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Sharks seeking solutions

by Eric Stephens

"We didn't create too many second opportunities. Their goaltender swallowed a lot of pucks. We obviously have to be better in that area."
-- Sharks coach Todd McLellan

SAN JOSE -- In the immediate aftermath of their 2-0, Game 1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks to open up the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks quickly realized what they need to do to even up the best-of-seven series on Sunday night (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

The plan for Game 2: Put more bodies in front of Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.

"We didn't create too many second opportunities," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Their goaltender swallowed a lot of pucks. We obviously have to be better in that area."

Hiller stopped all 35 shots he faced as he got a shutout in his first NHL playoff game. The 27-year-old Swiss native did win two league championships in his homeland and, as he did during Anaheim's late push to make the playoffs, continued to show the Ducks and everyone else that he can handle the No. 1 job.

"He's played a tremendous amount for us and has played extremely well," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We kind of rode him into the playoffs.

A big key to Hiller's success was the ability of his defensemen to keep the Sharks from setting up around the crease, which enabled the goalie to get a clear view on many shots.

"At the end of the day, if you allow your goaltender to see the puck, he's going to make the save more than likely," Pronger said. "Jonas has been working on his rebound control and where he leaves the puck and things of that nature. We've just kind of picked up on it and kind of run with it.

"He's playing as well as he is right now and we're just kind of riding him and making sure we're limiting the scoring chances as a [defense]."

On the other side, the Sharks understood that their forwards didn't work hard enough to make Hiller uncomfortable and get him off his game.

When asked if his team didn't get enough traffic in front of Hiller, defenseman Dan Boyle said, "Obviously not. We didn't score. You can talk defense all you want, but we need to do a better job offensively, creating more chances."

San Jose generated much of its attack from its blue line. Rob Blake had a team-leading five shots, tying winger Devin Setoguchi for the team lead, while Boyle and Christian Ehrhoff each had four as the Sharks had a clear advantage in putting pucks on net.

It is the forwards that have to pick up the slack in Game 2. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, the Sharks' two brightest stars, had just one shot on goal. So did wingers Ryane Clowe and Milan Michalek. Second-line center Joe Pavelski had none.

Boyle said the Sharks will study Game 1 and see if they can find ways to solve Hiller -- at least on videotape.
"He's a big goalie," he said. "Again, it all depends upon where you're at on the ice. When you shoot off the pads, you're not necessarily shooting to put the puck in the net. You're shooting for rebounds.

"Once again, you've got to be in the right place at the right time if you're going to shoot for rebounds. We've just got to be a little hungrier offensively."
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