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Sharks keyed by four-line balance, discipline in sweep of Ducks

Play of trade acquisitions Kane and Fehr, strong defensive effort helped San Jose advance to second round

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks didn't need home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Sharks won the first two games of the series on the road at Honda Center, then finished a four-game sweep with a 2-1 win in Game 4 at SAP Center on Wednesday. It's the second time San Jose has swept a Stanley Cup Playoff series, following a four-game win against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals.


[RELATED: Sharks win Game 4, sweep Ducks | Complete Ducks vs. Sharks series coverage]


San Jose will play the Pacific Division-champion Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Second Round.

Here are 5 reasons the Sharks advanced to the second round:


1. All four lines were rolling

Nine players for the Sharks scored at least one goal and 13 had at least one point against the Ducks. The fourth line of Eric Fehr, Marcus Sorensen and Melker Karlsson combined for eight points (four goals, four assists). The top line of center Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi had 12 points (five goals, seven assists).

"The strength of our team is our depth and the sum of our parts and the fact we have four lines that can all jump over the boards and play the same way and create and chip in on offense on any given night," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought that was real important."

Video: ANA@SJS, Gm3: Fehr makes nifty move to extend lead


2. Shutdown defense

The Sharks allowed four goals in the series. Much of that was because of the strong play of goaltender Martin Jones, who stopped 128 of 132 shots (.970 save percentage). But plenty of credit goes to the shutdown defense pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, as well as the rest of the players who have bought into DeBoer's defense-first approach.

The Sharks allowed an average of 2.76 goals per game during the regular season, ninth-fewest in the NHL, and they were stingier in the first round of the playoffs.

"Good goaltending, good penalty kill, good breakouts, guys blocking shots leads to good defense," Vlasic said


3. Trade deadline additions

Fehr was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 20. Six days later, the Sharks got Kane in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. Those moves paid off during the first round.

Kane made his playoff debut in his ninth NHL season and confirmed his belief that he's built for the postseason, tying Sorensen and forward Tomas Hertl for the Sharks lead with three goals in the series. Kane also had no problem being one of the Ducks' top targets for hits.

"Targeted, keyed on, whatever you want to call it," he said. "Myself and some other guys are. That's playoff hockey. That's what you have to do in the playoffs. You can either shy away from it or you can dig in a bit deeper. For me, I take the latter and dig in a little deeper and embrace that challenge."

Video: Sharks sweep and now look forward to facing Vegas


4. Superior discipline

The Ducks delivered plenty of hits, before and after the whistle, but the Sharks rarely retaliated. That discipline helped San Jose stay out of the penalty box and win the special-teams battle. The Sharks were 6-for-20 (30.0 percent) on the power play; the Ducks were 2-for-12 (16.7 percent).

"You want to stay disciplined," Sharks forward Timo Meier said. "You want to be physical. But at the same time you don't want to take stupid penalties. Wear their defensemen down, be hard on the forecheck and make smart, physical plays."


5. Second period dominance

San Jose outscored Anaheim 8-1 in the second period, continuing a trend established during the regular season when the Sharks outscored their opponents 89-71.

"We know that if we come out and can win the second and try and get a lead we're pretty good in the third," Sharks forward Chris Tierney said. "A lot of it is we just try to ramp it up for the second. … We take a lot of pride in making sure we have good line changes, making sure we're keeping our shifts short and are rolling guys out there. Second period's usually a big period for us. We want to build off the first and set ourselves up for the third. We know that if we come out and can win the second and try and get a lead we're pretty good in the third."

The Sharks were 30-1-2 when leading after two periods in the regular season and 4-0 in the first round against the Ducks.

Video: NHL Tonight previews the Sharks-Golden Knights series



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