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After a two-day break, the all-California playoff series between the Ducks and Sharks returns for Game 2 at HP Pavilion on Sunday.
Behind a 35-save shutout from Jonas Hiller (in his NHL playoff debut) and a strong penalty kill, Anaheim quickly took home-ice advantage away from the Sharks with a 2-0 victory in Game 1. But the Ducks know they will have to be even stronger in Game 2 if they are to bring a two-game series lead back with them to Orange County.
"A lot of bounces went our way," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "Favorable bounces, them hitting posts, a crossbar. We have to prepare for a much more spirited hockey game on Sunday."
Although the Sharks were the NHL's best team for most of the regular season, their middling play down the stretch bled over into Game 1, where Anaheim (on goals from Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf) beat them despite the Sharks' 2-to-1 edge in shots.
The defeat immediately conjured memories of three straight second-round playoff losses for the Sharks, who are well aware they're considered the NHL's biggest playoff underachievers. Given last season's four-overtime loss to Dallas in the Stars' series clincher, San Jose hasn't scored in 147 minutes, 24 seconds.
|2009 Conference Quarterfinal|
"We can't get emotionally high or low," Jeremy Roenick said. "We can't sit here and say, 'Here we go again.' That would be the worst thing we could do. This is a long, long process if you're doing it right, and we're committed to trying to do it the right way from the first game to the last."
While the teams in the other seven NHL playoff series all had played two games by Saturday, the Ducks and Sharks were stuck waiting around the entire weekend for their Game 2, in part because a ventriloquist already was booked into the Shark Tank on Saturday night.
Nobody had to do the talking for Carlyle or San Jose coach Todd McLellan during their clubs' practices at the Sharks' training complex Saturday. Both coaches screamed at their teams early in the workouts, demanding more intensity and focus.
"The building got quiet," Carlyle said, giving the reason for his tongue-lashing. "Every day we go on the ice surface, we've got to accomplish something."
McLellan said he doesn't think it's too early to consider lineup changes. Although not as quick to break up his scoring lines as former Sharks coach Ron Wilson, McLellan has tinkered with San Jose's groupings throughout the season, often in response to injuries - and often with great success.
McLellan also has thought about tinkering with his strategy of matching Thornton's line with Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi against Anaheim's powerful top trio of Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. The Sharks thought Thornton's ability to control the puck in the offensive zone would limit the time Getzlaf and Perry would have around San Jose's net, but neither top line generated much heat.