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Anaheim Ducks smack top-seeded San Jose Sharks again to take 2-0 series lead

NHL.com @NHL

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 season.

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 shots.

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.

Five periods of tight-checking hockey gave way to a frenetic finish in the third period, but the Sharks already were behind again less than four minutes into Game 2 thanks to a remarkable athletic play by Ryan, the Ducks' 22-year-old American forward.

With four seconds left on a power play, Ryan rang a shot off Nabokov's post and then improbably hurdled the prone goalie, flicking home the rebound while in the air for the first playoff goal of his career.

In the third period, Ebbett - a 26-year-old rookie in his first playoff series - deflected the puck off the back of Nabokov's pad from near the goal line on a play set up by the speed of Teemu Selanne, who slipped behind the San Jose defence and fired the puck on net to set the sequence in motion.

Miller then put the Ducks up 3-1 on a rebound goal with 6:43 to play, but Cheechoo reduced the deficit 37 seconds later by barging past two defenders for a score. The Sharks kept pushing, and Christian Ehrhoff hit the post with 2:10 to play - but Anaheim controlled the puck for much of the final minute, preventing the Sharks from threatening.

Notes: Claude Lemieux participated in his first NHL playoff game in six years when the Sharks scratched enforcer Jody Shelley and inserted Lemieux on their fourth line. The 43-year-old four-time Stanley Cup winner had one assist in 18 regular-season games for the Sharks after his comeback from a 5 1/2-year retirement. ... Anaheim made no changes to its lineup after Game 1. ... Eighth-seeded Edmonton beat Detroit in 2006, then went on to knock off fifth-seeded San Jose on the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

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