All you heard from the San Jose Sharks before this series started was how this year will be different, and don’t worry about the past. After their game 1 performance against the Ducks they have brought renewed discussion upon themselves. Making his first playoff start Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller stopped all of the Sharks 35 shots for his first playoff shutout. For San Jose it was pretty close to their worst-case scenario, the Ducks, a division rival came out and played with confidence and stole home ice from the Sharks.
To be fair for the most part the Sharks played a very solid game, Coach Todd McLellan described the club’s effort, “I thought we played a pretty good game. We've got to improve in some areas. We've got to get to the goalie's face a little bit more.” The Sharks particularly need to improve on their special teams. San Jose’s powerplay perhaps the most dangerous in the NHL was completely shutdown in six opportunities, smothered by the Ducks physical play. It was a complete turn around from the regular season in which the Ducks were in the bottom third of the NHL in terms of penalty killing all season. After the game Ducks defenseman Scott Nidermayer spoke of the importance of their PK, “We knew it was going to be important. Looking at their power play, they have a lot of dangerous personnel. We had to be at our best, and Hillsy stepped up and made some big saves.” The Sharks penalty kill also faltered, in a tight game the Ducks broke through early in the third period. At 5:18 of the third period Scott Nidermayer scored on wrist shot through traffic. With 2:25 left in the game coming out of the penalty Ryan Getzlaf sniped a beauty to the top corner, sealing a game 1 victory for the Ducks.
The Sharks now have two days off before they go back at it Sunday night, they have to prove to themselves and to their fans last night was just a fluky loss. Tight losses in the playoffs are going to happen, what will be more telling is how McLellan’s crew respond. As Joe Thornton pointed out they lost Game 1 to Calgary last season too. Really the sooner the Sharks score the better off they will be.
Game 2: Sunday 7 PM PT
Sharks vs. Ducks (ANA Leads Series 1-0)
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Written by Nich Hall