A pair of teams coming off much-needed victories will meet Friday when the Anaheim Ducks play host to the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks have been off since New Year’s Day when they earned a 5-2 road victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. San Jose was asked to play on both New Year’s Eve and again on New Year’s Day, with the reward of four days off before a visit to Anaheim.
Jonah Gadjovich, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Alexander Barabanov each scored a goal in the final five minutes of the second period as the Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to win for just the second time in eight games (2-4-2).
“It means we’re getting in the right areas and putting in the work, and we’re getting rewarded for it,” Gadjovich said. “It’s just a character win.”
Kaapo Kahkonen made 20 saves while earning a win for the first time in his last five starts.
Vlasic played in his 1,200th NHL game, all with the Sharks over 17 seasons.
“A win is good no matter if it’s 1,200 (games), 1,201,” Vlasic said. “Right now, we need the wins. It feels good to win.”
The Sharks took advantage of the fading Blackhawks, who lost for the 12th time in their last 13 games. Now they face the Ducks, who have won just twice in their last seven games.
The most recent of those Anaheim victories came Wednesday when they pinned a 2-0 shutout on the Dallas Stars. John Gibson made 35 saves as Anaheim shut out an opponent for the first time this season.
The Ducks received goals from Adam Henrique and Mason McTavish in the first 11:18 of the game and Gibson made the advantage hold up. Henrique matched Troy Terry for the team lead with his 12th goal. The 19-year-old McTavish centered the No. 1 line for the first time.
“It was great for Gibby,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “He’s seen a lot of rubber this year, and great for our team that we could get it locked down in the end. The penalty killing — I don’t know how many blocked shots we had but it seemed in the third we were diving in front of everything we could.”
Anaheim finally has its top two goaltenders available after both Gibson and Anthony Stolarz missed time with lower-body injuries. Stolarz was out for nine games, last playing Dec. 9 against the Sharks before he returned to the roster Monday.
The Ducks are now 2-3-1 on a franchise-record 10-game homestand that concludes Jan. 13. After the visit from the Sharks, the Ducks are set to welcome the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils.
The Sharks are looking for something resembling the effort that led to a 6-1 victory at Anaheim on Dec. 9. Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist apiece in that game. Meier leads San Jose with 21 goals, while Karlsson leads with 53 points, including 40 assists.
This is already the final meeting of the season between the Pacific Division rivals. The Ducks won the first meeting 6-5 in a shootout at San Jose on Nov. 1. They won another shootout at San Jose four nights later, 5-4.
–Field Level Media