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Sharks need wins now

by Eric Stephens
SAN JOSE -- If the San Jose Sharks are to fulfill their Stanley Cup dreams, they'll have to do it on the road.


The top-seeded Sharks were stunned at home twice by the Anaheim Ducks, most recently Sunday night when unheralded Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller scored decisive goals in the third period for a 3-2 Ducks victory in Game 2.

Now the Sharks, who've had to answer numerous questions about their recently playoff failures, head to Anaheim for the next two games and must win at least one to keep the series going and escape the first round. Game 3 of the best-of-7 Western Conference Quarterfinal is Tuesday night at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

The Ducks won Games 1 and 2 despite being outshot by a combined 79-43 total.

"We're disappointed, but I don't think the doubt factor has crept in and that's important," said Todd McLellan, San Jose's first-year coach. "It's not like we've been spanked and we've got our tail between our legs."

It's not as if San Jose can't win on the road. The Sharks went 21-13-7 away from HP Pavilion this season, a key reason why they finished with franchise records for wins (53) and points (117) in coasting to the Pacific Division title and winning its first Presidents' Trophy.

The Sharks also feel comfortable in Anaheim, having won two of three games there this season -- both coming in the last three weeks of the regular season. Both victories were by one goal.

In 2007-08, San Jose split four games at Honda Center, with its two losses coming in overtime and via the shootout.

"I think we've had pretty good success on the road the last couple of years," said winger Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored in Game 2. "This is the first year we've really kind of had sustained success at home, I guess. It's just something where we try to go out and establish our game regardless of where we're playing.

"It's just like any other building you go into. We just try to come out and get our game established. That's what we do on the road. Try to take the fans out of it a little bit."

Right now, the Sharks don't have answers for Anaheim's strong play in the Shark Tank. The Ducks have won six of their last nine games in San Jose.

"A lot of it might have to do with the fact that they have a veteran team," Ryane Clowe said. "Those guys don't get rattled too easily. That's key when you go into tough buildings."

A lot of credit for the Ducks' two wins thus far has to go to goalie Jonas Hiller. Hiller has stopped 77 of 79 shots and became the 14th goalie to notch a shutout in his first NHL playoff game.

"We knew we could play well," Hiller said. "But to come into the rink of the best team in the league and win the first two games, we don't expect that, although we have to think it's possible. ... I'm sure this is not what people expected from us. We have the two wins, but the Sharks are still the best team this year."

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