The Sharks opened their '08-09 campaign in strong fashion on Thursday, overpowering the Ducks 4-1 for their first victory of the season.
First period action was fast-paced, with both teams showing some opening-night jitters and losing control of the puck quite often in the first 20 minutes. Although both squads showed goose eggs in the score column, they did not wait long to renew their rivalry in the physical aspect of the game. Right off the opening shift, Jeremy Roenick laid out Sammy Pahlsson on the side boards, and at one point in the game the Sharks were out-hitting the Ducks 18-9.
Scoring finally came in the second period, when first-year Sharks head coach Todd Mclellan's plan to get his defense involved on offense was kicked in gear. Jonathan Cheechoo found a rebound off of defenseman Dan Boyle's point shot and slid it past Giguere, giving the Sharks their first goal of the season at 2:32 of the second period.
Two minutes later, former Shark Teemu Selanne got called for a hooking penalty, putting San Jose on the power play. A power play that re-loaded this off-season with the additions of Boyle and Blake went to work right away, creating a multitude of chances.
With 21 seconds remaining on Selanne's penalty, Joe Pavelski drew a high-sticking penalty, sending Scott Niedermayer to the box. With effectively a two-man advantage, Joe Thornton found Jonathan Cheechoo in the slot for a power-play goal just after Selanne's penalty had expired.
Early in the third, the Sharks went back on the power play when Steve Montador was found guilty of a hook. That paved the way for German-born Christian Ehrhoff—who, with the additions of Blake and Boyle, finds himself on the number-two power-play unit—to give the Sharks a three-goal lead at 2:52 of the third. Ehrhoff took a short feed from Milan Michalek and blasted a shot from the point, through a screen, and past Jean-Sebastian Giguere.
The Ducks finally made a notch on the scoreboard when Rob Niedermayer deflected a point shot from Montador at 14:35 of the third.
The goal seemed to give the Ducks a bit of life late in the third, but any chance at a comeback was quickly sniffed out by Devin Setoguchi. The Sharks cleared the zone, captain Patrick Marleau led a two-on-one rush with Setoguchi. After Marleau's feed was apparently stopped by the Ducks backcheck, Setoguchi regained it on his backhand and slid it through Giguere's five-hole to extend the Sharks lead to 4-1.
This game was simple—the Sharks got the Ducks on their heels after the first goal, and then the Ducks started a parade to the penalty box as San Jose kept bringing the pressure. The Sharks ended up outshooting the Ducks 41-29, largely in part to their seven power-play opportunities.
The San Jose power play is extremely dangerous. The Ducks did not have an answer for the firepower the Sharks now have at both ends of the power play, the big forwards up front and the cannon of shots from the point—that latter due to the Sharks' Rob Blake and Christian Ehrhoff.
Evgeni Nabokov was solid in goal, as always. The only goal he allowed was on a deflection, as he ate up every puck he saw the whole game.
The Sharks take on the LA Kings Saturday night at 7 pm in San Jose.
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