On the same night Corey Perry spurned free agency and agreed to an eight-year contract extension, the Anaheim Ducks extended the longest home winning streak in franchise history by beating one of their biggest rivals.
What a day to be a Duck.
Emerson Etem had his first NHL goal and an assist, defenseman Francois Beauchemin scored two goals, and Anaheim beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 Monday night for its franchise-record 12th consecutive home victory.
Viktor Fasth made 32 saves for the streaking Ducks, who have the NHL’s second-best record at 21-3-4 while earning a point in 11 straight games heading into Wednesday’s showdown with the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks. The Ducks announced Perry’s extension to their crowd in the second period, getting a roar of approval – and three goals by his teammates in blindingly swift succession.
The victory capped another celebratory night in what’s been a charmed season for the Ducks, who have a 12-point lead over Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles atop the Pacific Division with 20 games to play.
”That’s pretty good news in the overall scheme of things,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”I think I’ll sleep well tonight.”
Captain Ryan Getzlaf had a short-handed goal and an assist, while Peter Holland and Etem scored 34 seconds apart in the second period to keep the Ducks unbeaten at Honda Center since their opener Jan. 25. It’s the NHL’s third-longest home streak in the past four seasons.
”We always want this building to be a tough place to come into,” Getzlaf said. ”Our fans have shown it this year, and we’ve shown it. That’s what we want to do down the stretch here, keep winning our home games and win as many as you can on the road.”
Although Perry didn’t play while serving the third game of his four-game suspension for an illegal hit on Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, the Ducks announced the $69 million extension for the former NHL MVP. Perry’s new deal is the same length as the contract signed by Getzlaf 10 days ago, keeping both of the Ducks’ top players out of free agency this summer and making sure Anaheim doesn’t have to consider trading either star at the deadline.
Jason Demers scored his first goal of the season and Antti Niemi stopped 23 shots for the Sharks, who have lost six of seven. Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau scored after Anaheim took a 4-1 lead to make it close.
Martin Havlat had an assist in his return from a seven-game absence with a lower-body injury, but the Sharks made too many defensive mistakes to keep up with smooth-moving Anaheim.
”Effort was better, results are the same,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who ripped his team after Saturday’s loss up the I-5 freeway at Los Angeles. ”If we were looking for effort and banking on effort, it was there – but the results are the same. I thought we took a tight-checking game and turned it into a track meet, and that certainly doesn’t favor us.”
With the Ducks’ first and last goals, Beauchemin has 18 points in an outstanding season that’s been a major factor in the Ducks’ strong start. The veteran defenseman put his final goal into an empty net with 45.9 seconds left.
Anaheim got started when a horrible Sharks line change led to a 2-on-1 chance for Beauchemin, who patiently held the puck before firing a shot into the far top corner behind Niemi.
After Demers evened it late in the first period, Holland put the Ducks ahead with the finish on a slick 3-on-2 rush midway through the second. Before the crowd had even stopped cheering, Etem broke down the slot and got a pass from Daniel Winnik for a one-timer.
The 20-year-old Etem, Anaheim’s first-round pick in 2010 from nearby Long Beach, Calif., got his first goal in the 19th game of his rookie season. Holland, the Ducks’ first-round pick in 2009, has three career goals.
Getzlaf then easily scored on a pass from Etem during a 2-on-1 short-handed break. Getzlaf has 11 goals in 28 games this season, matching the playmaking center’s goal total in 82 games last season.
Marleau replied with his 15th goal in the final minute of the second period, and Irwin trimmed the lead to one goal early in the third.
”That late goal got us within two there, and we came out in the third really strong,” Marleau said. ”We were playing really well after that. We just had a couple of bad lapses there, and they took advantage. There were a lot of good things, but we still have to clean up a lot of stuff.”
NOTES: C David Steckel, acquired last week from Toronto, got his first point for the Ducks with an assist on Beauchemin’s goal. He nearly had a goal of his own moments before, but his backhand hit the post and skittered along Niemi’s goal line without going in. … San Jose played without LW Ryane Clowe, who has an injured shoulder. The bruising power forward has just nine assists and no goals in 25 games. … Ducks F Brad Staubitz returned from a four-game absence with a cut on his face.