How Sharks bounced back from 'awful' second to beat Ducks

Sharks celebrate win vs. Ducks

The Sharks were not a happy bunch heading into the second intermission of Friday's 5-4 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks, and neither were their coaches.

San Jose followed up one of its best periods of the season with one of its worst, entering the visiting locker room at Honda Center facing a 3-1 deficit. The Sharks once again sank in the second period, with their goal differential in the middle frame ballooning to minus-12 after Max Comtois put Anaheim up two goals.

Defenseman Brent Burns said it was "just awful." Captain Logan Couture said the Sharks "[stunk] it up for a spurt."

And in between the second and third periods, Coach Bob Boughner made his dissatisfaction known.

"You come in after that period, and you challenge guys," Boughner told reporters in a postgame video conference. "Some of our best players have to be a little better, and I'm not gonna pinpoint 'em out in the media, but there's guys in there that have a lot more to give, and they got challenged in between periods.

"It was time to look ourselves in the mirror a little bit, and it's a gut check and they responded. Give 'em credit. We came out [strong], and it started with [Logan Couture's] line."

Couture made it 3-2 when he crashed the net following Evander Kane's power move, burying a rebound just 39 seconds into the third period. Not even 90 seconds later, Kane chipped a puck past Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm in the defensive on the penalty kill and snapped a short-handed shot just under John Gibson's blocker on the other end.


Two minutes and six seconds after taking the ice for the third period, the Sharks and Ducks were all square.

"We got challenged by our coaches between the second and third, and we kind of challenged each other," Couture told reporters. "We knew that that wasn't good enough. We know the importance of this stretch of games right now. ... It was time to buckle up. It's tough that it had to come to that, to getting yelled at a bit between the second and third, but sometimes you need that."

Defenseman Brent Burns gave the Sharks a 4-3 lead just shy of six minutes after Kane's goal, capitalizing on an out-of-position Gibson after he turned the puck over beneath the goal line.

The Sharks were on the front foot for the first half of the third period, but the Ducks pushed hard for the tying goal -- and got it, thanks again to Comtois -- down the stretch. Anaheim had six high-danger 5-on-5 chances during the final frame to San Jose's two, according to Natural Stat Trick, and a 9-4 edge in all-situations high-danger chances between the third period and overtime.

Goaltender Martin Jones was up to the task in the shootout, denying Rickard Rakell and Comtois for his seventh and eighth consecutive saves in the shootout, respectively, since allowing a goal on the first shootout attempt he faced in the season opener. Ryan Donato and Kevin Labanc, using similar moves, both beat Gibson in the shootout, and the Sharks improved to 4-5-0.

"It's hockey, there's a lot of crazy things that happen," Burns said. "It's a game of inches [and] bounces, and obviously goals can change things. Cooch scoring that big goal changed it back to us after a good first and a terrible second."

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Three of the Sharks' four wins have come in shootouts, meaning divisional opponents have picked up three points in those victories and those don't count toward the primary playoff tiebreaker (regulation and overtime wins, or ROW).

Still, Friday's win was San Jose's ninth of what are 12 now consecutive away games to open the season, a combination of since-lifted coronavirus restrictions in Santa Clara County and COVID-19-related postponements of two of the Sharks' games. With another win Saturday in Anaheim, the Sharks can move to .500 and just two points back of the Minnesota Wild for the West Division's fourth and final playoff spot with a game in hand.

The Sharks' second periods need cleaning up, as does their overall 5-on-5 play. But considering how close San Jose seemed to coming up empty-handed after 40 minutes, ending the night with two points was a welcome relief.

"On the road, nine in a row, we'll take the points any way we can get 'em right now," Couture said.