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Sharks hope changes generate goals

by Eric Stephens
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Change was necessary for the San Jose Sharks, at least according to first-year coach Todd McLellan, after a shutout loss in Game 1 to the Anaheim Ducks to open the first round.

In Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, McLellan made only one lineup change, switching in 43-year-old Claude Lemieux for enforcer Jody Shelley -- but he shifted a number of his key personnel around the lines in order to generate some offense.

To an extent, it worked. The Sharks put 44 shots on Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller and worked harder to get into the tough area around the crease.

Still, it didn't keep from Anaheim skating off with a 3-2 victory to put the Sharks in a two-game hole heading into Game 3 Tuesday night at the Honda Center. McLellan made clear at the morning skate that winning was the thing to focus on.

"We can't get into a situation where we start satisfying ourselves talking about the number the shots, the number of scoring chances and the quality of them," McLellan said. "We can do that all we want. We have to win games. That's basically all that really matters.

"The quality was better than Game 1. I thought the effort was better. I spoke to that after the game in San Jose. But what it comes down to is results -- they're getting them and we're not."

The most notable changes included moving Patrick Marleau to center, his natural position, between Travis Moen and Devin Setoguchi while creating a line of Joe Thornton between Jeremy Roenick and Jonathan Cheechoo, Thornton's former longtime linemate.

Cheechoo did score in the third period of Game 2, while winger Ryane Clowe has been only other player to beat Hiller. Thornton said he believed McLellan wanted to break up him and Marleau in order to spread some offense around.

"Well, we got some goals," said Thornton, when asked if the plan worked. "I thought we had a lot more chances. I think each line played really, really well. I really did."

McLellan said the Sharks 79-43 edge in shots on goal thus far doesn't matter.

"You can talk about shots on goal and chances all you want," he said. "If we don't finish, we don't win. And that's what it comes down to."

Anaheim's Bobby Ryan, who scored the first goal in Game 2, called McLellan’s maneuvering "a little reactionary" but said he didn't take it as a show of respect for the Ducks' top line of himself, center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry.

"I don't think they hit the panic button by any means, but they went a game without scoring a goal and sometimes you just need a different look," Ryan said. "I don’t think we looked too much into it. I think he was just probably trying to find a spark with different guys."

Setoguchi said Hiller isn't in his head or those of his teammates. But he conceded that the Swiss-born netminder has played well in his first NHL playoff series.

"It happens in the playoffs," he said. "Happens all the time. Goalies play good. There’s only one way to break that and that's to keep sticking with it, getting shots, getting guys to the net. Hopefully sooner or later, we can break him down."

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said he still expects a long series and is counting on the top-seeded Sharks, the NHL’s best team during the regular season, to play better in Game 3.

"The thing is, we have to prepare ourselves to play the best game so far this series," Carlyle said. "That's no secret. We have to play to a higher level than we've played the last two games because we know they are."

The Ducks will have both center Todd Marchant and defenseman Francois Beauchemin in the lineup after both missed practice to be their wives, each of whom delivered children Wednesday morning.

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