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Ducks not afraid of going into Shark Tank

by Eric Stephens

"I think the confidence is key.  That's everything pretty much. When you have confidence as a team, usually good things happen. But you can't be overconfident. We know what we have to do and we have to find a way to do it."
-- Teemu Selanne

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In their run to the 2007 Stanley Cup, the Anaheim Ducks took a 3-1 lead in three of their four series, and closed out all of them in Game 5.

Two years later, the Ducks have that opportunity again, this time in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the San Jose Sharks. The difference is they’ll have to do it in San Jose instead of at home, where they won all of those Game 5 contests.

Anaheim, which finished on a 10-2-1 run to make the playoffs, is coming off a dominating 4-0 victory at home in Game 4. With a win Saturday night, the Ducks can become the first No. 8 seed to upset both a top seed and a Presidents' Trophy-winning team in the first round since Edmonton beat Detroit in 2006.

"You want to keep improving and playing better," Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said. "Again, our goal tonight is to play the best game of the series and go from there. Obviously last game was good but it’s over. It’s a new game and we want to be good."

Not only are the Ducks confident, they're also comfortable playing in HP Pavilion. An 11-6 record at the Shark Tank in the last four seasons, including wins in Games 1 and 2, can make you feel good about coming to San Jose.

But the Ducks insist they're not taking anything for granted.

"I think the confidence is key," Selanne said. "That's everything pretty much. When you have confidence as a team, usually good things happen. But you can't be overconfident. We know what we have to do and we have to find a way to do it.

"This is the situation where we want to be. But we still have a lot of hard work ahead."

Meanwhile, San Jose is hoping to change the momentum and avoid another playoff disappointment after the best regular season in franchise history. The odds are long for a series comeback as only 20 teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 series.

The Sharks, however, have pointed to their ability to put together streaks this season as they won nine in a row on two different occasions.

Coach Todd McLellan, in his first postseason as the head man behind the bench, said he hopes his team received the message of desperation that he delivered Saturday morning.

"I'd like to say there’s a sense of urgency," McLellan said. "I think there's a belief. But again, the mood in the morning isn’t important. The way they harness that, the way they put their skates on, the way they perform tonight is what counts.

"Way too much can often be put into a morning skate and how sharp you are out there and who’s saying what. Seven o’clock is when it counts."

Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger has been on both sides of the coin when it comes to the team winning the Presidents’ Trophy during the regular season losing in the first round. Pronger was on St. Louis when the Blues lost to San Jose in 2000 -- and anchored the Edmonton team that upset Detroit in 2006.

"I think the biggest thing is, and we've said this, it hasn't happened yet," Pronger said. "And that's the trick, to not get too far ahead. We’ve still got to win four games to win the series. And we have an opportunity tonight."
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