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Sharks beat Ducks to stay alive

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

(San Jose, CA)  —  The Sharks pounded out a win over Anaheim to stay alive in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 6-minutes into the overtime, Patrick Marleau literally pounded the puck into the goal from under the goaltender to win the game 3-2.

Joe Thornton had a goal and two assists and Marleau and Devin Setoguchi each had a goal and an assist as the top line lifted the team to victory. Evgeni Nabokov saved 23 shots in net. Jonas Hiller was again a star for the Ducks stopping 44 shots and keeping the game close throughout.

The Sharks had a two-nothing lead in the third but a slow start to the third period led to two Anaheim goals and a comeback to tie the game and eventually force the overtime.

After a poor showing in game 4, the Sharks character was questioned. That included the character of the top line. Thornton and Marleau talked with coach Todd McLellan about getting the top line of Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi back together for tonight’s game. They had often been separated during the past few games. “We really have not played much together this series so we were really happy to be back together since we played together pretty much all year,” Thornton said.

The coach liked the results as well. “We are obviously happy with their (Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi) performance tonight. They were challenged in the locker room by the coaching staff and this is supposed to be their time of year.”

Torey Mitchell continued to impress with his energy and speed he created a number of turnovers and scoring chances for his linemates Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick. “We got to put out a lot of energy out there and I thought we did a good job of that,” Mitchell said. This was Mitchell’s third game of the year after missing the season with a broken leg.

The Sharks scored first on the power play. Patrick Marleau took a shot from the slot that deflected off of Hiller to his left where Thornton was standing for a quick shot past the goalie.

Devin Setoguchi got his second career playoff goal on a great shot. Working from behind the net, Setoguchi drifted out to the left side and as all the defenders played the pass, Setoguchi fired a shot that just squeezed in between Hiller’s pads and the goal post.

And then the Ducks struck! It started on a Mike Grier turnover after he fell at center ice after bumping into the linesman. Andrew Ebbett got the puck and charged the Sharks zone. He slid a nice pass to Ryan Carter who beat Nabokov between his legs for the goal.

Just under 4 minutes later, two defensemen collapsed on Scott Niedermayer as he carried the puck into the zone, he flicked a pass to his right to Corey Perry who beat Setoguchi into the zone. The pass hit Perry right on his stick and he blasted a slap shot that beat Nabokov. The Ducks tied the score at 2 in front of a stunned crowd.

The Sharks struggled at the start of both the second and third periods which is what cost them. “We were frustrated,” Mitchell said. “We have ups and downs, so we just tried to ride the storm. We have to do a better job of that in the future.”

The Ducks had a great chance midway through the period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic slipped and went down at center ice, Mike Brown ended up with a breakaway but he could not control the puck on a deke and Nabokov made the save.

The game winner was a great play by Thornton who skated toward the goal, took a shot, got the rebound, went behind the goal, passed it to Marleau who shot the puck. It appeared that Hiller had stopped it but the puck was loose under the goaltender. Marleau kept hammering at Hiller’s leg until the puck scooted into the goal for the win. The crowd obviously erupted!

“It is just like basketball,” Thornton described the game winner. “you just shoot the ball and follow your rebound. I shot it and it came back to me. I wrapped it around (the net) to Patty who was determined to put it in the back of the net. It was a great play by Patty.”

“Everything is fine and dandy right now,” McLellan said. “But we still have a noose around our necks and we better be prepared to play even better (in game 6) than we did tonight.”

The Sharks trail the best of seven series 3-2 now with game 6 in Anaheim on Monday night. If they can win that one, game 7 would be Wednesday in San Jose.


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