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WCQF Game 3: Sharks 4, Ducks 3

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM

Associated Press

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WCQF Game 3: Sharks 4, Ducks 3
San Jose Sharks 4, Anaheim Ducks 3
By Lonnie White
Special to

-- It was no secret that the San Jose Sharks—which finished the regular season with the NHL’s best overall record—had plenty to prove heading into Tuesday night’s Game 3 of their playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.

Not only did the Sharks find themselves trailing 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, but several of their key players (particularly forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton along with defensemen Dan Boyle and Rob Blake) were not-so-quietly criticized for their lack of offensive production in the series.

Well, the Sharks and their leaders stepped up to the challenge in dramatic style with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Ducks before a stunned crowd of 16,277 at Honda Center.

Marleau scored the game-winning power play goal in the third period, while
Thornton picked up a key power-play assist in the first period. Boyle and Blake combined for three goals and two assists for the Sharks, who now trail 2-1 going into Thursday’s Game 4.

“We got off to a good start today and that was huge,” said Boyle, who scored two goals in Game 3. “But our job is half done…The guys are a little happy but we understand that there’s a lot of work left to be done here.”

A major key for the Sharks was the play of their power-play unit. After being held without a goal in their first 12 man-advantage situations in Games 1 and 2, San Jose scored two power play goals in three opportunities against the Ducks in Game 3.

The Sharks also received a strong game from goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who finished with 27 saves and was at his best in the third period when he kept the Ducks scoreless.

“Two-one is a lot better than being down three-zero,” San Jose Coach Todd McLellan said. “That alone is a lot better but we’re still a game behind and we have to play Game 4 in their building.”

The third meeting of the series got off to a chippy start with both teams taking ill-advised penalties within the opening minute of play.

Marleau got things rolling when he picked up a double-minor for high-sticking the Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf 17 seconds into the game. But moments later, the Ducks helped the Sharks’ cause when Getzlaf was sent to the penalty box for interference at the 35-second mark.

Sharks center Joe Thornton celebrates after Captain Patrick Marleau's goal past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller on Tuesday night. The Sharks won 4-3. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
That opened things up for some wide-open play and each team enjoyed great scoring chances only to be stopped by solid goaltending. Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller made his mark early with consecutive saves on Devin Setoguchi and Thornton. Nabokov displayed his skills with impressive stops on the Ducks forwards Todd Marchant and Corey Perry.

After a short stint of five-on-five play, the ice opened up again when Mike Grier and Rob Niedermayer were called for roughing at 5:25. This time San Jose took full advantage when Blake blasted a shot from the right point to put the Sharks ahead, 1-0, for their first lead of the series.

Blake was able to beat Hiller thanks to traffic created around the net by Marleau and Setoguchi, who also attracted a couple of Ducks into the lane of Blake’s shot.

Moments later, the Sharks nearly took advantage of their first power play opportunity of the game when Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger was in the penalty box for hooking. With the Ducks leaving plenty of room to work, San Jose came within inches of taking a 2-0 lead but a shot by Boyle from inside the blue-line hit the left post and Hiller was able to recover in time to trap the rebound before it bounced into the net at 7:19.

It did not take long before the Ducks made the Sharks pay for their near miss when they scored their own power-play goal at 9:55. With San Jose’s Joe Pavelski sitting in the box for tripping, the Bobby Ryan was credited for a goal when a loose puck in front of the Sharks goal deflected off of Nabokov’s skate into the net to tie the score at 1-1 at 11:12.

Later in the period, the Ducks found themselves short-handed again when Getzlaf was called for hooking at 11:33 and this time, Boyle and the Sharks power-play unit answered the call.

After going 0-for-13 with at least a man-advantage in the series (including a 4-on-3 situation early in Game 3), San Jose finally scored a power-play goal when Thornton made a perfect pass to Boyle, who scored from outside the left post to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 13:07.

But again, the Sharks could not maintain their edge and allowed the Ducks to score a tying goal before the first period ended. This time, San Jose’s special teams were not the blame as Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski beat Nabokov from the top of the right circle to score a full-strength unassisted goal at 14:50.

“I thought we had our best first period of not only in the playoffs but in a long time,” McLellan said. “We scored first and we got our power play scoring…we’ve been waiting for that.”

San Jose got off to a quick start in the second period and Boyle was again in the center of the action.

Sharks center Patrick Marleau right wing Devin Setoguchi celebrate Marleau's game-winning goal on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Mark Avery)
With the Ducks looking to deliver big hits in their own defensive zone early in the period, Boyle was left alone near the top of the crease and he jumped all over a loose puck to put the Sharks back in front, 3-2, at 1:05.

“It was one of those plays where any other game maybe the puck bounces the other way and I don’t get a stick on it,” Boyle said. “I’ve been in that spot before where the puck didn’t go my way but today t was one of those days when the bounce went my way and I’m happy about that.”

Holding onto a one-goal lead, the Sharks continued to apply pressure on the Ducks and had a couple of nice scoring looks against Hiller. But the Anaheim goalie kept his team within striking distance until Pronger jumped up to tie the score at 3-3 when he beat Nabokov with an unassisted full-strength goal at 11:50.

For the rest of the second period, Nabokov and Hiller dominated as both teams failed to score and the game entered the final period tied, setting the stage for Marleau to be a hero in the series.

Though the Ducks played a penalty-free second period, a nifty stickhandling play by Boyle put Corey Perry in a position to hook the Sharks defenseman's stick and was assessed the minor at 9:07.

San Jose then executed a near-perfect power play with crisp puck movement to set up Blake from the inside the right circle. With the Ducks scrambling on defense, Blake delivered a smooth pass into the slot to a wide open Marleau, who redirected the puck into the net at 10:33.

“Our power play was working pretty well tonight,” Marleau said. “We were able to get to loose pucks that we were not able to get to before. Blakey made the play by putting the puck off my stick for a redirect.”

And from there, the Sharks took over as they closed out the game like they did in so many one-goal victories during the regular season.

“I like the way we responded all game,” Boyle said about the Sharks, who have won three of four games against the Ducks at Honda Center this season. “We would score and they came back and scored every time. But we stuck to our guns and got the job done in the end…We had some key saves and key blocks. That was the difference.”

Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell, who broke his leg in training camp and missed the entire regular season, played in his first game of the season and provided a spark with his speed, according to McLellan….The three goals scored by the Sharks defenseman established a single-game playoff record…Defenseman Douglas Murray finished with a team-high five hits for San Jose and engaged in a spirited bout with Anaheim enforcer George Parros…With his goal in the third, Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau became the NHL's leader in playoff game-winning goals since the 2002 postseason with nine... Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson and New York Rangers' Chris Drury are tied for second with eight each.

From the AP Wire

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Rob Blake's pinpoint pass onto the blade of Patrick Marleau's stick for the game-winning goal was driven by bug-eyed desperation, yet executed with calm precision.

That cool under pressure is exactly why San Jose acquired three seen-it-all Stanley Cup-winning defensemen last summer. When the Sharks' playoff hopes probably depended on one big play, Blake delivered it without a flinch.

Marleau scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with 9:27 left, and the Sharks evaded a daunting playoff deficit with a 4-3 victory over Anaheim in Game 3 on Tuesday night, trimming the Ducks' series lead to 2-1.

Dan Boyle had two goals and an assist, and fellow defenseman Blake had a goal and that exceptional assist on Marleau's winner for the top-seeded Sharks, who had scored just twice while losing the first two games of their series against the eighth-seeded Ducks at home, quickly falling into a playoff hole that might have been their grave.

Blake readily acknowledges the concern in the Sharks' dressing room just two games into their playoff run.

"It was desperation out there, and it turned up a level even late in this game," Blake said. "You saw the desperation in the way we worked and executed. Everyone chipped in, and we got the result."

Evgeni Nabokov made 27 saves for the Sharks, who realized any logical hope of winning the series hung on Game 3. San Jose took three one-goal leads in the first two periods, but Anaheim tied it each time.

After Corey Perry took a hooking penalty midway through the third period, Marleau came through with his ninth career playoff game-winner. The captain got his 36th career playoff goal while serving as a backboard for Blake.

"Blakey made that play off my stick," Marleau said. "The focus is on winning. It doesn't matter who's doing it for us. We had some good opportunities, and we were able to get some good bounces, finally."

The home team has never led in this all-California series, which continues with Game 4 on Thursday night. Game 5 is back at the Shark Tank on Saturday night.

Bobby Ryan, James Wisniewski and Chris Pronger scored for the Ducks, who kept pace with the Sharks' improved efforts, but never could take the lead in a lively, penalty-filled game. Hiller stopped 31 shots, but didn't have the indomitable form of the Ducks' first two victories.

"We got away just a little bit from the way we needed to play, especially early in the game," captain Scott Niedermayer said. "They came at us pretty good, and we didn't have that same response, I guess. We gradually got it going, but not enough."

Marleau also finally got going for the Sharks after barely making an impression in the first eight periods. Although Marleau has impressive career playoff stats, he's also notorious for occasional postseason lapses - something that drove former coach Ron Wilson to criticize the captain repeatedly during their years of playoff disappointments.

"We're excited for him to get that one," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We have held him accountable for his play over the last couple of games, and for him to come into this building and respond the way he did, is something we're happy about."

The Sharks' effort was a clear departure from their middling efforts in the first two games, when San Jose barely scored despite a 79-43 advantage in shots. The Sharks matched that goal total in the first 13:07 in Anaheim, including their first power play goal of the series on their 14th man-advantage, and took 20 shots in the first period alone.

With the Sharks showing life from the opening faceoff and the Ducks on their usual edge of legality, there were 26 penalty minutes in the first period of Game 3, with six penalties in the first 6 minutes - including a 4-minute high-sticking call on Marleau just 17 seconds in.

"It took a while for us to get our feet underneath us," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "It seemed like we were battling back all night. We didn't generate much from a standpoint of offensive zone time, and we turned the puck over far too many times."

San Jose claimed its first lead of the series about 5 1/2 minutes in with a goal by Blake, the 39-year-old defenseman who spent nearly 14 seasons just up the 5 freeway with the Los Angeles Kings. His shot from the point went through traffic and deflected off the left skate of Anaheim's Drew Miller.

After Ryan evened it when Nabokov kicked a rebound into his own net, Boyle put the Sharks back ahead with their first score of the series on a power play, slipping a short shot just over Hiller's outstretched pad. Wisniewski tied it again with his first career playoff goal, slipping a low shot past Rob Niedermayer's screen.

Boyle scored his second goal early in the second, but Pronger tied it again by slamming home Joe Pavelski's turnover in the slot for his 20th career playoff goal.

San Jose looked for an energy boost from center Torrey Mitchell, who played for the first time all season after breaking his left leg on the second day of training camp. The speedy forward has been skating with the club for a few weeks, but his addition to the lineup was a last-minute surprise.

Notes: Ducks C Todd Marchant and D Francois Beauchemin both missed practice Monday for the birth of children. Marchant's son, Bradley David, was his fourth child, while Beauchemin's new daughter, Emily, is his second. ... Wisniewski, acquired by Anaheim in a deadline deal with Chicago, was the fourth Anaheim player to score his first career postseason goal in the past two games, joining Ryan, Miller and Andrew Ebbett. ... San Jose's Doug Murray and Anaheim's George Parros had the series' first fight in the final moments of the first period, with Murray holding his own against the Ducks' enforcer.

scoring summary
1st Period
Rob Blake (1) ASST: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (1)
1 - 0 SJS
PPG - Bobby Ryan (2) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (2), Ryan Whitney (3)
1 - 1 Tie
PPG - Dan Boyle (1) ASST: Joe Thornton (2), Devin Setoguchi (1)
2 - 1 SJS
James Wisniewski (1) ASST: NONE
2 - 2 Tie
2nd Period
Dan Boyle (2) ASST: Joe Pavelski (1), Ryane Clowe (1)
3 - 2 SJS
Chris Pronger (1) ASST: NONE
3 - 3 Tie
3rd Period
PPG - Patrick Marleau (1) ASST: Rob Blake (1), Dan Boyle (1)
4 - 3 SJS
penalty summary
1st Period
Patrick Marleau  Hi stick - double minor against  Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf  Interference against  Joe Pavelski
Michael Grier  Roughing against  Rob Niedermayer
Rob Niedermayer  Roughing against  Michael Grier
Chris Pronger  Holding against  Joe Thornton
Joe Pavelski  Tripping against  Drew Miller
Ryan Getzlaf  Hooking against  Douglas Murray
George Parros  Fighting (maj) against  Douglas Murray
Douglas Murray  Fighting (maj) against  George Parros
2nd Period
Michael Grier  Roughing against  Corey Perry
3rd Period
Corey Perry  Hooking against  Dan Boyle
goalie stats
Evgeni Nabokov
SA: 30TOI: 60:00
Saves: 27EV: 23 - 25
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 5
SV%: .900SH: 0 - 0
Jonas Hiller
Jonas Hiller
SA: 35TOI: 58:34
Saves: 31EV: 25 - 27
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 7
SV%: .886SH: 1 - 1
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