Ducks 1, Sharks 0.

They were exhorting Bobby Ryan to shoot from every section of Honda Center except for two – sections 408 and 409, which were occupied by enough teal-clad Sharks fans to have filled six buses on a round-trip tour to and from San Jose.

Ryan dangled the puck on his stick from the left wall, through the left faceoff circle, through the slot, and through the right circle, before he finally released a shot at 14:29 of the second period. It was worth the wait for Ryan and for the fans (except those sitting in sections 408 and 409). The wrist shot sneaked through a scrum including Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, Ducks forwards Joffrey Lupul and Brandon McMillan, and of course goalie Antti Niemi, for the only goal on Sunday.

“Their defenseman (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) made a good play and followed me,” Ryan said. “I kept trying to wait for him to stop and he never did. So I finally hit the brakes. There was so much traffic in front, Lupul and McMillan were creating a stir, so I just tried to put it through the traffic. They haven’t found holes in the past month. I’m glad they are finding them right now and I’ll try to continue to do it.”

Ryan has scored four goals in the last five games, all in the absence of injured center Ryan Getzlaf. Before that he had gone seven games without a goal. Ryan’s 18th goal of the season puts him three behind Corey Perry for the team lead.

It also spoiled an otherwise perfect night for Niemi, who had the unfortunate task of being opposed by Jonas Hiller, who recorded his second shutout in as many games.

Plenty more on him in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:
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Scouting the Sharks.

The Sharks and Ducks meet Sunday for the third time this season, under circumstances very different from any this season or last.

Anaheim has gone 4-1 in its last five games to pull season-high four games over .500. San Jose (21-15-5) has lost two straight, four of six, and just got a tongue-lashing from GM Doug Wilson.

More interesting than how each team is playing is how each team got to this point. Since the teams last met on Nov. 9, rookie forward Logan Couture has 13 goals and eight assists in 29 games to become the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer. They have six forwards (and one defenseman, Dan Boyle) entering play Saturday with at least 27 points – something no other NHL team can claim.

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Sharks 5, Ducks 2.

The gap between first and last in the Pacific Division isn’t getting any smaller, literally or figuratively.


The Ducks are now a full 16 points behind the first-place San Jose Sharks after losing 5-2 on Saturday, their second loss in San Jose in the last nine days. Unlike in their 4-1 loss at HP Pavilion on Dec. 17, in which they kept it close early then fell behind late, the Ducks were outworked early and often, falling behind 5-0 with six minutes still to play in the middle period.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere stuck this one out after getting hit hard, allowing goals to Patrick Marleau (twice), Dany Heatley, Ryane Clowe and Jamie McGinn. Kyle Chipchura and Bobby Ryan scored in the second and third periods, respectively, to turn a blowout into a mere downer.

Chipchura scored his second goal of the season, and second as a Duck, by checking former Duck Kent Huskins to the ice, stealing the puck, and skating in unobstructed with 1:04 left in the second period.

Ryan had to work a little harder for his 17th goal of the season, crashing the net for the rebound of a Corey Perry shot, then whacking it in between the legs of Evgeni Nabokov (32 saves) at 4:39 of the third period.

Ryan Getzlaf left the game in the second period after sustaining a cut on his leg in traffic, but color analyst Brian Hayward said after the game that the injury isn’t serious.

Duck killer Joe Thornton had three assists and Sharks captain Rob Blake added two. George Parros, Chipchura, and Matt Beleskey all dropped the gloves for the Ducks, fighting Frazer McLaren, Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer, respectively.

The Ducks (15-16-7) return home to face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at Honda Center.

San Jose 4, Ducks 1.

Joe Thornton had a jumbo night at HP Pavilion: Two goals andtwo assists, helping the Sharks break a five-game losing streak at the Ducks’ expense.

The final score doesn’t reflect a game that Jean-Sebastien Giguere did well to keep close for 53 minutes. It was 2-1when Thornton scored on a power-play putback at 13:23 of the final period,and Devin Setoguchi made 4-1 at the 16:11 mark following a neutral-zone turnover — one of 20 in the game by the Ducks.

Giguere sprinkled in some beauties among his 33 saves, getting the start after Jonas Hiller won the night before in Vancouver. Ryan Getzlaf scored 34 seconds into the final period, taking a nice passto completea breakaway strike with the Ducks skating 5-on-4.

If you’re close to a radio, go catch me on 830-AM for the postgame “Duck Calls” show with Josh Brewster.