SAN JOSE – Perhaps the Pacific Division race isn’t over quite yet, after all.
Patrick Eaves and Jakob Silfverberg scored goals in a 2-1 Ducks win over the Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday, bringing them to within four points of San Jose for the division lead. The Sharks, who still have one game in hand on Anaheim, had a nine point cushion on the rest of the Pacific after beating Buffalo on Tuesday.
Anaheim has won the Pacific Division in each of the last four seasons. The Sharks are seeking their first title since 2011.
It took Anaheim more than eight minutes to get their first shot on goal in the second period, as momentum swung towards San Jose in a 1-1 game.
But with six-and-a-half minutes left in the middle frame, Silfverberg blocked a Paul Martin shot after the defenseman fumbled with the puck just inside the offensive zone blue line, and raced in for a breakaway score at 13:29. The Ducks took their 2-1 lead to the dressing room.
San Jose’s best chance to tie it in the third came on a Patrick Marleau breakaway with nine minutes to go, but he couldn’t slip through a backhand.
The Sharks pulled Martin Jones with about two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
The Sharks finished their season-long six-game homestand with a 3-3-0 mark. They lost back-to-back games in regulation at home for just the second time this season (Nov. 3-5).
Anaheim, playing its second game in two nights, improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven.
The Ducks had the Sharks on their heels early. They took the lead just 39 seconds into the game when Eaves finished his check on Justin Braun, snuck out to the front of the net, and lifted a Ryan Getzlaf feed over Jones’ glove hand. It was Eaves’ third goal with Anaheim since he was traded from Dallas just before the deadline.
Anaheim kept up the pressure, including a Ryan Kesler breakaway which is rang off the post, but the Sharks would tie it late in the frame.
On a two-man advantage, Joe Thornton found Logan Couture alone in the slot, and Couture – playing in his 500th career NHL game – whipped it through Jonathan Bernier at 19:13.
Couture nearly had his second of the night some remaining power play time early in the second, but his redirection of a Martin saucer caught iron.
Jannik Hansen left the game midway through the third period after colliding with Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour, and did not return.
The Sharks and Ducks concluded their five-game season series. Anaheim was 3-0-2.
The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring their third five-on-three goal of the season. Couture’s 11 power play goals leads the team.
Anaheim was 0-for-2 on the power play, as the Sharks improved to 12-for-13 on the PK over the last six games.
Jones has allowed two or fewer goals in his last eight starts, but fell to 4-8-0 in his career against Anaheim with two goals allowed on 27 shots. He played all five games of the season series.
Playing in his fourth game this season against San Jose, Bernier made 33 saves to get his 15th win of the season.
Anaheim remains without goalie John Gibson, who is sidelined with a lower body injury and has missed 10 of the last 11 overall.
Andrew Cogliano played in his 776th straight game, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history.
After Monday’s game against the Stars opens a four-game road trip, the Sharks will visit Minnesota on Tuesday, and go right back to Dallas for another game on Friday. The trip concludes with their only visit of the regular season to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.