For the San Jose Sharks, in the end, their two game deficit to start the series was too much to overcome and they fell in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a stellar regular season.
“We battled and fought, but they won the first two home games and had us by the throat,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “The first two games at home were the key.”
In the 4-1 loss to close out the series, San Jose saw multiple Anaheim goals come off deflections or their own players, but it was the Ducks who earned the breaks.
“You have to build that into a series,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We failed to do that early when we didn’t (compete in the opening games).”
McLellan liked what he saw on the evening, but it was too little too late.
“I’m proud of the effort and will to win tonight,” said McLellan. “You have to give Anaheim and their defense credit.”
Anaheim created an all-world pairing on defense with Norris Trophy winners Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer skating on the ice every time Thornton’s line stepped off the bench.
This single game was not the problem though.
“The lesson has to be learned you can’t give games away,” said McLellan about earlier series battles. “It’s my recollection that’s a history here and we have to see if we can change it. We missed that (fighting) spirit in games one and two.”
The Sharks bench boss would not acknowledge any excuses via injury at the post game press conference.
“We have injuries and so do they and so does Detroit and Columbus,” said McLellan. “The fact is we didn’t win and there are no excuses.”
The players were in agreement with their coach.
“They outplayed us in a lot of aspects,” said Rob Blake.
The early exit did not sit well with the veteran Sharks players.
“We didn’t come through again,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “The bottom line is they were better than us and that is unfortunate.”
San Jose put up amazing first period numbers, posting 18 first period shots, but the game was still tied after 20 minutes.
“They executed better than we did and put the puck in the net when they had to,” said Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau. “We had our chances.”