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Ducks close, but no clincher in Game 5

by Eric Stephens
SAN JOSE -- Leaving the dressing room Saturday night following a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Anaheim Ducks felt as if let an opportunity to steal another game at HP Pavilion and finish off the San Jose Sharks slip away.

Two days after a dominating Game 4 shutout win at home, the Ducks ultimately paid for the lack of a similar effort on Patrick Marleau’s winner 6:02 into the first extra session. But they nearly snuck out of San Jose with another win and the series after mounting a stirring third-period comeback.

Anaheim can still complete the upset of top-seeded San Jose in Game 6 Monday night at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

"We wanted to try to win this game tonight," said Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer in the moments after Game 5 late Saturday. "That was all we really thought about. For whatever reason, we just weren’t quite how we needed to be at the start of the game.
"That’s the only game we were looking at, the one tonight."

The Ducks put themselves in position for the clinching Game 5 win when Ryan Carter and Corey Perry scored in a 3:37 span of the third to quiet the sellout crowd of 17,496. Niedermayer assisted on both goals, including a nifty play on Perry’s score when he drew three defenders on a rush before dropping a pass to the high-scoring right wing.

Until those moments, Anaheim was trying its best to hold off a ferocious San Jose offensive assault. The Sharks put 45 shots on goalie Jonas Hiller, but he turned in another stellar effort in goal as he made 42 saves, several of which were point-blank chances on the Sharks’ many entries into the offensive zone.

Perhaps tired of hearing about the young power trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan outplaying them in the series, Marleau, Thornton and Devin Setoguchi reunited as a line and paved the way for San Jose.

Marleau got his second winning goal of the series and assisted on Thornton’s first of the postseason in the first period. Setoguchi got his first when he somehow snuck a wrist shot between Hiller and the left post.

Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger wasn’t surprised at the effort the Sharks put forth.

"Their backs are against the wall," Pronger said. "They've either got to win or they're done. That's a dangerous position to be in. We understand that. You saw the way they came out and the way that they played.

"We’ve got to understand it's going to take how we played in the third period to win on Monday. We’ve got to play with that passion, that determination and that will if we’re going to win."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan was satisfied with his team's performance Saturday, but cautioned that they still have a lot of work to do after digging themselves a huge hole. His team is trying to avoid being the first top seed to be upended by a No. 8 since Edmonton took down Detroit in 2006.

"Everything is fine and dandy right now, but we've still got a noose around our necks and we better be prepared to play even better than we did tonight,” McLellan said.

The Ducks are hoping that they haven’t allowed the NHL’s best regular-season team and Presidents’ Trophy winner a chance to get up off the ice and launch a comeback.

"We’ve got to understand it’s going to take how we played in the third period to win on Monday. We’ve got to play with that passion, that determination and that will if we’re going to win." -- Chris Pronger
"We’ve had nothing but respect for that team all the way through the series," Niedermayer said. "They’re a great hockey team. It’s going to take our best to try and win."

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