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ANAHEIM – Sharks goalies Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss both have stellar numbers, but neither of them can claim they’ve made the save of the year.
No, that honor goes to defenseman Jason Demers, who stopped a sure goal by Andrew Cogliano in the second period of the Sharks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night. Demers managed to turn around and lunge at Cogliano’s attempt at a wide-open net, getting just enough of his stick on the puck to keep the Sharks’ 1-0 lead intact.
He described the play after the game.
“It was kind of rattling around. It caught the pad and I saw it bounce through my legs and saw a guy behind me. It happened pretty quick, so I turned, and saw him getting ready to shoot so I just tried to get everything I could in front of him. I got a piece of it with my stick.
“It’s one of those plays that happens so quick, it’s a reflex. You want to get down and get something in front of that shot, and I got a piece to get it out of the net.”
Unfortunately for Demers and the Sharks, it didn’t matter, as the Ducks scored two third period goals – one on a bad bounce from the boards, and another on a deflection. They were the first two goals that Thomas Greiss, making his second start, allowed this season. Greiss finished with 30 saves, and has a 1.01 goals-against average and .964 save percentage to go with his 1-1-0 record.
“He made some big saves tonight and played a hell of a game for us tonight. A couple bad bounces, and that’s the result we get,” Demers said.
Ducks get up for Sharks, says Boudreau
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is one of the more candid head coaches in the league, and said after the game that San Jose brings out the best in his club.
“It has, recently,” Boudreau said. “Quite frankly, they’re in first place. And I know it’s early and all, but you want to stay up in the pack. This was a big game for us. We were emotionally into it. San Jose is another California team and they’ve been known to be great for many years, so it’s not hard to get up for them.
The Ducks are 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Sharks.
Work or rest?
After the Sharks’ pregame skate on Monday, Todd McLellan was asked how he’s handling the heavy schedule. The Sharks play their 10th game on Tuesday against Chicago, over a span of just 17 days.
San Jose opted not to skate on Sunday, and Wednesday is a scheduled off day.
“We’re torn between rest and practice. We’re erring on rest right now, and until our players prove us wrong, we’ll probably err that way,” McLellan said.
“So, how do you replace the practice time? Video – the ability to teach there. The players have been patient with us.”
The Sharks have a rare three days off between Tuesday’s game and a Saturday afternoon tilt with the Coyotes. In fact, its one of just two three-day breaks in the shortened and condensed schedule, with the second coming later this month.
Vatanen helps himself
The Ducks recalled defenseman Sami Vatanen from Norfolk recently, with Cam Fowler out with an apparent head injury. Vatanen happened to be staying at the Sharks’ team hotel in Anaheim, and decided he wanted a cup of coffee before heading to the rink.
Rather than find a local Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, though, Vatanen waltzed right into the Sharks’ pregame snack room, much to the surprise of several players, many of whom had no idea who he was. He poured a cup for the road, and walked out.
Vatanen, a fourth round pick of the Ducks in 2009, played in his second game in the NHL on Monday. It seems he still has a thing or two to learn about professional decorum.