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Ducks oust top-seeded Sharks 4-1 in testy Game 6

NHL.com @NHL

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -The Anaheim Ducks needed a gritty late-season surge just to make the playoffs, while the San Jose Sharks coasted in with the NHL's best record and expectations of a long playoff run.

Guess which team was better prepared for the daily gut-checks of postseason hockey?

The answer was clear from the bloody grin on Ryan Getzlaf's face. About two hours after the Anaheim center lost a fight to Joe Thornton, he provided the knockout goal in the underdog Ducks' first-round clincher, 4-1 over the top-seeded Sharks on Monday night.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing, or what seed we are in the playoffs," said Getzlaf, who had eight points in the six-game series. "We consider ourselves a contender. We felt that way right from the start. This is just the first round, and we'll move from here."

Teemu Selanne and Francois Beauchemin put the Ducks ahead in the second period when they deflected their first playoff goals off the sticks of San Jose defensemen. Jonas Hiller then finished with 36 saves, wrapping up his phenomenal playoff series debut by outplaying Evgeni Nabokov yet again.

With a dynamic offensive effort that negated all the Sharks' physical bluster, Anaheim became the third team to beat the NHL's top regular-season club in the first round since 2000, and just the fifth since 1968. The Ducks are the eighth No. 8 seed to win a playoff series since 1994, largely dominating the Presidents' Trophy winners in the league's first all-California postseason series in 40 years.

"I think if you ask anyone, we're not an eight seed," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "Everyone in here knows that, and I think now everyone in hockey pretty much sees it, too."

The series finale was entertaining from the opening faceoff, when Getzlaf got the worst of a fight with Thornton. The star centers had been jawing in Game 5, and Thornton - who left Anaheim without speaking to reporters - apparently thought he could spark his team with a brawl.

"Joe kind of came in and said, 'Do you want to go tonight?"' Getzlaf said. "I had every intention of asking him, so it was a situation that carried over from last game. We kind of knew what we were doing. ... (In Game 5) I didn't want to give them any spark. Tonight, I felt, was the opportunity to redeem myself."

Corey Perry also scored as Anaheim advanced to face second-seeded Detroit, which swept Columbus out of the first round. The defending Stanley Cup champions are favorites to defend their title - but few gave the Ducks much chance against the Sharks, either.

Nabokov made 28 saves and Milan Michalek scored the game's first goal for the Sharks, who completed the biggest playoff collapse in a franchise history full of them. San Jose led the NHL with franchise records for points (117) and wins (53) during the regular season, but the club has been past the second round of the postseason just once, in 2004.

The Ducks were outshot in every game, but Hiller allowed just 10 goals and posted two shutouts.

"Did we get what we deserved? We could have played better, obviously, in some games," said Sharks rookie coach Todd McLellan, an assistant in Detroit last year. "It took us a while once our character was challenged, and we responded. The lesson has to be learned that we can't give games away."

San Jose has won four Pacific Division titles in the past seven seasons, but has never made it beyond the 2004 Western Conference finals.

"To a man, they were better," Boyle said in the Sharks' quiet dressing room. "Their goalie was better than ours. Their defense was better, and their forwards were better. We had a great regular season and a disappointing playoff, and for that, you have to give them credit."

At Calgary, Alberta, Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist and Adam Burish and Brian Campbell also scored for the Blackhawks, who won their first playoff series in 13 years.

Chicago's previous playoff series win was a four-game sweep of Calgary in 1996.

Dustin Byfuglien added an empty-net goal and had two assists. Rookie Kris Versteeg, a Calder Trophy nominee, also contributed two assists.

Todd Bertuzzi scored the lone goal for the Flames, who managed just two goals in the final two games of the series and were ousted in the first round for a fourth straight season.

Nikolai Khabibulin played a stellar game in net for the Blackhawks with 43 saves. He robbed Calgary's Olli Jokinen on scoring chances in the first and second periods.

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 12 shots in the loss.

Chicago plays Vancouver in the next round.

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