SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—After starting the season with five straight losses, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks were getting desperate—until they shut out a team that’s looking desperately bad.
Sandis Ozolinsh and Petr Sykora scored goals, and Andy McDonald had two assists as the defending Western Conference champions took an early lead and easily held on. It would have been more impressive if not for another terrible effort by the Sharks, who have just eight goals and one win in their first six games.
“We had a hard time getting one,” Ducks coach Mike Babcock said. “We really felt that we could have won some games, and we didn’t. As you can see, even down the stretch tonight wasn’t as smooth as it is going to be, but it is a place to start.”
Anaheim’s victory over its longtime Pacific Division rival wasn’t a masterpiece, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s seldom-used backup covered up for the Ducks’ lapses.
“It’s great to win, especially when tonight was great for everybody,” Gerber said. “We really played the system we want to play, and it was great for everybody to see that it works.”
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 25 shots for the Sharks, who rarely tested Gerber in his second start of the season. San Jose has scored just one goal in the first three games of a five-game homestand.
The Ducks’ first goal resulted from a sensational pass by Fedorov, who left the Detroit Red Wings for a lucrative free-agent contract and the chance to replace Paul Kariya as Anaheim’s biggest offensive threat.
Late in the first period, Fedorov made a perfect pass to Ozolinsh with his stick nearly parallel to the ice—all while being hauled down from behind by Sharks defenseman Tom Preissing. Ozolinsh easily beat Nabokov for his first goal of the season.
“There’s not many chances like that,” Fedorov said. “When I saw big Oz’s skates, size 12, I knew my job was pretty much done there. … (The losing streak) was disappointing, but we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We pushed the plan through to the end this time.”
Sykora scored 108 seconds after Ozolinsh’s goal, sliding the puck under Nabokov on a cross-ice pass from McDonald.
Nabokov dropped to 0-4-1 despite a solid performance for the Sharks, who knew they would have difficulty on offense after the departures of Teemu Selanne and Owen Nolan. But nobody thought it would be this bad: The Sharks already have been shut out twice this season.
“The longer it goes, you begin to find ways to miss because you’re trying so hard,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “The puck hasn’t gone where it’s supposed to. The pressure is just increasing. We’re mixing our lines—and we’re open to suggestions.”
The Sharks got no boost from the return of defenseman Brad Stuart, who missed all of training camp and the first five games with a shoulder injury. San Jose repeatedly failed to convert scoring opportunities, including their three power plays and a three-on-one break with 12:15 left.
“We tried to get the puck upstairs because Gerber is so good low,” said center Vincent Damphousse, who blew a breakaway chance in the third period by ignoring that strategy.
“We’re not as sharp as we want to be. The luck will come if we continue toget and make opportunities.”
The Sharks haven’t scored the first goal of any game this season. They also played a 0-0 tie with Philadelphia. … San Jose waited until after the game to make a corresponding roster move with Stuart’s activation. C Wayne Primeau missed his second game with a groin injury. … San Jose enforcer Scott Parker won a short fight with Anaheim’s Garrett Burnett in the first period. During a preseason game last month, Parker and Burnett, a former Sharksfarmhand, fought three times, receiving game misconducts in the process.