The Western Conference-leading Sharks can add to the sputtering Ducks’ misery by polishing off a six-game season series sweep Sunday night at the Honda Center.
Anaheim shocked San Jose in six games last spring, allowing just 10 goals while eliminating the NHL’s top regular-season team in the first round.
The Sharks (43-14-10) again have the most points in the West, and 10 of those have come while taking their lingering frustrations out on the Ducks. San Jose has outscored Anaheim 19-7 while winning all five games of this season’s series, with Joe Thornton(notes) (four goals, nine assists) and Patrick Marleau(notes) (five goals, five assists) doing the bulk of the damage.
While the Sharks have won three of four overall since losing their first post-Olympic contest, Anaheim (30-29-8) is still seeking its first win since the break. Two of the losses during the Ducks’ five-game slide have been shutouts, including a 1-0 home defeat against Nashville on Friday.
“As a group, we don’t seem to be engaged emotionally in the hockey game,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “I mean, we are for spurts, but not for 60 minutes. That’s what’s been really frustrating for everybody. The bench is quiet, the room is quiet … it’s like we’re waiting for something bad to happen. And at times, we seem to be in more of a defensive shell than we should be.”
Now 10 points behind eighth-place Detroit with 15 games remaining, Anaheim appears unlikely to get another crack at the Sharks in the first round. Though the Ducks had the same total of 68 points with 15 games left last season, they were only two points out of a playoff spot then.
San Jose is opening a six-game road trip after concluding its five-game homestand in frustrating fashion. The Sharks led Florida 2-0 after one period Saturday on goals from Ryane Clowe(notes) and Marleau, but lost 3-2 in overtime.
It was the polar opposite of San Jose’s most recent win. The Sharks fell behind Nashville 4-2 after two periods Thursday before scoring six times in the third to win 8-5.
“We came out (against the Panthers) and had a little fire in our belly, and played extremely hard in the first period,” coach Todd McLellan said. “But we let it get away from us. That’s the inconsistency in our game right now. Obviously they heard the message at the start but now we reversed the trend and didn’t finish real well. We have to move on.”
Given the success of Thornton and Marleau against the Ducks this season, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
While Thornton and Marleau have carried San Jose versus Anaheim, their Canadian Olympic teammates have disappeared for the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf(notes) and Corey Perry(notes) have one goal, three assists and are a combined minus-14 in the five games against San Jose.