SAN JOSE – The way the Pacific Division standings are shaping up, there’s a decent chance the Sharks could face the top seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
From San Jose’s perspective, that may not be such a bad thing.
The Sharks blitzed past the Ducks on Thursday night at SAP Center, 6-3, finishing 4-0-1 in the season series against the NHL leaders. Of the Sharks’ 18 skaters, 12 had at least one point.
San Jose improved to 4-1-1 in its last six games, playing for the first time since the midseason All-Star break.
The Sharks were outplayed in the first period, but came out of it tied 1-1 thanks to Joe Pavelski’s power play goal.
The onslaught began in the second, as San Jose exploded for five more goals to essentially put the game away after 40 minutes.
Barclay Goodrow gave the Sharks the lead for good when he chipped a puck past Hampus Lindholm near the blue line, raced around the Ducks defender, and flicked it past Ilya Bryzgalov at 2:15.
Four minutes later, Patrick Marleau went to the high slot and got a stick on a Brent Burns shot, redirecting it just inside the post. The goal was Marleau’s third in the last five games, and 10th of the year.
Matt Irwin’s first goal since Oct. 14 increased the Sharks’ lead to 4-1. Logan Couture took advantage of Clayton Stoner’s errant puck towards the neutral zone, and found Irwin alone. The defenseman had all kinds of time to glide in and find the top corner at 12:37.
James Sheppard scored just his second goal in the last 34 games less than two minutes later. Goodrow found him open between the circles on a three-on-two rush, and Sheppard wristed it through Bryagalov.
Finally, Brenden Dillon’s shorthanded marker chased the Ducks’ well-traveled goaltender. On a two-on-one rush, Dillon’s attempted pass to Matt Nieto deflected off of two Ducks and over the line at 16:07.
Anaheim’s three goals came from Andrew Cogliano at 4:57 of the first period, Matt Beleskey early in the third, and Patrick Maroon, who capped the scoring with a meaningless marker at 18:50.
The game marked Anaheim’s first regulation loss when scoring the first goal of the game. The Ducks, who still top the NHL with 70 points, had been 23-0-5 when jumping out to a 1-0 lead.
The Ducks had their six-game winning streak snapped, while the Sharks beat them for the ninth time in the last 12 meetings and seventh straight at SAP Center.
Pavelski scored at least one goal in all five games against Anaheim, including five on the power play.
San Jose finished 1-for-4 on the power play, and was 7-for-24 in the season series. Anaheim was 0-for-2, and just 1-for-18 in the five games against the Sharks while allowing two shorthanded goals.
Pavelski has 13 power play goals, tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. Dillon’s shorthanded goal was the Sharks’ fourth of the season.
Antti Niemi, who played all five games against the Ducks from start to finish, recorded his 20th win of the year with 25 saves. It’s his sixth straight season of 20 or more wins, including 2009-10 with Chicago.
Playing in just his fifth game, Bryzgalov surrendered six goals on 25 shots before Frederik Andersen replaced him late in the second period. Andersen, who will presumably start against Chicago on Friday, stopped the eight shot he saw.
Tyler Kennedy missed the game with a back injury, but is considered day-to-day. Tommy Wingels (left hand) and Justin Braun (left hand) each missed their second straight game and are out for the next several weeks.
The Sharks recalled forward Daniil Tarasov earlier on Thursday, Worcester’s leading scorer, but the 23-year-old did not play and has yet to make his NHL debut.
The Sharks remain home to host the Blackhawks on Saturday. Chicago, which plays in Anaheim on Friday, beat San Jose 5-2 at United Center on Nov. 9.
San Jose’s homestand concludes on Monday, Feb. 2 vs. Edmonton. The Sharks have 17 home games remaining, and 16 on the road.