It was more of the same for the Ducks, at least for the first 30 minutes.
Following four straight losses, Ryan Getzlaf called the team’s play “embarrassing” after a lopsided defeat to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
The Ducks’ performance Sunday at Honda Center represented little change until they sprung to life in the third with one of their best efforts of the season.
Pontus Aberg scored twice, including a dazzling goal-of-the-year candidate that tied the score, but the Ducks fell to the San Jose Sharks in overtime 4-3 on Timo Meier’s second goal of the night.
Still, this was an improvement: shades of hope for a team that was listless through most of two periods. The Ducks managed to push the game to the extra period and scraped out their first point since a victory over the New York Islanders almost two weeks ago.
The way they’ve languished, they’ll latch onto any slice of positivity in hopes of ending this skid.
The Ducks did plenty of that during the opening period. They were outshot 19-8 and outmuscled off the puck in one-on-one battles. Turnovers were an issue, and a timely mistake from Brian Gibbons cost the Ducks early.
After the fourth-liner lost the puck in the defensive zone, Brent Burns’ point blast caromed off the boards behind goalie John Gibson, around the net, and onto the stick of Logan Couture. He capitalized, scoring 2:34 into the game. Less than two minutes later, the Ducks answered when Getzlaf found a streaking Josh Manson for his first goal.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead when Tomas Hertl’s wraparound attempt was denied by Gibson, but Rourke Chartier collected the rebound and scored with a spin-around shot 2:13 into the second.
San Jose made it 3-1 almost two minutes later with a Meier one-timer off the rush.
The game seemed out of reach when Meier stole the puck from Manson and wristed it past Gibson later in the second period, but Ducks coach Randy Carlyle challenged for offside and succeeded.
He credited the turn of events as a morale booster for the squad, one that played with renewed vigor.
“We just have to find a way to make sure we stay positive and stay on top of the things we need to improve on,” Carlyle said. “There is our fair share of work that needs to be done, but for us it’s about taking the next step.”
Aberg tallied his first goal after a behind-the-net Getzlaf feed with about three minutes remaining in the second. The Swede acknowledged it was a “lucky bounce,” but noted it was the “confidence builder” he needed. After all, it was the winger’s first goal since March when he was still a member of the Edmonton Oilers.
It didn’t take long for him to score again, and it’s a moment he won’t soon forget.
Aberg stole the puck in the neutral zone, picked up a full head of steam, turned Joakim Ryan around with a nifty toe drag, and then slid over to the other side of the defenseman with a wrist shot that easily blew by Martin Jones.