ANAHEIM – That Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal between the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night was as intense of a game as I’ve seen in person in quite some time wasn’t a surprise.
What did surprise me were two things – both goaltenders left a lot of loose change in the slot and the Ducks’ penalty killing, which had been money to this point in the series, was not as effective.
San Jose’s first three goals came from defensemen, including two from Dan Boyle, and Rob Blake, who scored the Sharks’ first goal, hit captain Patrick Marleau with a touch pass on a power-play for the winner midway through the third period of the Sharks’ 4-3 win.
Three times the Sharks took leads in the first two periods, and three times the Ducks caught them. In the end, the chase got the better of Anaheim.
“They seemed to jump out of the gate earlier on us (than in Games 1 and 2),” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said afterward. “It seemed like we were battling back all night.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan was pleased with his team’s start.
“That was our best first period, not only in the playoffs, but in a long time,” he said.
After being outshot by a 2-1 ratio during the first 30 minutes, the Ducks took control during the latter half of the second period and tied the score at 3 when Chris Pronger picked off Joe Pavelski‘s errant clearing pass between the circles and fired the puck inside the right post.
Marleau’s goal and a spirited Sharks effort late in the third sealed the outcome.
“We took a penalty in the middle of the period and it cost us,” Carlyle said. “We didn’t play to the level we did the two previous games.”
Other observations: Wonder why so many seats were left unfilled in all three levels of Honda Center? Econony? Apathy? Angels playing across the street? … The George Parros-Douglas Murray bout was a keeper. Parros was responding to a hard but legal blindside hit Murray had administered to Teemu Selanne a few shifts earlier in the first period. This was a fight out of passion, not for show, and the NHL would be wise to let these interactions go. It energized the building and both teams. … The Sharks held a huge shot advantage in the first period, but were outhit and dominated in the faceoff circle. When the Ducks narrowed the shot gap, the Sharks evened out the hit and faceoff departments. … Members of the media and scouts from other teams were out in droves Tuesday night. Hard for me to believe there are that many outlets covering the series. … A funny sight: several Ducks prospects (the Black Aces) who are in town to practice with the team during the playoffs as well as the club’s scratches sat together in the arena on Tuesday night. Wonder if the fans around them had any idea who the group of young men was.