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Heatley believes Sharks are on the right track

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Heatley believes Sharks are on the right track
Dany Heatley and the Sharks aren’t worried too much about their opening loss to the Blackhawks, a game in which Antti Niemi’s brilliance in goal stole the show.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Dany Heatley's postseason has been a mixed bag. He has 2 goals and 9 assists in 11 games, but he's a minus-5. He had plenty of scoring chances in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, but he came up empty and was on the ice for both of the Blackhawks' goals in the 2-1 loss Sunday.

Making matters worse, a miscommunication between Heatley and defenseman Rob Blake resulted in Dustin Byfuglien being left wide-open in the high slot to score the winner late in the third period.

Heatley had 39 goals in the regular season, but he has just 2 goals in his last 18 games. At his press conference Monday, Sharks coach Todd McLellan defended his star player, saying Heatley was playing through an injury early in the postseason.

"He got a little banged up in one of the series and he's worked his way through it now. He's not hurt now, he's getting his legs underneath him," McLellan said. "The stat isn't a real encouraging one, but the fact he had some brilliant looks, a shooter like him, it's eventually going to go in."

Heatley talked with reporters Monday morning at the Sharks Ice practice facility:

Q: Were you happy with your scoring chances, your looks in Game 1?

Heatley: Yeah, I had some pretty good chances. I would have liked to put them in different spots, but (Chicago goalie Antti Niemi) made some saves. I thought at times we made him look pretty good. We just have to make better shots when we get those chances.

Q: When you fire 45 shots on Niemi, is it easier not to get down on yourself?

Heatley: You always want to win Game 1 at home. I thought we played well enough to win, but we didn't. We come back tomorrow with the same type of effort and we'll kick it up a notch.

Q: Would you take 45 shots again in Game 2?

Heatley: 46 would be better. We want to get as many as we can to him. Again, he's like anybody else. Get in his face, get pucks to him, bury those second chances. I thought we had a couple good second chances and he made some sick saves off them. Just keep shooting the puck and it will go in for us.

Q: Can you talk about the miscommunication on Byfuglien's goal?

Heatley: I just looked at it today. It's kind of a broken play. He found a good spot up high and made a good shot.

Q: Your team took zero penalties in Game 1. Do you look at it as a good thing or maybe do you think it's a sign that the team needs to be grittier?

Heatley: No, it's a great thing. I thought we played physical. I thought we played clean and that's why we had no penalties.

Q: Five power-play opportunities in Game 1 and one goal. What would you like to see change in Game 2 besides scoring more?

Heatley: Every team kills different. That first one I thought we had some chances to score, but he made some saves. In particular, just a little bit more support. I think that's the key to our power play with an aggressive kill. We need guys close to the puck.

Q: Was Game 1 a sign of things to come where one mistake can make the difference?

Heatley: One-goal game, that's what the playoffs are all about. When it was 1-1, I thought we had chances to take the lead a couple of times. When they got their chances, they buried it.

Q: You guys were in the same situation in the Colorado series, down 1-0 after losing Game 1 at home. What can you take from that series to help you now?

Heatley: It's just what we talked about before the playoffs. We're going to lose games, we're going to win games. Just try to stay even-keeled.

Q: Do you expect to be matched up against the Kane-Toews-Byfuglien line?

Heatley: We were all over the map on the matchups. Definitely when we're out there against them, we got to be aware of what they do.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL


Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic