Just like the entire series, the Sharks played a great overall game and had some terrific individual plays, but in the end, they could not prevent Chicago from closing out what, if not for a late empty netter, would have been a third one-goal game of the series. The Blackhawks victory secured the four game sweep.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Dan Boyle
. “With the exception of Game 2, we could have won three of the games. It’s that close in the playoffs. We didn’t put the puck in the net when we had to. We had our chances.”
San Jose had bolted to a 2-0 lead in the second period, but Chicago clawed back. The contest was up for grabs in the third and tied at two apiece, but too many trips to the penalty box was the undoing. San Jose did not get one power play in the third while they were sent to the box three times in an eight minute span. That series of events is a large reason why the Sharks had just one shot for most of the third period and at the very end of the third Chicago power play, the Blackhawks found the game winner.
“We had three penalties in the third and it’s hard to win when you are shorthanded,” said Boyle.
The winner came from Dustin Byfuglien who was parked on top of the crease and redirected the clinching tally. He was the Shark killer for Chicago all series, potting three game winners.
“He was a force and those two guys did a good job of setting him up,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “He was all over the place. “He scored all kinds of goals. He jammed it, he scored on deflections, he scored from the high slot. He was finding a way.”
Like the Detroit series where the outsider would not know how close the battle was upon seeing the 4-1 series final, the same could be said of Chicago blanking San Jose.
“It’s a sweep on the board,” said Boyle. “A late goal tonight, the overtime goal in Game 3. It’s that close. We didn’t capitalize on our chances and they did.”
Even with all the positives this season, most notably the playoff toughness, the ultimate goal was still not achieved. That keeps the players from finding any success in reaching the Western Conference Final.
“The emotions are still there,” said Joe Pavelski
. “To come up short, you have to pack your bag up. There is a lot more to accomplish in the future. Every time you get knocked out, it feels the same. You’ve got one goal in the start and you didn’t get there.”
The penalties hurt in the third, but the lack of scoring was the detriment for San Jose in the series. San Jose scored just once in the series opener and couldn’t muster more than two the remainder of the series.
“You need to have depth, scoring depth, to win, to have success,” said McLellan. “It's not always the superstars that have to get it done. There has to be some grunt work done by some of the other people. Great to see Logan score tonight. Guys that have been there for us and went dry, you know, to get to that ultimate level where the Blackhawks are going now, you need those people.”
Even though the series would have required a miraculous comeback, the men in teal kept plugging away.
“The guys felt we were in it right to the end,” said Pavelski.
“You can see how we came out tonight, so you can’t say there is any quit in us,” said Ryane Clowe
. “We battled to stay in it, but when you get behind 3-0 it is tough.”
In the end, there just wasn’t enough to overcome flying Blackhawks team.
“We didn’t play well enough to win that series,” said Blake.
“I felt we could have played better,” said Dany Heatley. “In Game 1 and Game 3 in particular, I thought we played well enough to win those games and we didn’t do it.”
CUP OR BUST
Any short of winning simply can’t put a smile in on anyone in the Sharks lockerroom.
“The bar is very high for us and anything but the Cup is disappointing,” said Nabokov. “We have everything to win, but we came up short. But we battled through things in others series and we were a little different team.”
The Sharks just couldn’t find the big break that Chicago did. Trailing by one late in the second, Dave Bolland’s shot ricocheted off Kent Huskins and past Nabokov to send the game to the third period even.
“I was following him and he threw it high and it hit Huskins’ glove and went in,” said Nabokov.
MAYBE A LITTLE
As what usually happens following a playoff run, the injuries tend to come out. Dany Heatley tried deflecting any insinuation his groin was bothering him.
“I was fine,” said Heatley.
McLellan noted that while fine, Heatley may not have been 100 percent.
“(That) probably is a good answer,” said McLellan. “Dany Heatley had a very bad groin injury in the Colorado series. He really gutted it out. Over time he's gotten better. In my opinion, I don't think he's ever gotten back to where he needed to be skating wise. I think it was evident. You know, he's a pretty noble guy. He's going to tell you he's pretty close to being good, but he never really got back to where he needed to be.”
McLellan definitely wanted to make sure credit was given where credit was due – to the prevailing club.
“You’ve got to give Chicago credit. They're a helluva team,” said McLellan. “They seemed very destined right now. They have a goaltender that's on fire. They're getting scoring not necessarily from their superstars, I mean that with all due respect to the Byfugliens, the Bollands, those type of players. They're doing the things they need to do to win. They certainly deserved the series. I thought we played hard with them. We competed with them. You know, we battled. We were in every minute of every game, but we were the second place team.”
Last year the Sharks were bounced in the first round and McLellan definitely sees the progress from the previous playoffs.
“We've come a long way as an organization,” said McLellan. “We won the Presidents' Trophy last year. We went into a situation against Anaheim where we didn't play very well. We held an evaluation of our team that was very intense and we scrutinized it very closely. A number of players were put on notice. We made a number of changes. What we did was we fought through the season. We've come a long way. Six of our players on tonight's roster had played in this series before. Other than that, nobody else had experienced it. Only two were Sharks at the time. We've gained a lot of experience. Sometimes it's part of the process. Jumbo now has been there.”
McLellan simply liked what his troops brought to the table and believes in the team to a man.
“I definitely believe in this group,” said McLellan. “You know, there's going to be a lot of people sitting behind a computer and a typewriter writing their stories tomorrow. I know exactly how they're going to come out because that's what you guys do. But when you're in between those walls, in those bricks, you know, we believe in that group. We have that experience now. You know, we've gone through that. Maybe we can expand on it.”