Kearns scores 1st NHL goal!
SAN JOSE -- Bracken Kearns had never scored an NHL goal before Sunday night, when he gave the San Jose Sharks a commanding three-goal lead midway through the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at SAP Center.
Sharks center Logan Couture felt like he had gone a lifetime without a goal before snapping an 11-game drought with his 100th career goal midway through the first period.
San Jose used those milestone goals, along with Brent Burns' goal 77 seconds after the puck dropped, to beat Anaheim 3-1 and snap the Ducks' franchise record 10-game winning streak.
The Sharks extended their own winning streak to four games. The victory was San Jose's fourth straight against the Ducks overall and the second this season; the teams complete their home-and-home series Tuesday night at Anaheim, where the Ducks are 14-0-2 this season.
"A huge two games," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We kind of spoke about that before the game. These four points are huge. They're kind of running away with our division right now and tonight we kind of grabbed them and brought them back a little bit. Tuesday's going to be another huge game against them so we'll be ready. But to get this one at home is huge."
Anaheim leads the Pacific Division with 61 points, but second-place San Jose closed the gap to five points and has two games in hand. The Ducks lost for the first time since Dec. 3, when they fell 3-2 in a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It's pretty special," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said of the streak. "It's something that doesn't happen often. You're playing against the best players in the world, so to be able to do that as a group, you should be proud of. You're going to lose eventually. It can't go on forever, but we can't be satisfied with that. And losing this one, this was a big game for us.
"I think we came out a little bit flat, which is unfortunate. You're happy with the streak, but now we've lost one in a row so it's time to kind of take a reality check and get ready for the next one."
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 30 saves to earn his 21st win. He lost his shutout bid when Patrick Maroon scored his third goal of the season with 8:28 left in regulation.
Ducks rookie Frederik Andersen, making his first career start against San Jose, stopped 20 shots.
The Ducks played the second of back-to-back games Sunday, just as they did Nov. 30 when they lost 4-3 in a shootout at SAP Center. This time, San Jose snapped Anaheim's six-game road winning streak and seven-game road point streak. Both streaks ended one game shy of tying franchise records.
Burns put the Sharks ahead 1:17 into the game when he wristed a shot from the slot past Andersen for his 12th goal. Andersen had stopped a blast by Joe Pavelski from the circle, but he couldn't control the rebound, and Burns made him pay.
"Jump on them early," Couture said. "They were coming off a game last night where they went to overtime to win. We knew they usually start quick, but we start quick in this building and we wanted to jump on them early and we were able to do that."
Couture made it 2-0 at 10:07 with a highlight-reel goal. He took a long pass in the neutral zone from Burns, turned on the jets to blow past Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, then faked left, cut right and flipped a backhander shot over Andersen's left shoulder.
"It's about time," Couture said. "I was happy to score. Forgot what it felt like."
Couture hadn't scored since hitting an empty net Dec. 3 at the Toronto Maple Leafs and had three goals in his previous 25 games. He reached 100 career goals in 271 games, the second-fastest in team history to Jonathan Cheechoo's 246 games.
"It's special," Couture said of his 100th goal. "It's a big number. I was stuck on 99 for a while. But it's definitely special and one I'll remember."
Kearns increased San Jose's lead to 3-0 at 9:16 of the second period. The son of former NHL defenseman Dennis Kearns, who was called up Saturday from Worcester of the American Hockey League, became the oldest player in franchise history to score his first goal, at 32 years and 231 days.
"It was amazing, absolutely amazing," Kearns said. "It felt so good."
Kearns has played just eight regular-season NHL games, but he was in the lineup for all seven games last season in the Sharks' Western Conference Semifinal series against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I owe it to this organization," Kearns said. "They gave me an opportunity. I don't know how many organizations out there would give a 32-year-old an opportunity like they gave me last year in the playoffs. You just keep working at it and setting your goals high. I've dreamt about scoring in the NHL since I was a kid so it's an amazing feeling."
Andersen made a save on Andrew Desjardins' wraparound shot, but the puck trickled into the slot, and a hard-charging Kearns scored on a wrist shot.
Andersen was more concerned about the two quick goals San Jose scored in the first period.
"We knew they would come fast in the first period, but we weren't prepared for that I guess," Andersen said. "That's all on us. We're got to be ready from the start to beat them in their rink."
The Ducks appeared to jam the puck past Niemi with 14:54 left to play, but after a review, video officials ruled it was not a goal.
Maroon got the Ducks on the board when he took a pass in the left circle from Corey Perry and ripped a shot high and to the far side past Niemi.
Sharks forward Tommy Wingels was hurt less than two minutes into in the game during a collision with Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric that sent him awkwardly into the boards. Wingels struggled to get off the ice, went immediately to the dressing room and did not return to the game. He played 51 seconds over two shifts. Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he hadn't received a medical report on Wingels' condition other than he suffered an upper-body injury.
Fistric appeared to be shaken up as well, but he returned to the ice with about 15 minutes left in the first period.
Ducks forward Daniel Winnik, who played 21 games with the Sharks in 2011-12, went to the dressing room with 7:50 left in the second period after a battle with San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Winnik was bleeding profusely from the bridge of his nose and appeared to be furious with Vlasic, but returned for the start of the third period.
"He got elbowed or butt-ended, one of the two," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They said [Vlasic] was in the act of shooting."
Anaheim did not retaliate, but Boudreau said the Ducks "maybe should have done something" after Winnik was hurt. "We've got to address some things tomorrow."