By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – For 82 regular season games, the San Jose Sharks had the best record in the NHL and the league’s third-best power play.
In Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Ducks, they finally showed why.
|The Ducks fought back to tie the game three times, but a Sharks power play goal midway through the third did them in.
After not scoring on 12 power plays in the first two games of the series, San Jose found the net twice, including the lone goal of the third period to down the Ducks 4-3. Anaheim’s lead in the series was trimmed to 2 games to 1, with Game 4 back at Honda Center on Thursday night.
"They are the best team in the league for a reason," said Ducks winger Corey Perry, whose third period penalty led to the Sharks' winning goal. "We are still in the driver’s seat and have another game here on Thursday. We are still in great position. We have to use that home-ice to our advantage. If we come out like we did in San Jose, we’re going to alright."
With the score tied 3-3 midway through the third period, San Jose skated 5 on 4 thanks to a hooking call on Perry as he tried to strip the puck from Dan Boyle in the Anaheim zone.
"In that situation, it’s a dumb time to pick your stick in and it caught us," Perry said. I take full responsibility for that one. I was just trying to make a play, but trying to do too much. With 10 minutes to go in the game, it’s not the best time to take that penalty."
And Patrick Marleau made the Ducks pay, one-timing a Rob Blake feed in the low slot past the lunging glove of goalie Jonas Hiller.
That seemed to take the life out of the Ducks and the home crowd, as Anaheim could find little opportunity to find the equalizer, even when they pulled Hiller for an extra attacker with 90 seconds left.
"I think that we didn’t play to the level that we’ve played in the two previous games," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "I just don’t think we were happy with our team game in a lot of areas. It wasn’t like they didn’t try. They just didn’t execute."
Hiller had carried the Ducks in victories in Games 1 and 2 in San Jose, giving up just two total goals in the two games. And while the Ducks were drastically outshot in both of those, the Sharks finished with a 35-30 shot advantage in this one, despite a dramatic imbalance in the first period.
That thrill-a-minute opening period featured 28 combined shots, four combined goals, plenty of hitting and one George Parros-Douglas Murray fight, and came to a merciful end with the two teams knotted at 2.
San Jose struck first when a Rob Blake slap shot from the point was kick-saved by Hiller, but it ricocheted off the skate of Drew Miller into the goal.
The Ducks got even with a kicked-in goal of their own, as Bobby Ryan put the puck on net from a sharp angle and it lodged behind the skate of Nabokov who kicked it backwards over the stripe.
Dan Boyle put the Sharks back on top with a much more conventional goal on a Sharks power play with 6:53 left. Joe Thornton made a great pass across the slot from the extended goal line and Boyle guided it past Hiller’s outstretched leg pad. It was the first power play goal in 14 opportunities in the series for San Jose, which had gone 0 for 6 in each of the first two games.
"They made some plays on the power play," said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. "You’re not going to stop them from scoring forever. They have a lot of talent out there."
|Pronger's goal got the Ducks even in the second, but that was the last time the Ducks would strike.
James Wisniewski got the Ducks even once again with an absolute missile from the top of the right wing circle that sailed wide of a Rob Niedermayer screen and darted inside the far post while Nabokov moved only his head.
That was the extent of the damage in that first period, in which San Jose threw 20 shots at Hiller. Anaheim was able to tilt the ice more in its favor in the second, outshooting the Sharks 13-8 as the teams each found the net once.
Boyle got his second of the game just 1:05 into the period, as Milan Michalek took a pass at the top of the crease and jammed it on net. The rebound came off Hiller to Boyle, who chipped it under the crossbar.
But Chris Pronger countered with 8:10 left in the period, after Corey Perry battled for the puck in the corner with two Sharks. The puck came off a San Jose stick into the slot, where Pronger pounced on it and ripped a slap shot inside the right post before celebrating with a patented uppercut.
It was the fifth goal among the six in the first two periods scored by a defenseman.
But it was the last payoff for the Ducks, who managed to outshoot San Jose 22-15 over the final two periods and had every attempt in the third thwarted by Nabokov.
"We just weren’t mentally as sharp as you need to be in a big game like this," said Scott Niedermayer. "It was a few little mistakes and that is all it takes. It’s a very fine line. We gradually got back to our game as the game went on, but it was just not enough. We have to do the best we can in the situation we’re in. Rebounding after this game now is what we have to do."
Ryan Whitney has a three-game point streak (0-3=3), having earned an assist in each of the Ducks three postseason games.
James Wisniewski scored his first career playoff goal tonight. He has earned points in two consecutive games (1-1=2).
Bobby Ryan has a two-game goal streak (2-0=2), with both being scored on the power play.
Ryan Getzlaf has earned points in two of the Ducks’ three postseason contests (1-2=3).
In his first three career playoff games, Jonas Hiller has stopped 108-of-114 shots for a .947 SV% and 2.01GAA (6 GA/179 MIN).
Tonight’s attendance was 16,277.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Time runs out on the Ducks as they fall 4-3 and their series lead is trimmed to 2 games to 1.
19:45 - San Jose pins it behind their net for an eternity.
18:35 - Hiller to the bench.
18:08 - Ducks call timeout with 1:52 left.
18:08 - Ryan fires one from deep on the right wing and it nearly gets under Nabokov.
16:35 - Ebbett deftly one-times a Ryan pass from behind the cage, saved by Nabokov.
15:14 - Ducks come out of the last timeout with Miller-Marchant-Niedermayer with Niedermayer and Wisniewski.
14:30 - The life has been drained out of this building. For now.
11:28 - We go to the timeout with 8:32 left, the Ducks needing one to even it.
10:33 - SAN JOSE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - PATRICK MARLEAU - Blake skates into the right wing circle and feeds Marleau in the low slot, and Marleau redirects it past the lunging glove of Hiller. Big goal for San Jose, their second on the power play, and they lead 4-3.
9:07 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. hooking. Perry appears to pick the pocket of Boyle, but the hand goes up. Tough to take. Huge two minutes coming up.
8:20 - Scott Niedermayer weaves his way through nearly every Shark, drops the puck to Marchant, gets it back and nearly redirects it through. Yeah, he's good.
6:28 - The Ducks nearly get one as Selanne makes a great leading pass on the rush from the right wing to a charging Scott Niedermayer, but Nabokov makes a big stop.
2:45 - Impromptu chant of "Let's go, Ducks!"
0:00 - I'm not sure I'm ready for this.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The second is nearly as good as the first (maybe better), as San Jose gets an early one from Boyle and Pronger counters it midway through. The Ducks turn the ice more in their direction, outshooting the Sharks 13-8 in this period, as SJ got just two shots in the last 14 minutes. Oooh boy, the third is going to be good.
15:19 - Shots on goal are creeping closer. It's 28-19 San Jose.
15:10 - Drew Miller just misses on a shot from the slot. The Miller-Marchant-Niedermayer line is absolutely killing it tonight.
14:45 - Beauchemin lays into Setoguchi at center ice. Yeah, Beauch is back.
During the timeout, Lindsay Soto leans over from behind the Ducks bench to interview Robbie Niedermayer, who is on the ice. She must have gotten word from the truck that her lean-over is showing way too much cleavage, because she suddenly covers up with her sweater. A nice mid-game treat for Robbie.
11:50 - ANAHEIM GOAL - CHRIS PRONGER - Perry chases the puck into the corner and forces it to be ejected by a San Jose player toward the middle of the ice. Pronger pinches in and pounces on it, slapping it inside the post. It's a 3-3 game as five of the six goals in this game have been scored by defensemen.
11:40 - Wisniewski gets drilled twice, first into the wall by Clowe, then when he gets up from Pavelski. He's up and running with no problem.
7:27 - SJ Penalty - Mike Grier, 2 min. roughing. Things get heated after the whistle following a Nabokov glove save, as the combatants include Bobby Ryan
and Corey Perry
, who loses his helmet. Only Grier gets a penalty, which is a rarity considering the Ducks were involved. Just as he's about to get up, Ryan takes the butt of someone's stick in the face and he doesn't like it. He and Joe Thornton jaw at each other pretty good.
6:22 - During a stoppage in play, Hiller heads to the Anaheim bench where he appears to get a cut on his face treated. He seems fine.
6:09 - The Ducks hold it in the San Jose zone for a good while until a Scott Niedermayer wrister is gloved by Naby in traffic. Still, a better sign for Anaheim.
5:08 - Shots are 26-10 San Jose. Yikes.
3:59 - Now San Jose dodges one as Marchant cruises around the net and tries a wraparound that rebounds out to Miller and he can't get the puck up.
2:24 - Here's one you don't see everyday. No one can seem to find the puck as Nokelainen and Blake battle for it and the whistle blows. If I'm not mistaken, I think it got caught inside Blake's jersey.
1:05 - SAN JOSE GOAL - DAN BOYLE - Michalek takes a pass from Joe Pavelski at the top of the crease, spins and forces it on net. It hits Hiller and kicks to Boyle, who chips it under the crossbar just before jumping over Hiller. It's 3-2 San Jose, as they continue to provide a ton of traffic in front of the Anaheim net.
0:30 - Miller and Perry collided and Miller is a little woozy. He's kind of hanging out in the tunnel between the bench and locker room.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, and if it's even half as good as the first, we're in for a treat.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Probably one of the best periods of hockey you'll ever see. Four combined goals, 28 combined shots (20 by SJ), tons of hitting, a fight and a 2-2 tie. Can't wait to see what comes next.
19:50 - 20th shot of the game for San Jose.
18:58 - First fight of the series as George Parros
and Douglas Murray drop the gloves. They go at each other hard and both get in a few shots, Parros' better than Murray's. Eventually, they tire from all the spinning and the officials break it up as they lean against the glass. Parros gets high fives from the fans above as he walks down the tunnel into the Anaheim room.
18:22 - Perry is a step offside as Ryan gives him a great cross-ice feed. Perry either didn't hear the whistle or pretended not to, and still took the shot on Nabokov. To the Sharks' credit, they didn't pummel him for it.
18:00 - San Jose is on pace for about 60 shots.
16:30 - Vicious hit after vicious hit for both teams. No penalties yet.
14:50 - ANAHEIM GOAL - JAMES WISNIEWSKI - Wisniewski glides down the right wing with the puck and just as he gets to the top of the circle, he unleashes an absolute missile that sails by a Rob Niedermayer screen and eludes Nabokov inside the far post. First career playoff goal for Wisniewski and it's a big one. We're tied 2-2.
13:07 - SAN JOSE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - DAN BOYLE - You could pretty much see this one coming. Thornton holds the puck near the extended goal line and makes a great feed across the crease to Boyle playing down low, and Boyle sends it past Hiller's outstretched leg pad. First power play goal in 14 opportunities for San Jose in this series and it's 2-1 Sharks.
11:33 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. hooking. Momentum-killer for the Ducks.
11:12 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BOBBY RYAN - The Ducks capitalize on the power play as Ryan pokes away the puck as it's bouncing near the goalpost and taps it on net. It gets lodged behind Nabokov's skate and he kicks it over the stripe. It's 1-1 as Ryan gets his second of the playoffs.
9:55 - SJ Penalty - Joe Pavelski, 2 min. tripping. Miller is knocked off his skates by Pavelski and flips to the ice. He and Pavelski have a few words after the whistle.
9:27 - Hiller makes his 12th stop as we go to the first timeout. Ducks being outshot, 13-5 already.
7:50 - Pronger escapes the bin as the Ducks dodge a bullet.
7:19 - Hiller gets yet another break in this series, as a Boyle point shot hits Hiller, then the post and he reaches behind himself to freeze it in the crease. As close as they come.
5:50 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. holding. Pronger not pleased at all. Ducks need to stop some bleeding now.
5:34 - SAN JOSE GOAL - ROB BLAKE - Blake fires a slap shot from the point that's kicked away by Hiller, but it hits Miller's ankle and heads into the Anaheim net. Horrible break for the Ducks and possibly the one thing San Jose was looking for to get back into this series. It's 1-0 Sharks.
5:25 - ANA Penalty - Rob Niedermayer, and SJ Penalty - Mike Grier, 2 min. each roughing. Plenty of scrapping in front of the Anaheim net after a routine save by Hiller and Niedermayer and Grier take it a little too far. This one could get ugly later. Eh, who am I kidding? It definitely will.
4:35 - Nothing comes out of what should have been a huge power play opportunity for Anaheim.
4:00 - Ducks nearly get one as they take a couple of swipes at it in front of the net, but Nabokov hangs tight.
2:15 - Hiller another smooth save on a SJ slap shot. Seconds earlier, Scott Niedermayer avoided an Anaheim icing call by racing down and beating a Sharks player to the puck. The little things. That's what he does.
0:55 - Hiller makes another huge stop, as Thornton has a point blank shot after a feed on the rush.
0:35 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. interference. Just seconds after Hiller makes a big stop on a shorthanded rush, Getzlaf gets caught interfering in the corner. A small fracas breaks out after the whistle and Pronger is still chirping.
0:17 - SJ Penalty - Patrick Marleau, 4 min. (double minor) high sticking. Marleau gets Getzlaf in front of the Anaheim net. Crowd loves this early penalty. At first it's put up as just a 2-minute penalty, but when it's determined Getzlaf is bleeding, it gets doubled.
0:00 - And we're underway in Game 3. You can feel the life in this building already.
7:39 p.m. - Another beautiful rendition of the anthem by Christina Reyes, who sports her 20th different look of the season. This time it's more pink die in her hair than usual and braids.
7:36 p.m. - Majorly loud ovation from the crowd as the Ducks hit the ice, as the fans spin their orange towels over their heads. When the starters are introduced, Jonas Hiller gets the loudest response.
7:29 p.m. - Phenomenal opening video showing the Ducks' Stanley Cup Playoff history, from 1997 all the way through the Cup run of '07. At the end, a black screen goes up with words written in white: 2009 ... OUR HISTORY IS STILL BEING WRITTEN. Big-time goosebumps. Later on, a montage of Game 1 and 2 highlights to the tune of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters." Nicely done.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jonas Hiller
; SJ Evgeni Nabokov
Starting Skaters - ANA Scott Niedermayer, James Wisniewski
, Bobby Ryan
, Corey Perry
, Ryan Getzlaf
; SJ Rob Blake, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Travis Moen
Scratches - ANA Jean-Phillippe Levasseur, Bret Hedican, Ryan Carter
, Brad Larsen, Troy Bodie
, Brendan Mikkelson
; SJ Alexei Semenov, Tomas Plihal, Kent Huskins, Jody Shelley, Jamie McGinn