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Ducks' power play on a roll

by Eric Stephens
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Lost in all the talk about the Anaheim Ducks’ penchant for taking penalties and the San Jose Sharks' rejuvenated power play is the Ducks' own success with the man advantage in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Anaheim has a power-play goal in each of the first three games and its conversion rate of 30 percent (3-for-10) is the best among all 16 teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Ducks were fifth overall during the regular season, and the extra-man unit clicked at an incredible 48.7-percent rate in the last 13 games.

It’s not a coincidence that they went 10-2-1 in those 13 games to secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Ducks, however, have had just 10 opportunities on the power play and have allowed San Jose 15 chances.

Simply put, Anaheim wants more and coach Randy Carlyle pointed to what his team needs to do for Game 4 on Thursday night at the Honda Center.

"We've always talked about the disparity in penalties," Carlyle said. "We think that we have to go to do a better job of just skating. I don’t think that we’ve really skated to our level in this series so far. And that's going to be our focus, to get our feet moving.

"I don't think we are totally happy with our skating game as of yet. It might have something do with the opposition. They’re playing well so you have to give them credit."

The Ducks want to make things uncomfortable for Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who hasn’t played up to his All-Star level during the series.

"I think we've been there but we're not quite there," said Ducks forward Corey Perry, who is without a point through three games. "We're kind of maybe on the outside a little bit too much. Maybe we should be in front of him a little bit more and disturb him a little more.

"You can't cross that line. That's a fine line where you can be close but not too close. That’s where we’ve got to find. We’ve got to find that line."

Nabokov made 30 saves in Game 3 and perhaps played his best hockey in the third period. One of his biggest stops can on a redirect try by Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer.

"Nabby has been part of the core group that we've talked about throughout the playoffs,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Do I think Nabby can be better? I think he can be. I think he will be. We're counting on that heading forward.

"Perhaps the best playing time Nabby has had was in the second half of Game 3. That’s a good sign for us."

All the Ducks want is to be rewarded if they do skate and get a step or two on their defenders.

"It seems like we haven't [drawn] any penalties in like a month," forward Teemu Selanne said. "We get like two, three power plays max in the games. Obviously that just tells us that when you get the power play, you have to take advantage.

"We take a lot of pride in making it work because it’s obviously a big part of the game."

Every aspect of Game 4 is critical. If San Jose wins again on the road, it can regain home-ice advantage and head back to HP Pavilion squared at two games apiece. Anaheim has an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead.

"It's a huge game," Sharks forward Jeremy Roenick said. "We can put a lot of pressure on them if we win tonight."

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