After leading the NHL last season in power-play efficiency, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks were only 1-for-12 with the man advantage in their first three games.
It took a couple of five-on-three skating situations on Monday for the Ducks to put the power back in their power play, as Fredrik Olausson and Oleg Tverdovsky scored 53 seconds apart in the final minute of the first period en route to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
"We certainly capitalized on them, and that's what you have to do when you get those opportunities," Ducks captain Paul Kariya said. "You have to score, especially when you get a long five-on-three for 30 seconds or longer. We accomplished that, but our five-on-four power play still needs a lot of work."
"The way we played in the third period, I'm not sure it would have mattered," Sharks assistant coach Paul Baxter said. "When you get outshot 18-4, that's not good enough. Besides, three goals should be good enough to win on the road."
After totaling only three goals in their first three games including an empty-netter the Ducks scored four times in an 8:06 span to graa 4-1 lead and chase Mike Vernon to the bench just 2:40 after the first intermission.
"After those first two games when we didn't score, we knew we couldn't start panicking," said Teemu Selanne, who set up three goals in a 5:21 span. "We knew the goals would start coming if we stayed patient and kept working hard. We needed one good game to get the confidence back, and we got it."
McInnis capped the barrage with his first goal of the season, using defenseman Andy Sutton as a screen and beating Vernon high to the stick side from just inside the blue line with Anaheim's 12th shot.
Steve Shields replaced Vernon and stopped all 25 shots he faced, while his teammates scored twice in a three-minute span to slice the deficit to 4-3 with 6:31 left in the second. Rucchin scored Anaheim's fifth goal into an empty net with two seconds left.
"It's a tough job to come in cold off the bench like that, but Shields played great and made it really close," Ducks goaltender Guy Hebert said. "It was exactly what they needed. I was hoping we could get one by him early on and put him on his heels the rest of the game."
Vincent Damphousse beat Hebert with a wraparound and Alex Korolyuk skated around two defenders before stuffing the puck inside the right post to put the Sharks within a goal. A giveaway in the Anaheim end by defenseman Pavel Trnka led to Korolyuk's second goal of the contest.
"The way we played in the second period is not the way we want to play hockey," Selanne said. "When we're leading 4-1, we shouldn't give any life to those guys. We stopped skating and we stopped working hard. We don't have that great a team that we can take one period off."
After spotting San Jose the early lead on Korolyuk's sharp-angle wrist shot through Hebert's pads at 13:33 of the opening period, the Ducks tied the score just 61 seconds later on Cullen's first goal of the season.
Vernon stopped Selanne at the edge of the crease, but was upended by teammate Bob Rouse as the Sharks' defenseman tried to block the shot. Selanne retrieved the puck behind the net and Cullen converted the pass from 10 feet out while Vernon was scrambling back to his feet.
The Ducks scored their next two goals late in the period with the Sharks two men short.
Mike Ricci was called for holding and teammate Owen Nolan was sent off for interference on the goalie just 59 seconds later after crashing into Hebert with the puck in his possession. It was the best scoring chance by the Sharks' captain, whose four-game goal streak was stopped.
About two minutes after Vernon stopped Selanne on a breakaway to keep the score tied at 1, Olausson put Anaheim ahead to stay just 58 seconds before the first intermission. He beat Vernon with a 35-footer as Rucchin leaped in front of him to avoid getting hit with the shot.
Seconds before the goal, a delayed penalty was called against Damphousse for holding and Tverdovsky converted Selanne's pass through the crease during the ensuing two-man advantage.
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