They proved to be road warriors all season and it’s only sustained for the Ducks in the postseason with two big wins at San Jose to start the Western Conference Quarterfinals. But with the series shifting to Honda Center beginning Tuesday night, Anaheim knows it will be imperative to also get back to being a rock-solid home team.
|"Hopefully, we can just carry on what we've been doing on the road," Ebbett (left) said. "We know how big Game 3 is. We have a chance to go up 3-0. We want to capitalize on it for sure." |
While the Ducks tied for the second-best record in the West on the road during the regular season (22-15-4) and are now 9-0-2 in their last 11 road games overall (last regulation road defeat was Feb. 26 at Boston), their home mark left a lot to be desired. Their 20-18-3 record was 12th in the conference, numbers that contrast greatly with Anaheim’s performance over the three previous seasons.
From 2005-2008, the Ducks were one of the NHL’s strongest teams in their own building with an 80-25-18 record (compared to a 58-49-16 road mark in that span). With four wins in their final six home contests this season, the team may be showing signs of getting back to that home formula. If they can keep it going in Game 3, they could put the Sharks in a massive hole in the series.
“Hopefully, we can just carry on what we’ve been doing on the road,” said Andrew Ebbett, who scored a key goal in the third period for the Ducks in Game 2. “We know how big Game 3 is. We have a chance to go up 3-0. We want to capitalize on it for sure.”
|"We're going to be prepared for their best game in Game 3 here," said Getzlaf of the Sharks. "We have to be ready to bring ours. We're in a situation where we can take a good handle on this sereis if we can win the next game." |
Ducks veteran Chris Pronger has been on board for Anaheim’s previous two strong seasons at home, but he’s seen a different story this year. “We feel pretty comfortable on the road,” Pronger said. “Now it’s a matter of being homers. While we didn’t have outlandish success at home this year, we can certainly change that real quickly here to start the playoffs and make this a very tough building to play in.”
Putting the league’s best regular season team in a two-game deficit to start the playoffs, the Ducks recognize that the Sharks will be coming to Orange County desperate to win a hockey game and reverse the momentum of the series.
“We’re going to be prepared for their best game in Game 3 here,” Ryan Getzlaf
said. “We have to be ready to bring ours. We’re in a situation where we can take a good handle on this series if we can win the next game. That is the way we have to look at it.”
Anaheim certainly knows desperation hockey, as they have been playing it for more than a month now. That is when the Ducks agree their playoffs really began. With little room for error, the team went 10-2-1 down the stretch to earn the eighth seed in the West and a date that some had perceived as a mismatch with the top-ranked Sharks. It has been anything but through the first two games.
“Playing against the best team in the league is never an easy job,” said Jonas Hiller
, who has been dominant in his first two career playoff games with a 1.00 goals-against average and .975 save percentage. “Nobody was expecting us to do that well. We knew we had nothing to lose. Sometimes that is easier and takes off a little pressure. I think we’ve handled it pretty well. We also know to get to the next round, we need another two wins. San Jose
is still a great team. They had chances in both of the games.”
|"Nobody was expecting us to do that well," Hiller said. "We knew we had nothing to lose. Sometimes that is easier and takes off a little pressure. I think we've handled it pretty well. We also know to get to the next round, we need another two wins." |
Come tomorrow night, the Honda Center crowd will be rocking from a orange towel-waving throng of Ducks faithful, and the team has proven to them they have what it takes to win this series. Anaheim will have to transfer all the positive vibes they built on the road and bring them to their home ice.
“We just have to continue with the same mindset that we’ve had,” said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. “This is playoff hockey. Go out and try to win each shift, do the difficult things, take hits, block shots and don’t take anything for granted. It’s a long way from anything being where it needs to be. We have a lot of work left.”