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Not the start Sharks were looking for
Ducks unphased by San Jose's home record
4/16/09 - By Mike Lee -

So much for that President's Trophy. So much for the best home ice record in the NHL. With home ice on their side, the Sharks kicked off the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs the same way they ended the regular season. With a thud. San Jose's high energy offense opened the game with after burners on full, but a failure to score would doom them in a 2-0 loss the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at HP Pavilion. The Sharks top line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi went AWOL, including misfires on 6 power play chances.

Anaheim countered with Jonas Hiller's 35 save performance in his NHL playoff debut to earn the shutout victory on a night that was supposed to be San Jose's launching point toward their first Stanley Cup. Nobody told that to the Ducks, who weathered the storm in the first two periods, then capitalized in the 3rd period.

The Sharks opened the game with an up tempo style that has been lacking of late, but San Jose just couldn't find a way to finish. Perhaps more focus on laying the body took away from getting pressure on Hiller, who wasn't really challenged in the opening 20 minutes of play.

"We have to open it up a little more," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "It's pretty obvious you have to score goals to win the playoffs. Offensively we have to be better"

His only real threat in the period came with 3:18 left, when he stoned Ryane Clowe in tight after the Sharks forecheck forced a turnover and created the scoring chance for the Sharks forward.

A 2nd period Ducks parade to the penalty box opened the door for San Jose, but the intensity that charged the opening period failed to materialize. Rob Neidermayer was whistled for high sticking and holding 6 minutes apart early in the period, but San Jose only generated 3 shots on goal during the two power play chances, all of the long range variety.

"I don't know if you can say it was a perfect hockey game on our part by any means of the imagination," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "We took far too many penalties. We wore down all of the penalty killers and most of our players."

Sheldon Brookbank leveled former Duck forward Travis Moen as the Sharks were trying to clear their own zone, but the Anaheim defenseman got a little overzealous and the left winger too soon, drawing an interference penalty.

The Sharks would go on to waste their 3rd power play opportunity of the night by failing to generate any chances in close. Rob Blake put three shots on Hiller from 50 plus feet out.

Christian Ehrhoff took the initiative later in the period by carrying in on net from the left point, but his shot pin-balled off a Ducks defenseman. The puck scooted across the crease where Marcel Goc was perched, but the centerman couldn't get a stick on the puck after crashing in on the goal. Jeremy Roenick was pinned up against the crossbar with his stick pinched between him and the goal after Ryan Getzlaf cleared him out of the play with a hip check. With Getzlaf the only thing between the goal and the puck, Goc whiffed on two attempts, before Getzlaf kicked the puck clear of danger.

Clowe would take an elbowing penalty late in the period to put the Ducks on the man advantage and it almost bit San Jose. Todd Marchant tried slipping a shot past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, but the puck hit the right post and sat precariously in the crease. Teemu Selanne was skating in the vicinity of the puck, but his shot attempt was denied by the iron as he tried jamming it home from the right side.

The Ducks would finally crack through with a power play goal at 5:18 after Jonathan Cheechoo tripped Selanne on an Anaheim breakout. Scott Neidermayer would whip a shot from the top of the right cicle past Nabokov after Getzlaf sent a cross ice pass from the left wing boards.

Ehrhoff would hit the crossbar with a shot 8 minutes into the period, just missing the equalizer after Hiller misread the shot.

The Neidermayer goal seemed to energize the Ducks, which translated into more scoring opportunities. Bobby Ryan had a golden opportunity from 25 feet out, but he put a shot into Nabokov's glove after the Sharks netminder had gone down to stop a shot.

Dan Boyle missed on two chances of his own later in the period. First he would duplicate Ehrhoff's close call by clanking a shot off the crossbar, then with Corey Perry in the box for slashing he had a chance in tight on the power play that he failed to put past Hiller. With the Sharks on the mad advantage, Boyle took a feed from the point just outside the left post and walked in on Hiller, but his shot attempt hit the netminder in the crest to squelch the chance.

"Zero goals," said Boyle. "You gotta be a little hungrier than that. You have to create your opportunities in front of the net."

Getzlaf was sent off for elbowing at 15:26 giving the Sharks their 6th and final power play of the night. Failing to get bodies in front of Hiller, San Jose would waste yet another chance to get on the board.

The would slit their own wrists when Marc-Edouard Vlasic put a cross-ice pass right on Getzlaf's stick as the Duck forward exited the penalty box. Getzlaf then took the puck up the center of the ice and snapped a 40 foot shot past Nabokov with 2:25 to play.

Carlyle liked what he saw from his forward.

"We would like to see him shoot the puck like he did on a regular basis," added Carlyle. "When you see him shoot the puck like that, you wonder why he always wants to pass it. We are always after him to shoot the puck. He has to play extremely well for us to have any chance in this series."

Cheechoo would take another careless tripping penalty 20 seconds later, upending Selanne again to kill any thought of a comeback.

"Before the game started we talked about what physical play meant," said McLellan. "It's not always to finish checks. It's about faceoffs, it's about loose ice, it's about getting to the net. That comes into our definition of physical play. Did we do a good job of that? I think we can do better."

In the end, the Sharks get to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan to salvage a win at home before the series heads south on Tuesday.

Game Notes:

The Sharks out shot Anaheim 35-17. Alexei Semanov, Jamie McGinn and Tomas Plihal were healthy scratches for San Jose. Claude Lemieux is not on the Sharks quarter final roster. Todd Marchant won of 24 faceoffs. Joe Pavelski on the other hand lost 13 of 18, including all 13 against Marchant.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
ANA 0 0 2 2
SJ 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, ANA, S. Neidermayer 1 (Getzlaf, Whitney), 5:18, (pp). 2, ANA, Getzlaf 1 (Brown), 17:35.
Penalties
1st period - Boyle, SJ (tripping), 18:30.
2nd period - R. Neidermayer, ANA (high sticking), 1:29; R. Neidermayer, ANA (holding), 7:22; Brookbank, ANA (interference), 11:46; Clowe, SJ (elbowing), 16:52; R. Neidermayer, ANA (hooking), 19:13.
3rd period - Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 4:10; Perry, ANA (slashing), 9:23; Getzlaf, ANA (elbowing), 15:26; Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 17:56.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
ANA - Hiller 35 35
SJ - Nabokov 17 15
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ANA 4 7 6 17
SJ 8 14 13 35
Power Play Conversion
ANA 1 of 4
SJ 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Jonas Hiller
Ryan Getzlaf
Todd Marchant
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Jackson, Sutherland. Linesmen: Murray, Sharrers.

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