SAN JOSE, Calif. — With a little bit of timely scoring and a whole lot
of stellar goaltending, the Anaheim Ducks are halfway to an improbable
playoff upset of the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.
Andrew Ebbett broke a tie with his first career playoff goal from an
awkward angle with 10:16 left, and the Ducks stopped the Sharks with
another defensive gem in a 3-2 victory Sunday night, taking a 2-0 lead
in their first-round playoff series.
Jonas Hiller made 42 saves in his second outstanding victory, while
Bobby Ryan and Drew Miller also scored their first playoff goals as the
eighth-seeded Ducks took two games in the Shark Tank from San Jose,
which lost just five home games in regulation during the entire regular
Ryane Clowe’s goal early in the second period ended more than 174
minutes of scoreless playoff hockey for the Sharks dating to last
season, but San Jose couldn’t rally despite another monstrous edge in
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Anaheim.
An eighth seed has beaten a top seed seven times in the NHL playoffs
since 1994, and playoff-tested Anaheim is ripe to add its name to the
list. San Jose must win four of the next five games, including two in
Anaheim, to avoid what would be a disastrous end to a 117-point season
capped by the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy.
Jonathan Cheechoo also scored, and Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for the
Sharks, who outshot Anaheim 44-26 after a 35-17 edge in the Ducks’ 2-0
Game 1 victory. But San Jose dropped to 0-for-12 on the power play in
the series after going scoreless in six chances in Game 2.
The Sharks’ frustration only was heightened in the third period when
the Ducks scored on Ebbett’s fortunate deflection and Miller’s rebound
shot through traffic in a 3 1/2-minute span, while San Jose managed
only Cheechoo’s goal with 6:06 left.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan broke up his top-line pairing of Joe
Thornton and captain Patrick Marleau for Game 2, moving around his top
two scorers but rarely icing them together. It didn’t generate much new
offence, but Clowe came through after a turnover by Ebbett, slipping
the puck past three defenders to snap the Sharks’ playoff scoreless
streak at 174 minutes, two seconds, dating to their four-overtime
elimination loss to Dallas last spring.
The score only heightened San Jose’s dominance in puck possession and
scoring chances, forcing Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle to use his timeout
a few minutes later. The Ducks also didn’t heed Carlyle’s between-games
call to cut down on penalties, with Chris Pronger committing two
cross-checking fouls in the second period alone.
San Jose had a 17-3 shot advantage in the second period, but the Ducks’
Swiss goalie remained unflappable in his first playoff series.