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Inside the Cage: #DuckHunted

by Ross McKeon @rossmckeon /

And on the eighth day, the Sharks rested.

In the span of exactly one week San Jose won four pressure-packed games against a big, strong, veteran, postseason-tested rival to advance beyond the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 13th time. It marked only the second time in 37 all-time playoff series' that the hosts swept an opponent.

"Any time you sweep a team it's a lot closer than you realize," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "There were some key moments guys made some big plays. Definitely it gives us confidence we can win."

As important as closing out the Anaheim Ducks with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday at SAP Center is the fact the Sharks matched what their next opponent accomplished when Vegas dispatched the Los Angeles Kings in a minimum amount of games as well. Earning the same rest as the Golden Knights puts San Jose on similar footing in preparation to face the surprising expansion team in Round 2 next week.

"You never expect sweep, you always want sweep," Sharks alternate captain Logan Couture said. "You always want to win every game you play. They're a very good team over there. They didn't have their best in a few games. We took advantage of that and it's good to get some rest now."

With Vegas looming on the horizon, here's what went right to allow the Sharks to beat an Anaheim team they met for only the second time in postseason.

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Gameday Blog: Game 4 vs. Anaheim

Your source for news for San Jose Sharks playoff gameday

by Ann Frazier & Casey Krygier /

Welcome to the Gameday Blog, which will be updated throughout the day with news, lineup information, videos, and tweets.

Tonight is Game 4 of Sharks versus the Anaheim Ducks, as the two teams play their second game in the friendly yet loud confines of SAP Center.

The Sharks hold a commanding 3-0 series lead and have the chance to advance to the second round with a win tonight. The series has, up to this point, been as lopsided as it seems; the Sharks are currently tied for the most goals for in the playoffs and the fewest goals against. 

This has been helped by the Sharks Game 3 performance that saw the home team win with a franchise-record eight goals. Eight different players scored, and every single Sharks forward recorded at least one point (oddly enough, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the only defenseman to earn a point). But that isn't too surprising in this series; the Sharks have had their offensive depth on display for all three games.

One thing that aided the Sharks in Game 3 was their power play, which is now chugging along at 35.3% in the series. The Ducks have taken the most penalties out of any team in the playoffs: 21, with 20 of them being two-minute minors (the other was a misconduct given to Ryan Getzlaf in Game 3). The Ducks will look to try to turn that tendency around in a very important Game 4 tonight. 

Martin Jones has continued to be spectacular in net. He trails only Marc-Andre Fleury in the two major goaltending stats with a .970 SV% and 1.00 GAA. While the Sharks seem to have the offensive part of things covered, they'll still look to Jones to continue to be Jones and shut things down at the other end.

Read the latest on the San Jose Sharks from the Mercury News.

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Inside the Cage: All is Fehr

by Ross McKeon @rossmckeon /

When asked after scoring a late regular-season goal against Detroit - his first as a Shark - Eric Fehr said he couldn't recall his last NHL goal, which came at Montreal in January of last season while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After scoring a highlight-reel doozy during San Jose's 8-1 rout of Anaheim in Game 3 on Monday, Fehr had better recollection of his previous playoff goal.

"That one I do," Fehr said with a smile. "And I don't talk about it around here."

And for good reason.

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Gameday Blog: Game 3 vs. Anaheim

Your source for news for San Jose Sharks playoff gameday

by Ann Frazier & Casey Krygier /

Welcome to the Gameday Blog, the one-stop shop for San Jose Sharks fans on every gameday. This blog will be updated throughout the day with news, lineup information, videos, and tweets, so be sure to check back as the day goes on.

Tonight the series moves to San Jose as the Sharks and Anaheim Ducks battle in Game 3 in this first round best-of-seven playoff matchup.

The Sharks return home to the friendly and raucous confines of SAP Center with a 2-0 series lead, having won Game 1 by a score of 3-0 and Game 2 by a score of 3-2 in Anaheim. While the first game saw the Sharks firmly in control for the full 60 minutes, the second game (as expected) was a lot closer.

Game 2 started off with the Ducks scoring in the first minute of the game, before the Sharks rallied and scored two later in the first to gain the lead. With another goal in the second period, the Sharks never relinquished the lead and ended up winning 3-2 despite a strong late push by the Ducks. With goals by Marcus Sorensen, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl, the Sharks are seeing depth of scoring even in just the first two games.

One thing to keep an eye on tonight is the continued importance of physical play and special teams. The Sharks and Ducks are two teams that do not like each other very much, and it's showing with the number of penalties the two teams have already wracked up. The Sharks will look to continue to try to take advantage of the special teams situations this animosity has created.

It'll be a key tonight for the Sharks to come out strong, as the Ducks will want to avoid going down into a 3-0 hole. Even with the backing of the crowd, it's sure to be a tough test for the home team tonight.

Read the latest on the San Jose Sharks from the Mercury News.

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Inside The Cage: In The Driver's Seat

by Ross McKeon @rossmckeon /

Just what does it mean that the Sharks are the only team this playoff season to open a series with two wins on the road?

It's certainly meant something positive in the past for San Jose. The three times the Sharks have returned home with a 2-0 lead they've advanced in every instance. And, like this year's match-up against the rival Anaheim Ducks, all three have occurred in the opening round.

The Sharks needed five games to oust Los Angeles in 2016, swept Vancouver in 2013 and survived Calgary in double-overtime of Game 7 way back in 1995.

"We did our job so far. We don't want to look too far ahead," Sharks center Eric Fehr said. "We can't expect it to be easy when we get home. As long as we have the right mindset coming home, that we have to work the same way and play the same game that will be good for us."

"Overconfidence is not part of our DNA," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer added.

The flip side, of course, is the fact Anaheim lost the first two games of a second-round series against Edmonton last spring before rallying back to win four of five to dispatch the young Oilers in seven games.

"They've been in this position before and they have been able to claw their way back into a series," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We know how important the next game is."

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