Still up 3 games to 2 in the series, Anaheim returns home on Monday night for a second chance to close out the Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Ducks just missed their first opportunity to end the series in Game 5, losing 3-2 in overtime to top-seeded San Jose. Anaheim now has its best chance in Game 6 in front of a supportive home crowd at Honda Center eager to witness the Ducks become the eighth No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed since 1994.
Although the Ducks had more talent and a better playoff pedigree than several teams above them in the Western Conference standings, they were heavy underdogs to start the series with the Sharks before winning three of the first four. Following the overtime loss in San Jose on Saturday, the Ducks immediately began focusing on their second chance to eliminate the Sharks in Game 6.
"I think everybody in this room realizes that this is part of the process," said Ducks rookie forward Bobby Ryan, who missed about 10 minutes of the third period of Game 5 while getting his skate fixed - not because of an injury. "You dwell on (Game 5) for two hours, but then you put it behind you. That's the beauty of the playoffs. When you're in the lead, you're going to get another shot to end it two days later."
The Sharks gave their most comprehensive effort of the series in their first elimination game, getting goals from all three forwards on their top line: Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi and Joe Thornton, who had a goal and two assists. But the Ducks were still in position to win Game 5, getting goals from Ryan Carter and Corey Perry in the first 4:42 of the third period to force overtime.
"Their backs are against the wall," Pronger said. "They have to win, or they are done. That's a dangerous position to be in, and we understand that. You saw the way they came out. How we played in the third period (of Game 5), that's how we have to play from the start. You know (Marleau and Thornton) will get their points eventually. It's up to us to shut them down. Hopefully we can do a better job of it Monday."
Despite the three goals against, Jonas Hiller continues to be a force between the pipes for the Ducks in his first NHL playoff series. The Swiss goaltender stopped 45 shots from San Jose in Game 5 and his goals-against average now stands at 1.77 with a .953 save percentage through the first five contests of the all-California matchup.