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Special Teams Decide Game One

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
Earlier in the day, Joe Thornton predicted that special teams would determine who won this series.

Tonight, it determined who won the game.

Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer netted the game winning goal on the power play at 5:18 of the third period after Jonathan Cheechoo was sent to the box for hooking Teemu Selanne. And Ducks Center Ryan Getzlaf capitalized on a giveaway in the neutral zone when he jumped out of the box after serving an elbowing penalty at 15:26. Getzlaf’s goal sealed Anaheim’s 2-0 victory.

Although San Jose had the third ranked power play in the NHL during the regular season (24.4%), the Sharks just couldn’t put the puck past Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. In only his first NHL playoff game, Hiller shut down the Sharks during their six power play opportunities. He finished the game with 35 saves.

The solution for Game Two? Get more pucks and players to the net.

“Offensively we’ve got to be better,” explained Head Coach Todd McLellan as he spoke to the media following the game. “We’ve got to get to the net more. We didn’t create many second opportunities.”

Getting the puck over the blue line was also difficult for the Sharks. Anaheim broke up multiple plays and clogged the neutral zone before San Jose could get the puck into the offensive zone and settle on the attack.

“I think it’s just execution – being in the right place,” explained Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle who led the team in power play ice time. “They’re not doing anything we haven’t seen before. We, on the other hand, didn’t execute like we have been all year.”

“The storyline was probably that their power play was better than ours,” added Thornton. “That’s what it comes down to.”

The first period was nearly penalty free until Boyle was called for tripping Drew Miller at 18:30. During the play, Ducks center Todd Marchment checked Boyle and as he was falling, the defenseman slammed into Miller. Once he got to the penalty box, all Boyle could do was shrug his shoulders at the questionable call.

Anaheim failed to register a shot on their power play.

Anaheim was called for the next three penalties – R. Niedermayer was called for high-sticking Douglas Murray at 1:29 and holding Dan Boyle at 7:22 while Sheldon Brookbank was called for interference against former Duck Travis Moen at 11:46.

But San Jose couldn’t convert.

The second period closed with the Sharks and Ducks trading unsuccessful power play opportunities -- Ryane Clowe was called for elbowing Chris Pronger at 16:52 and then Niedermayer was caught hooking Clowe at 19:13. Then the Ducks struck in teh third period when Cheechoo’s tripping penalty led to Anaheim’s first goal of the night.

“Jonathan’s intent wasn’t to put his teammates down,” said McLellan. “The result was that we ended up in that situation. Their power play, coming in, we knew how strong it was. Eventually, teams are going to score in that situation.”

The Sharks were handed two more power play opportunities alongside one for Anaheim, both neither team scored.

“We have to open it up a little more; it’s pretty obvious you have to score goals to win the playoffs. Offensively we have to be better.”

“We didn’t create too many second opportunities; they did a great job around their net and us doing a poor job. Their goaltender swallowed a lot of pucks. We obviously have to better in that area.”

“I thought it was a well played game by both teams. Both teams fore checked pretty hard and in that aspect I think we were fine. “

“I don’t know if you can say it was a perfect hockey game on our part by any means of the imagination. We took far too many penalties. We wore down all of the penalty killers and most of our players.”

“Jonas (Hiller) is more than just raw rookie. He played in some World Championships and the Swiss League, and won championships. Those are not easy situations to play in. There is a lot of pressure that goes with that. He is a very calm guy; he doesn’t get too high or too low.”

(On the play of Ryan Getzlaf) “We would like to see him shoot the puck like he did on a regular basis. When you see him shoot the puck like that, you wonder why he always wants to pass it. We are always after him to shoot the puck. He has to play extremely well for us to have any chance in this series.”

The Sharks will play hosts to the Anaheim Ducks in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday, April 19 at 7:00 pm at HP Pavilion. The game will be broadcast on CSN in HD, 98.5 KFOX FM and

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