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5 Keys: Sharks at Ducks, Game 1

Kane will play first playoff game in nine NHL seasons for San Jose; Gibson to start for Anaheim

by Dan Arritt / Correspondent


10:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVAS2, PRIME, NBCSCA


ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks will play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in their history in the Western Conference First Round, beginning with Game 1 at Honda Center on Thursday.


[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Sharks series coverage]


The Ducks defeated the Sharks in six games in the 2009 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Anaheim came on strong to earn home-ice advantage in the series; the Ducks trailed San Jose by seven points for second place in the Pacific Division with five games remaining, but won all five while the Sharks went 1-4-0. Anaheim finished one point ahead of San Jose.

Here are 5 keys for Game 1:


1. Kane takes spotlight 

Forward Evander Kane will play the first postseason game in his nine NHL seasons, after 574 regular-season games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Sharks, who acquired him in a trade with the Sabres on Feb. 26. 

He had 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 17 games with San Jose since his acquisition from Buffalo on Feb. 26.

"I have no doubt he has another level to his game that all playoff-type players have," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.

Video: Previewing the Sharks vs. Ducks first-round series


2. Gibson regains health

Ducks goaltender John Gibson will start Game 1 after missing the final two games of the regular season with an upper-body injury. He practiced for three days with no setbacks.

In his eight starts before he was injured on April 1, Gibson was 6-1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.

He's 0-1-1 with a 3.59 GAA and .885 save percentage in two games against San Jose this season.


3. Home-ice advantage?

The Ducks have a seven-game winning streak at Honda Center, where they are 14-1-2 since Jan. 23.

Anaheim was 26-10-5 at home this season. But the Ducks went 0-1-1 against San Jose and were outscored 9-4.

The crowd often arrives a few minutes late, which can affect the energy inside the arena at the outset of games. Game 1 is scheduled to start 30 minutes later than usual in Anaheim, providing fans extra time to arrive. 


4. Playoff experience

Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have missed the playoffs twice in 13 seasons with Anaheim. Getzlaf has appeared in 121 postseason games and Perry in 114.

Each will turn 33 next month, but neither has shown any signs of slowing down on the top line. Getzlaf has 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in his past 17 games, and Perry has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 19 games.

Sharks forward Joe Thornton has appeared in 160 postseason games but has been out since Jan. 23 because of a right knee injury that required surgery. Thornton is day-to-day and won't play in Game 1. San Jose defenseman Paul Martin has played in 115 postseason games, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in 114 and center Joe Pavelski in 111.

Video: Beauchemin joins the show before his game tomorrow


5. Offensive defensemen

Brent Burns didn't have a goal in his first 20 games for San Jose after scoring an NHL career-high 29 last season, but the 33-year-old defenseman has been steady ever since. He led the Sharks with 67 points (12 goals, 55 assists) in his fourth straight 82-game season.

Burns was quiet against Anaheim this season; he had two assists in four games.

The Ducks will be without defenseman Cam Fowler, who injured his left shoulder against the Colorado Avalanche on April 1 and will be out another 1-5 weeks. Fowler had 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) in 67 games.

Video: MIN@SJS: Burns scores on long wrister from the point


Sharks projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Joonas Donskoi

Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc

Marcus Sorensen -- Eric Fehr -- Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Joel Ward, Barclay Goodrow, Jannik Hansen, Dylan Gambrell, Antoine Bibeau

Injured: Joe Thornton (knee), Joakim Ryan (upper body)


Ducks projected lineup

Rickard Rakell -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Nick Ritchie -- Adam Henrique -- Ondrej Kase

Antoine Vermette -- Derek Grant -- J.T. Brown

Josh Manson -- Hampus Lindholm

Francois Beauchemin -- Brandon Montour

Marcus Pettersson -- Andy Welinski

John Gibson

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Jason Chimera, Korbinian Holzer, Chris Kelly, Troy Terry

Injured: Patrick Eaves (illness), Kevin Bieksa (hand), Cam Fowler (shoulder)


Status report

Fehr missed the past seven games with a lower-body injury but centered the fourth line with Sorensen and Karlsson during practice this week. … Vermette will play after being a healthy scratch for the past six games.

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