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Ducks stun top-seeded Sharks with Hiller's shutout

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -With their dynamic veteran core and a Stanley Cup atop their recent list of achievements, nobody thought the Anaheim Ducks were the average No. 8 playoff seed. They've already proved it by putting an early scare into the San Jose Sharks.

Jonas Hiller made 35 saves in a sparkling playoff debut, and Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist in the third period of the Ducks' 2-0 victory over the top-seeded Sharks on Thursday night.

With little panache and ample patience before captain Scott Niedermayer got the game's first goal with 14:42 left, the Ducks showed why they were feared by every potential Western Conference opponent, even after their unimpressive regular season. The 2007 champions needed a late surge just to get into this Stanley Cup tournament, finishing 26 points behind San Jose - but that big number was quickly erased by Hiller and his teammates.

"Right from the opening drop of the puck, it's a new season," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "They had a lot better season overall than we did, but we've been playing well the last month. We just wanted to sneak into the playoffs and see what we could do."

The first playoff series between California teams in four decades was scoreless until the third period, when Niedermayer slipped a power-play goal past Evgeni Nabokov on a pass from Getzlaf. The Ducks' playmaking center then roared out of the penalty box to score his own goal with 2:25 to play after San Jose failed to score on its sixth power play of the night.

"It's sure easier to start with a win," said Hiller, who took the Ducks' starting job from former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere this season. "Now, San Jose almost has to win the next one, so that's some pressure on them, but they're a great team."

Game 2 is Sunday night.

Nabokov made 15 saves for San Jose, which won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history with 117 points. The Sharks have their own core of veterans with their names on the Cup from other teams, yet they looked like the less-experienced club for most of the night at a largely somber Shark Tank.

"We felt like we (controlled) the majority of the play, but that's just hockey," Joe Thornton said. "We've got to keep people in front of the net, keep getting shots, and it'll work for us. ... We've got a good veteran club here, and last year we lost Game 1 against Calgary. We've got to think about this for 5 minutes, and then we'll move on."

Still, the loss puts the Sharks under postseason scrutiny yet again after three straight second-round exits. Their 0-for-6 power play won't stop another round of questions about their mental toughness, either.

"We didn't create too many second opportunities," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, an assistant on Detroit's Stanley Cup winners last season. "That's their goalie doing a great job around their net, and us doing a poor job. Their goaltender swallowed a lot of pucks. We obviously have to be better in that area."

San Jose showcased its superior skill while outshooting the Ducks by a 2-to-1 margin, but the Sharks rarely threatened to get any of those chances past Hiller. Coach Randy Carlyle stuck with Hiller instead of going back to Giguere, the 2003 playoff MVP, who watched the game from a folding chair behind the glass opposite the Anaheim bench.

"Jonas is more than just a raw rookie," Carlyle said. "He played in some World Championships and the Swiss League, and won championships. ... He's a very calm guy. He doesn't get too high or too low."

At Chicago, Martin Havlat scored 12 seconds into overtime to give Chicago the victory in its first playoff game in seven years.

After tying it late in regulation, Havlat drove a wrist shot past Miikka Kiprusoff from between the circles to match the third-fastest overtime goal in playoff history.

Mike Cammalleri gave Calgary a 2-1 lead about 4 minutes into the final period when he scored on a 2-on-1 break. But Havlat tied it with 5:33 left off a rebound.

David Moss opened the scoring for the Flames in the first period, and Chicago's Cam Barker tied it in the second.

Havlat was 3 seconds off the NHL record of 9 seconds set by Brian Skrudland for Montreal in 3-2 victory over Calgary on May 18, 1986, in the Stanley Cup finals. J.P. Parise of the Islanders scored in 11 seconds of OT against the Rangers in 1975, and Chicago's Pit Martin also scored at 12 seconds in 1972 against Pittsburgh.

Game 2 is Saturday night in Chicago.

At Boston, Phil Kessel had two goals and an assist, and Zdeno Chara scored with 8:45 left to break a third-period tie for the Bruins.

Tim Thomas stopped 26 shots for Boston, the top-seeded team in the East but one which hasn't gotten out of the first round in a decade.

Chris Higgins and Alex Kovalev scored for Montreal.

Montreal and Boston have met an NHL-record 32 times in the playoffs, with the Canadiens winning 24 times, including last year when they had the No. 1 seed but needed seven games to advance.

Game 2 is Saturday night in Boston.

At Detroit, Jonathan Ericsson scored the go-ahead goal for the Red Wings with 6:39 left in the second period on a shot that Manny Malhotra redirected into his own net trying to stop the puck with his glove

Jiri Hudler, Nicklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen also scored for Stanley Cup champion Detroit, and Chris Osgood made 20 saves, allowing only R.J. Umberger's goal.

Game 2 is Saturday night in Detroit.

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