The new-look Anaheim Ducks are concentrating on short shifts, constant energy and a furious tempo.
That’s how a fresh Adam Henrique found himself stealing the puck at mid-ice and blowing right past some weary Sharks into the crease for a backhand goal that sent the Ducks cruising toward another early-season win over a Pacific Division opponent.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf scored, Ondrej Kase had two assists and Anaheim remained unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over winless San Jose on Saturday night at Honda Center.
Michael Del Zotto also scored and John Gibson made 35 saves for the Ducks, who have won back-to-back home games over Arizona and San Jose in an auspicious start under new coach Dallas Eakins. The Ducks have embraced Eakins’ desire for speed and tempo, and Henrique already sees obvious results.
“Quicker shifts allow everybody to be at a higher pace,” Henrique said. ”It allowed us in that game at times to take over, and continue the pressure and create a few more chances for us. You never want to be sitting back. [The goal] was kind of a combination of everything we were working on.”
Anaheim missed the playoffs last spring for the first time since 2012, prompting big changes for the longtime contenders. The Ducks are sending out the youngest roster in franchise history, but veterans and holdovers made the biggest plays against San Jose.
Kase was particularly relentless, playing a role in all three Ducks goals — picking up two primary assists and serving as a decoy on Henrique’s drive to the net. The speedy Czech forward’s name appeared in trade rumors before the season, but he is off to a start that epitomizes what Eakins wants to see out of his club.
“He was all over pucks,” Eakins said. ”Every time that puck was loose, he was there. Every time we had it, he was coming to it. He was moving his feet. He was excited.”
Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who have lost three straight in four days. Aaron Dell stopped 30 shots, but San Jose has been outscored 12-3 during its rough start against Pacific rivals Vegas and Anaheim.
Forward Marcus Sorensen also left the game in the second period with an apparent injury, and coach Peter DeBoer didn’t have an update afterward.
“I think our effort was there all night,” DeBoer said. ”I thought for three [games in] four nights and being on the road, I thought especially our big guys played really hard.”
The Sharks have made the playoffs in an astonishing 18 of the past 20 seasons, but they’ve showed potential flaws in their defensive depth and in net during the first three games of their first season since parting with longtime captain Joe Pavelski.
“Usually the teams that work harder win games,” Couture said. ”And in all three so far, the other team has outworked us.”
Del Zotto put Anaheim ahead 3:38 in with his first goal for the Ducks, who acquired him last season and then reacquired him in the summer after trading him to the Blues for their Stanley Cup title run. His goal was created by Kase, who stole a pass by Dell behind the net and fed Del Zotto for a shot into an open goal.
Couture evened it early in the second period, but just 67 seconds later, Getzlaf skated onto a sweet pass from Kase and made a slick move to beat Dell. Getzlaf got his 262nd career goal — and his first since Corey Perry’s summer contract buyout ended their 14-year partnership with Anaheim.
Henrique then scored late in the second after taking the puck from Tomas Hertl and slaloming to the crease to roof a backhand.
Gibson was strong in a scoreless third period. He has stopped 67 of 69 shots to start the season.