Ducks sink Sharks in Game 2
Drew Miller's goal at 13:17 of the third period stood up as the winner as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Sharks 3-2 on Sunday night in San Jose, Calif.
The Ducks have now stolen two games on the road to take a 2-0 lead in their Stanley Cup playoff series. The teams head back to Anaheim for Game 3 on Tuesday night (10:30 p.m. ET, CBC).
After Andrew Ebbett scored his first career playoff goal midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie, Miller's goal put the Ducks up 3-1.
But 30 seconds later, Jonathan Cheechoo gave the Sharks life, scoring on a spectacular individual effort to pull San Jose within one goal. Cheechoo faked out Anaheim defenceman Scott Niedermayer and beat goaltender Jonas Hiller up high.
With two minutes left in the third period, Christian Ehrhoff almost tied it with a blast from the blue-line, but it nicked the blocker of Hiller and banged off the post.
Hiller, an NHL rookie, was outstanding in stopping 42 of 44 shots for the win.
"He's played in some important games down the stretch," Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle said. "The world championships, the Swiss league, he knows what winning hockey games is all about."
Both goalies impress
Evgeni Nabokov wasn't nearly as busy in San Jose's net, but he made some timely saves to keep the Sharks within striking distance.
One of his best saves came late in the second period, when Todd Marchant was sprung on a breakaway. Nabokov got a piece of the shot for one of his 23 saves on the night.
San Jose dominated the second period, outshooting the Ducks 17-3 and finally hitting the back of the net for the first time in the series.
Ryan Clowe scored on a wrist shot from the blue-line that slid past a screened Hiller.
It ended a playoff scoreless drought for San Jose that lasted more than 174 minutes going back to last year's second-round playoff loss to Dallas.
Anaheim got off to a great start, with Bobby Ryan opening the scoring 3:45 into the first period. Ryan hurdled a sprawling Nabokov to bang in a loose rebound.
But Anaheim ran into penalty trouble, giving San Jose six power-play opportunities. The Sharks were unable to score with the man advantage, going 0 for 6 in Game 2; the Sharks are 0 for 12 in the series.
The Ducks seemed to gain momentum from each penalty-kill.
Hard work earns praise
"Everybody is playing hard," Hiller said. "Everybody is doing his job, making it hard to get into the zone."
An eighth seed has beaten a top seed seven times in the NHL playoffs since 1994, and playoff-tested Anaheim is ripe to add its name to the list.
"We knew we could play well," Hiller said. "But to come into the rink of the best team in the league and win the first two games, we don't expect that, although we have to think it's possible. ... I'm sure this is not what people expected from us. We have the two wins, but the Sharks are still the best team this year."
San Jose must win four of the next five games, including two in Anaheim, to avoid what would be a disastrous end to a 117-point season capped by the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy as top team.
But nobody is panicking in the Sharks' dressing room.
"I think if you go in there and ask the guys," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said, "they'd probably think we were the better team. I don't think it's like we've been spanked and have our tail between our legs."
"I thought we were a much better at getting to the net, and making Hiller work to make the saves. We just didn't get the puck luck we needed."
With files from The Associated Press