December was supposed to be a month that would really test an Anaheim Ducks team that still draws plenty of doubters. Instead, they’ve really just distanced themselves from the Pacific Division pack.
The San Jose Sharks have been just as hot this month, so the new state rivals presented an intriguing battle, and they didn’t disappoint. Ultimately, Ryan Kesler’s overtime game-winner ended up making the difference as Anaheim won 3-2 (OT).
That’s the kind of shot that prompted the Ducks to trade Kesler for, but it turns out that Antti Niemi had foiled the American-born forward on previous occasions tonight:
The Ducks have dealt with injuries and illnesses (not to mention a stretch in which they played seven of eight games on the road from Dec. 5-19), yet they keep winning games. If you ask Cam Fowler, it’s just a matter of will.
“We continue to develop the mentality that we never give up,” Fowler said. “We’ll go into this break and enjoy this win.”
It’s been quite a run for the Sharks since they fell to 10-10-4 in a 2-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Nov. 26. Since then, San Jose went 9-1-1 in 11 games.
That hasn’t been enough to gain much ground against Anaheim – they’re 8-2-0 in 10 games – but San Jose now finds themselves second in the division.
Not bad for a team that was in dire condition not that long ago, yet the Ducks can still gloat that they’re a stride or two ahead of the Sharks.