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Ducks' second-period explosion too much for Sharks

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The third time was definitely the charm for the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. After going 0-1-1 against the San Jose Sharks in two previous tries this season, Anaheim made the most of its New Year's Eve tilt, delighting the hometown faithful with a 6-3 win.

It was the conclusion of a home-and-home series between the two California clubs.

Already up 1-0 after the opening frame, Anaheim fired 25 shots on Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi in the second period, resulting in three goals and a commanding 4-2 lead heading into the final intermission.

"It's hard for me to answer," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, when asked about his team's second period collapse. "What happened? We can start with getting pushed off the puck, getting pushed around your net, losing races, playing soft, I could go on and on but we can stop at that."

The output was a new Ducks record for shots in the middle frame and was only one shy of the club record for any period (26). It also saw the Ducks turn a 17-8 deficit in shots after the first period into a 30-25 lead.

As for the scoring, it was right winger Kyle Palmieri who started things off for Anaheim. Late in the first period, after a big hit in the corner, the puck cycled out along the boards to almost the blue line, where left winger Matt Beleskey riffled a shot on net. Niemi was screened on the play and Palmieri was able to tip it past him for a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Cam Fowler also picked up an assist on the play.

The Sharks equalized just 35 seconds into the second period when defenseman Dan Boyle slapped in a power-play goal.

Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin gave the Ducks the lead back just past the halfway point of the game. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf capped off some sustained pressure when he shot the puck from out near the blue line. Beachmin tipped it in for his first goal of the season. Winger Jakob Silverberg was credited with the second assist.

San Jose center Logan Couture answered back just 1:35 later, tying the game at 2.

With Sharks left winger James Sheppard in the penalty box a few minutes later, Getzlaf shot it from nearly the same spot he did previously -- and this time, center Nick Boninno converted the rebound. The power-play goal gave Anaheim a 3-2 lead with 5:01 remaining in the second. Fowler picked up his second assist of the game.

Beleskey made it 4-2 when he banged home the Ducks fourth goal and third of the period. It was a slow developing play, with Boninno walking the puck out from behind the net before feathering a soft pass to Beleskey in front of the Sharks crease.

The night of futility continued for the Sharks in the final frame, where they only managed a late goal from 32-year-old rookie winger Bracken Kearns, but nothing more of substance.

"We know this team starts really well, we knew that and we did a job in the first, we just couldn't sustain it," he said.

Even a change in goalies, swapping Niemi for Alex Stalock 1:14 into the third, did little to change San Jose's fortunes.

At the other end of the ice, Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller was standing on his head.

"I think Hilly (Hiller) won the game for us in that first period," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "They could've had a 5-1 lead at the end of one, and we ended up leading 1-0. That's the biggest part of the game."

Getzlaf and fellow center Andrew Cogliano rounded out the Ducks scoring in the final frame. Getzlaf finished the night with one goal and two assists -- good enough for the second star of the game. Hiller's 33 saves on 36 shots earned him the first star.

"We knew they were going to come out hard," Getzlaf said. "We weren't 100-percent ready. It was definitely good to come out with a lead after the first period. At the end, the score counts. We picked it up in the second and the third, and we found a way to push back."

NOTES: The Sharks ended Anaheim's club-record 10-game winning streak Sunday night in San Jose, defeating the Ducks 3-1. ... Prior to the game, it was announced that Ducks D Ben Lovejoy and wife Avery had given birth to their first child, a baby girl. ... Anaheim LW Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch. Following a red hot start, Penner notched only one goal and two assists in December. ... Ducks C Andrew Cogliano became just the fifth player in NHL history to play 500 straight NHL games from the start of his NHL career. In doing so, he became the first player to achieve the milestone since Doug Jarvis did it as a member of the Montreal Canadiens (1975-81). ... Sharks rookie RW Matt Nieto, a Long Beach native, played his first NHL game at 'home' in Southern California. ... Attendance was 17,424, a standing-room only sellout. ... It was Anaheim's 13th New Year's Eve game in franchise history and 12th in the last 14 years.
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