Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist before playing an important role in the clever scheme that led to Rakell’s game-winning goal. Anthony Stolarz made 20 saves in Anaheim’s fourth victory in 11 games and its third win on the longest homestand of the season.
“I thought we battled throughout the whole game,” said Rakell, a trade candidate who has eight goals in his last 12 games. “It was a tough game, but it was nice to come out with the two points. Pucks weren’t really bouncing our way, but I thought we just kept battling.”
Marc-Édouard Vlasic ended his 76-game goal drought and Logan Couture also scored for the Sharks, who have lost 11 of 13. Zach Sawchenko stopped 33 shots in his first NHL start for San Jose, which rebounded solidly from an embarrassing 8-0 loss to Nashville one night earlier.
But after Sonny Milano scored the tying goal early in the third period, Rakell won it in overtime at the conclusion of a slick play drawn up by Ducks coach Dallas Eakins and his staff.
After Henrique won the opening faceoff, Cam Fowler and Troy Terry took the puck backward while Henrique drifted toward the bench door nearest to center ice. Terry fired a sharp cross-ice pass to Rakell when he came out the bench door closest to San Jose’s goal, sneaking onto the ice behind Couture and quickly beating Sawchenko for his 16th goal of the season.
“It’s hard to defend when that comes up and it goes really well,” Eakins said. “It was certainly well-executed.”
After an apparent review, the officials determined Rakell was onside and the Ducks didn’t have too many men on the ice. The decision infuriated the Sharks, who contended Henrique wasn’t far enough out of the play.
“It’s just a complete, disastrous blown call,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner claimed. “(The officials) don’t even come over to the bench. They race off the ice (without) the respect to come and explain it. Everybody missed it. If you watch the replay, it’s too many men, all day long.”
Terry and Fowler had two assists apiece in the latest matchup of two former California powerhouses struggling to get into playoff contention for yet another season.
Jacob Middleton appeared to score a shorthanded tiebreaking goal for the Sharks with 7:03 to play on an odd-man counterattack with Matt Nieto, but Anaheim used its challenge and officials determined Middleton had gone offside before his score.
“It’s about us, because we took some (bad) penalties and had a couple of mistakes,” Sharks forward Tomáš Hertl said. “We had a lot of chances, and we let them in the game.”
Anaheim was without All-Star goalie John Gibson (lower body) and captain Ryan Getzlaf (upper body) due to new injuries. The Ducks then lost forward Isac Lundestrom in the first period with a lower-body injury that apparently happened when he barreled into the boards after missing Timo Meier with an attempted check.
San Jose is still without top goalie James Reimer and star defenseman Erik Karlsson. The 24-year-old Sawchenko finally got his first start after appearing four times in relief this season.
Couture’s close-range goal put the Sharks ahead near the midway point of the first period before the Ducks had even registered their first shot on goal. Henrique scored a tying goal early in the second when a high rebound of Max Comtois’ shot ricocheted off Henrique’s body and went in.
Vlasic got credit for putting the Sharks back ahead just 76 seconds later when his long, off-target shot fortuitously deflected off Kevin Shattenkirk’s shin pads well in front of Stolarz.
Vlasic, the 16-year Sharks veteran, hadn’t scored in his first 48 games this season. He also scored just one goal — on March 8, 2021 — in 51 appearances last season.
Milano evened it again in the waning moments of the second period, converting a rebound for his 12th goal of the season, two off his career high.
Sharks: At Kings on Thursday.
Ducks: At Blackhawks on Tuesday.