition and will return to Honda Center tomorrow night against the Arizona Coyotes.
“We were off guard in the beginning slightly,” Kevin Shattenkirk declared. “First game since the return and it appeared that everyone was just trying to gauge the pace of play. We settled down and were fortunate to score a couple goals to put us back on track.”
Hunter Drew, Glenn Gawdin and Josh Lopina scored for Anaheim. Shattenkirk, Nathan Gaucher, Justin Kirkland, Rocco Grimaldi Pavol Regenda, Tyson Hinds and Jakob Silfverberg added assists.
Anthony Stolarz recorded 24 saves in his first preseason game.
“We were in a bind at the beginning of the season,” head coach Dallas Eakins stated. “You would never be in that situation, but it was our case. It was uplifting to watch the team members dig deep and put their feet beneath us.”
The victory moved San Jose to 2-0-0 for the preseason. Noah Gregor, Scott Reedy, Danil Gushchin, Jonah Gadjovich and Max Veronneau scored for the San Jose home side. Goaltender James Reimer made 26 saves.
The Sharks were flying in their second home game of the preseason having a 2-0 advantage before the game had even 4 minutes old.
San Jose took the night’s first lead during its first shift, after an Ducks mistake turned into a three-on-one rush in the opposite direction. Gregor strung around Stolarz’s outstretched right leg, and then just within the post to gain the first advantage.
The Sharks were quick to double their lead just two minutes later, gaining complete control of the opening minutes of the match. A broken play in the net revealed Reedy’s stick Reedy who was not checked in the slot. He defeated Stolarz by a swift wrist shot from inside close.
Anaheim initially showed a positive response to the initial adversity, and was able to get some momentum after a mid-period playing stock that was packed with scoring opportunities.
The Ducks finally got their act together shortly after the expiration of that penalty after a powerful defense in the neutral zone by Kirkland allowed the puck to go free to Drew and Gaucher who raced ahead in a 2-on-1 rush in front of an San Jose net. Gaucher was able to freeze Reimer by holding the puck in a shooting position prior to passing Drew through the net to make an elbow shot that the huge player buried high up.
Anaheim would not be able to keep the deficit at one goal heading into the final period, as an error within the zone of defense created Gushchin who had an opening net. Veronneau was able to get loose pucks in the left, but was unable to get his shot blocked from Charles Cote. Unfortunately for Anaheim the carrom that came off Cote’s stick fell right to Gushchin in the back of the door for the tap-in goal, which restored the Sharks the cushion of two goals.
Ducks forward Max Jones left the game after the first period. He was assessed for an injury , but was not able to return.
San Jose would get right back in the game early in the middle of the frame and made the Ducks suffer for several clearings of the defensive zone. As it looked like Anaheim might be able to move out of the zone and switch some exhausted defenders, Sharks were able to keep the puck at the blue line, before Gadjovich hit Marc-Edouard’s point shot, giving Anaheim the advantage of 4-1.
In the face of a three-goal deficit the Ducks came back with an outstanding individual effort from Grimaldi right prior to the midway point in the 2nd period. Grimaldi, an Anaheim resident, who had joined the Ducks at training camp for the basis of a professional tryout, dropped the puck in the offensive zone. He was able to get it back by removing it from two Sharks players and then giving a flawless forward feed back to Gawdin who pushed it over Reimer.
Grimaldi had three assists during Anaheim’s preseason opener. Now, he has four points after two appearances in the exhibition.
“Great veteran player,” Eakins said of Grimaldi. “We lost an offensive player during the game and Rocco is an athletic young man. He can be run fairly well.”
The goal was a sign that it gave the Ducks the chance to breathe after they followed up the score with a string of solid shifts in their Sharks end. After several points that went wide of the goal The puck finally found Lopina in a wide ice area in the slot. The 21-year-old forward was not a fool in securing it quickly past Reimer prior to the experienced netminder was able to track the puck.
With just one point to go in the third period, Anaheim was unable to score an early goal to tie the game and would fall back by two after Veronneau crashed the net and took an unintentional puck in Stolarz’s. It was believed that the Anaheim netminder was able to save the puck but it took a long time until a whistle from the referee allowed Veronneau time to pass Stolarz to pull the puck across the line.
The Ducks were able to push forward throughout the thirdperiod, especially on a 4-minute power play after Artyem Guryev took a double-minor high-sticking charge, but the Sharks were able to defend their middle portion of the ice by forcing Anaheim to the outside and limiting any scoring opportunities.
Gawdin scored a second time to put Anaheim back to within of a goal with an hour remaining in regulation. He was part of the rush to score a shorthanded goal. Silfverberg was the winner of the battle to get the puck from behind his San Jose net, spinning and delivering a ball ahead to Gawdin who then beat Reimer one-on-one.
“He was real real sturdy,” Eakins said of Gawdin. “Tonight you were able to see the aggression Gawdin can provide. In the future, a major issue for him is that we know that he’s able to chip in, but he’s going to be evaluated how well he’s able to spot and stop penalties. That’s part of the line-up he’s taking a look at.”
The Ducks were unable to score a last-minute equalizer, however as the Sharks were able to escape with a 5-4 victory.
The Ducks continue their preseason play on Thursday night in the Honda Center against the Arizona Coyotes. A special film screening of Disney+ original series “The Mighty Ducks Game Changers” season 2 will be shown prior to the game. Fans are requested to be at their seats by 5:45.