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Sharks seek offense and a home split

by Eric Stephens
SAN JOSE, Calif. — There’s no mystery as to what the San Jose Sharks need to do tonight in order to even up the best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks.

They’ve got to get the red light turned on, which they didn’t do Thursday in a 2-0 Game 1 loss.

"Obviously, you’ve got to score to win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Whether you score first, second, third, whatever it might be. You’ve got to score more than they do.

"I think it would go a long way for our confidence if we can get out of the gate first. But it’s not the end of the world if we don’t."

Scoring first would go a long way toward restoring the confidence for the top-seeded and Presidents’ Trophy-winning Sharks. They’ve scored just 11 goals in their last seven playoff games dating back to Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals last season against Dallas.

"It seems when games become important, that first goal gives you that little extra energy," defenseman Rob Blake said. "But, again, we’re playing a pretty experienced team. So if they’re down a goal or we’re down a goal, I don’t think it matters as much because the guys have been through situations like that before."

Sharks winger Ryane Clowe said they need to get their usually boisterous home crowd into the game.

"It’s important," Clowe said. "They have a lot of great energy and they were kind of waiting to blow the roof off of last game and had to sit through the game there without a goal. We’ll look to come out and have a better start. Not only for that but just for the fact of playing with a lead.

"It’d be nice, especially at home, if we can get out to a good start."

The Ducks want that as well, hoping to put more pressure on the series favorite.

"I believe that scoring first helps," winger Teemu Selanne said. "It’s not going to win you games but it’s going to give you a better chance, a better start. Every little boost you can get is good."

As they attempt to take a 2-0 series lead back to Anaheim, the Ducks anticipate a more determined effort from San Jose and hope to accomplish the same things they did in Game 1 — play strong defense, kill penalties, get timely scoring and hope for another strong performance from goalie Jonas Hiller.

Hiller made 35 saves Thursday for a shutout in his first NHL playoff game.

"We just have to play our game," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We understand that we’re going to see a different Sharks hockey club tonight."

A big topic has been the Sharks’ willingness to engage the Ducks’ blue line in front of Hiller. McLellan said his team is ready to battle.

"That message has already been delivered," he said. "It doesn’t have to be sent again today. We’re going to give them the leeway of coming to the rink tonight fresh and excited about playing."

One thing is certain. Both teams simply want to play Game 2 after two days of practice.

"It’s driving me crazy," Sharks center Jeremy Roenick said. "It’s no fun. Especially when you lose. It gets longer to think about it. But we’ve had two good days of practice. The good news is we get back at it and hopefully even this thing up and [it'll] be a different series."
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