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Ducks grab 2-0 lead in playoff series with Sharks

Ryan, Ebbett and Miller score as Anaheim returns home with commanding lead in best-of-seven first-round series.

April 20, 2009|HELENE ELLIOTT

FROM SAN JOSE — From Teemu Selanne's perspective, something was very wrong in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Sharks, the eighth-seeded team's second straight stunner against the NHL's regular-season leader.

Not that the Ducks allowed San Jose to take 44 shots at an unflappable Jonas Hiller for a two-game total of 79.

And certainly not that the Ducks scored twice in the third period Sunday and got help from a goalpost to preserve their lead, which enabled them to take a 2-0 series edge home to the Honda Center on Tuesday.

No, the grievance in Selanne's world was that the Ducks' goals came from their youngsters -- rookies Bobby Ryan and Andrew Ebbett and third-year forward Drew Miller -- while Selanne and the team's senior members did the dirty work in setting up the last two.

Selanne won the chase for a dump-in on Ebbett's goal, and Todd Marchant won the faceoff that gave the Ducks possession on Miller's goal, which the winger scored after Scott Niedermayer's shot was deflected by his brother, Rob, onto Miller's stick for a back-to-the-net shot that eluded Evgeni Nabokov at 13:17.

"It's usually that the young guys go out there and do the work and I pick up the cherries," Selanne said, laughing.

"It was an important goal and an important win. Our penalty killing was outstanding today. We can't take those penalties. I know we have the reputation as the big, bad Ducks, but that's over."

They might prefer to be known as giant-killers, a label they're rapidly earning.

Ebbett, whose giveaway led to the Sharks' first goal -- by Ryane Clowe past a screened Hiller at 5:38 of the second period -- maintained that the Ducks, though happy to sweep both games here, aren't becoming overconfident.

"That's the best team in the league we're playing right now," he said.

That might not be true any longer, given that the Sharks have been 0 for 6 on the power play in each of the first two games and have outshot the Ducks, 79-41, but have nothing to show for it.

Ebbett wouldn't budge.

"This one's over and we're going to enjoy it for 10 minutes, like Randy said," he said, referring to Coach Randy Carlyle.

Wow, Carlyle gave them a whole 10 minutes to savor another impressive effort by Hiller, another perfect penalty-killing performance and those clutch goals?

Ebbett nodded affirmatively. "Once we hit the showers it's Tuesday night," Ebbett said.

The Sharks were still digesting Sunday's defeat, an especially bitter one because they did many of the things they'd said they'd have to do and yet lost again.

They got Joe Thornton away from Ryan Getzlaf but still got nothing out of their regular-season scoring leader. They got more bodies in front. They got more of an edge with veteran agitator Claude Lemieux in the lineup.

Still. . . .

"We need to get the power play going," Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said. "We've got to find a way to score there, and that would be our biggest concern."

Maybe their second-biggest, after fighting the ghosts of past playoff failures, though McLellan claimed otherwise.

"We're disappointed, but I don't think there's the doubt factor that's crept in," he said.

Ryan scored the only goal of the first period, during a power play.

The rookie was following up a shot by James Wisniewski that Nabokov had stopped, but his first attempt hit the post.

Ryan persisted, lunging to tap home the rebound.

Clowe tied it after Ebbett's misplay, but Ebbett gained redemption at 9:44 of the third period on a play that came out of nowhere.

The Ducks dumped the puck into the zone and Selanne turned on the jets in his 38-year-old legs to chase it in the left corner. He threw it in front of the net, where Erik Christensen took a whack at it before Ebbett got the rebound past Nabokov.

The Ducks extended their lead to 3-1 at 13:17. Marchant won a faceoff in the Sharks' zone and got the puck to Scott Niedermayer, whose deflected shot bounced to Miller, who slid it home with his back to the net.

Jonathan Cheechoo narrowed that to one at 13:54, faking his way past Scott Niedermayer to lift the puck over Hiller's left (stick) hand and give the sellout crowd of 17,496 new hope. As loud as the fans were, the sound of Christian Ehrhoff hitting the post from the blue line with 2:09 left was even louder. But if the Ducks were lucky, they were also good.

"You just try to keep doing the same thing and you try not to be thinking too much," Hiller said of his success.

At least not thinking about their accomplishments past Carlyle's 10-minute limit.


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