Ducks bounce back with big win against Sharks on Legacy Night

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks got back in the win column with a 4-1 victory over the Sharks on Sunday night.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – On a night to honor the first decade of their 30-year history in Anaheim, the Ducks swiftly dispatched the San Jose Sharks, snapping their two-game losing streak and carrying momentum into their upcoming two-game road trip.

The Ducks got on the board first, courtesy of Frank Vatrano. Ilya Lyubushkin’s shot was deftly deflected by Vatrano through the legs of goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood. The Sharks would answer back midway through the period when Luke Kunin took advantage of a scramble in front of John Gibson and batted home the puck.

Anaheim responded well to San Jose tying up the game though, taking the lead back in the final minutes of the first. Vatrano’s second of the game came on the power play, a game of catch with Cam Fowler before letting loose on a one-timer from just above the right faceoff dot.

It was a strong game for the Ducks’ second line, who head coach Greg Cronin last game said had “gone a little bit south.” Vatrano had three points on the night while Ryan Strome had two assists and Mason McTavish potted a power play goal of his own.

“Even when we’re not playing our best game, we always try to at least make an impact on the team,” said Vatrano. “We weren’t happy with our last game. The good thing is we got rewarded tonight and we did things the right way.”

In a three-goal win, the performance of a goaltender can get lost in the shuffle, but John Gibson made some key stops––most notably a breakaway save on Mikael Granlund in the second period. Another big save to deny Kunin of his second of the game.

“(Gibson) was good,” said Cronin. “I would say the goalie is kind of like a quarterback, right? He handled the game really well.”

Nov 12, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) stops a shot by San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Cronin said he felt like the first period was a bit sloppy, but he liked the way the team played in the second and third. “I liked the way––when we got up 3-1, 4-1––I liked the way we managed the puck, we put it deep, we kept forechecking, got the puck back. So I thought it was a good team effort.”

Radko Gudas––who scored the Ducks’ fourth goal off a pinball effort––was complimentary of the power play, which went 2-for-5 on the night. “(It) boosts the whole group,” he said. “They’re having great movement on the power play and it gets the whole team into a great mood and they feel good about their momentum.”

Leo Carlsson registered another point tonight, nabbing the primary assist on McTavish’s power play tally. That’s four points in the last two games for the 18-year-old after scoring a hat trick on Friday against the Flyers. He now has eight points in 10 games.

Nov 12, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Leo Carlsson (91) skates against San Jose Sharks center William Eklund (72) during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m impressed with his bounceback after having a couple of flat games,” said Cronin. “We were worried about that in terms of the load he’s been playing. He’s a young kid. He’s so confident with the puck. He gets the puck and you can actually feel the energy in the building rise.”

The Ducks have implemented a development plan for Carlsson in which they will rest him in select games during the first couple of months. There isn’t a strict schedule, per se, but it’s possible that he will sit out one of the games on Anaheim’s upcoming road trip against Nashville and Colorado. “That’s going to be up to (general manager Pat Verbeek) and his staff,” said Cronin.

Trevor Zegras, who missed both Friday and tonight’s game with a lower-body injury, will travel with the team to Nashville and Colorado, but Cronin isn’t sure whether he will play.