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Home Not So Sweet in Series

The road team has taken each of the first three games in the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Ducks and Sharks. Anaheim hopes to reverse that trend in Game 4 on Thursday night

Wednesday, 04.22.2009 / 3:46 PM PT / Features
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Home Not So Sweet in Series
By Matt Vevoda

"That theory can go out the door with a win tomorrow night at home here," said Marchant on the road team's knack for success in the series. "We didn't play a bad game in Game 3, but we didn't play the way we can play. We know we have to be better in Game 4."
In a battle between two of the best road teams in the Western Conference, it’s no surprise home-ice has not been an advantage in the first round playoff series between the Ducks and Sharks.

After Anaheim wrestled away the first two games of the best-of-seven set in San Jose, the Ducks fell just short of continuing that momentum in their first game at Honda Center and were defeated by the Sharks 4-3 Tuesday night. A crucial Game 4 for both teams is on tap for Thursday in Orange County and the boys in black and orange are eager to reverse the trend of the road team taking the first three games.

“That theory can go out the door with a win tomorrow night at home here,” Ducks forward Todd Marchant said. “We didn’t play a bad game in Game 3, but we didn’t play the way can play. We didn’t play with the same sort of hunger and urgency that we did in Games 1 and 2. Against a great team like San Jose you can’t afford to do that. We know we have to be better in Game 4.”

Coming out of the gate strong on Thursday will be imperative for both teams, but even more so for the Ducks. Not only would that immediately re-establish momentum in Anaheim’s favor, but it would also play to their strength.

Ducks in 2008-09 Regular Season

Winning % when scoring first
(.791, third in the NHL)

Winning % when scored on first
(.205, 27th in the NHL).

During the regular season, the Ducks had a far better winning percentage (.791, third in the league) when scoring the first goal of the game than when they surrendered the first tally (.205, 27th). It’s continued in the postseason, as Anaheim scored first in Games 1 and 2, but not in Game 3. The Ducks did come back to tie the game on three separate occasions last night, but could never take the lead.

“It’s been something that has been happening a lot during the whole year,” Marchant said. “We’d obviously like to get that first goal. As we showed last night, we didn’t quit or give up. We came back every time. It would have been nice to get that next one and go up and see how they reacted to being down.”
"You obviously have to be aware of Boyle (bottom) when he is out there," Scott NIedermayer (top) said. "He skates and is up the ice. If we can catch him up there, maybe slow him up and prevent him from getting back right away, we'll try."
Another subplot that continues to rear its head in each game is the special teams battle between the two California rivals. Anaheim’s power play has been fairly consistent, scoring one goal in each game (3-for-10 overall, two from Bobby Ryan). Going 12-for-12 on the penalty kill, the Ducks had also managed to thoroughly silence San Jose’s potent power play in the first two games of the series. But last night, the Sharks came through on two of three man-advantage opportunities (including the game-winner in the third by Patrick Marleau).

“That power play is not a power play you want to give too many opportunities to,” said Bobby Ryan, who was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy (league’s top rookie) on Wednesday. “In Games 1 and 2, they were close a lot of times. We knew it was a matter of time before they started to find the back of the net on it. We saw that last night. Today is a day to put it in the past and move forward. Certainly, we have to bring a little more discipline to Game 4.”

While center Joe Thornton deservedly gets a lot of attention on the Sharks power play, defensemen Dan Boyle and Rob Blake were dominating the talk in the Ducks locker room after an optional practice at Honda Center on Wednesday. The two first-year San Jose d-men each had a hand in both power play goals (Boyle scored the first, and assisted with Blake on the second). Overall, the two blueliners combined for three goals and five points on the night.

“We know they are dynamic players and they play a huge part of their backend,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle of the San Jose defensive pair. “We didn’t do a very good job defending early and we got back on our heels. We turned the puck over early in the hockey game. It seemed that we were playing catch-up all night.”

"With a 2-1 lead and Game 4 being in your building, it certainly puts us in the driver's seat," Ryan (right) said. "It's a game we have to have tomorrow night."
Two of Anaheim’s superb defensemen were already strategizing ways to limit their two counterparts from having such a big impact on the outcome of the game. “We have to close Blake out and not give him as much time as he had last night,” Chris Pronger said. “He was able to walk down and take his pick of shooting or trying to make a pass cross-crease. Closing him out is going to be pretty important for us moving forward.”

Said Scott Niedermayer, “You obviously have to be aware of Boyle when he is out there. He skates and is up the ice. If we can catch him down there, maybe slow him up and prevent him from getting back right away, we’ll try. We need to do a better job of finding where he is at.”

While a win by the Sharks has given them some life in this series, the Ducks still feel in control of their fate being up 2 games to 1. Game 4 will be critical for both teams and if it’s anything like last night, there should be no shortage of thrills.

“With a 2-1 lead and Game 4 being in your building, it certainly puts us in the driver’s seat,” Ryan said. “It’s a game we have to have tomorrow night.”




1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 53 21 20 12 123 143 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47


C. Perry 52 21 17 -3 38
R. Getzlaf 48 5 33 9 38
R. Rakell 49 13 15 -2 28
R. Kesler 52 11 15 -8 26
S. Vatanen 52 6 19 -1 25
C. Stewart 46 8 9 2 17
J. Silfverberg 52 6 11 -2 17
A. Cogliano 52 6 11 -9 17
H. Lindholm 51 6 8 -5 14
C. Fowler 39 3 9 -11 12
F. Andersen 11 8 5 .920 2.27
J. Gibson 12 8 2 .917 2.13

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