SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – After erasing Anaheim’s 13-point lead in the standings the past two months, a one-goal deficit in the third period was only a minor speed bump for Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks.
Burns scored the game-winning goal with 3:59 to play after assisting on the tying goal earlier in the third to help the Sharks take sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time in more than three months with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
“He is a wrecking ball,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said of Burns. “He’s a one-man wrecking crew out there when he plays that way.”
Joe Thornton tied the game earlier in the third and got his second assist on the game-winner for the Sharks, who have won seven of eight to move two points ahead of Anaheim although the Ducks have a game in hand. San Jose, which trailed by 13 points after games on Jan. 15, has not been alone in first since Dec. 6.
“This was something we’ve had our eye on for a while,” forward Tommy Wingels said. “Now that we’ve got a grasp of it, we can’t look back. We’ve got to keep the pedal down and try to pull away. We worked this hard to get here, we can’t give it up now.”
Patrick Marleau also scored and Antti Niemi made 26 saves for San Jose.
Teemu Selanne and Mathieu Perreault scored for the Ducks, who have lost six of their last eight. Frederik Andersen made 25 saves.
“It was a tough game but that’s what happens when two good teams go at it and fight tooth and nail,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Everybody knew the importance of this game. Both teams looked focused and played to the end.”
Burns, who assisted on Thornton’s goal, was on the receiving end on the game-winner when he crashed the net and deflected Thornton’s centering pass from the boards past Andersen.
“He made a good play, shot to the middle there for me and I was lucky to get a stick on it and put it in,” Burns said.
Burns put together a personal highlight reel in the third period, getting the assist on Thornton’s goal on a 2-on-1 and then flattening Corey Perry with a hit with his backside that energized the Sharks and their loud crowd a few shifts before his game-winner.
“He’s just a beast out there,” Thornton said. “Nobody can handle his size and his speed. It just forces you to try to keep up with him because he’s going so fast. It’s great to watch.”
Red Wings 5, Penguins 4 (OT)
In Detroit, Daniel Alfredsson scored his second goal of the game with 1 second left in overtime.
Kings 2, Capitals 1 (SO)
In Los Angeles, Marian Gaborik got the deciding goal in the shootout and the Kings beat Washington to give Darryl Sutter his 500th regular-season victory as an NHL coach.
Flyers 4, Stars 2
In Philadelphia, Wayne Simmonds scored two goals and the Flyers beat Dallas for their fourth straight win.
Sabres 3, Oilers 1
In Edmonton, Cory Conacher had two goals and an assist and Buffalo beat the Oilers.
Coyotes 2, Panthers 1
In Glendale, Arizona, Radim Vrbata and Antoine Vermette scored first-period goals.
Blue Jackets 3, Canadiens 2
In Montreal, Ryan Johansen scored late in the third period.
Devils 4, Wild 3 (OT)
In Newark, New Jersey, Andy Greene scored from in close 2 minutes into overtime and the Devils snapped a three-game losing streak.
Lightning 5, Senators 4
In Ottawa, Teddy Purcell scored twice and Ryan Callahan had a power-play goal midway through the third period.