It was bound to happen. No one thought the Ducks could win four games in a row against the Sharks (winner of the President’s Trophy for best regular season record). Heck, very few thought the Ducks could win games one and two (even those of us who predicted that the Ducks would win the series didn’t predict that they’d win games one and two on the road). The Ducks were bound to lose a game against the Sharks. But, did it have to be their first home game of the playoffs? Apparently.
The Sharks were the most dominant team this year in the regular season and no one expected them to go down without a fight. They have a history of crashing and burning in the playoffs, which they’re fighting to leave behind. The Ducks have the worst record of all the teams who made it into the playoffs and the Sharks have a history of getting knocked out in the first two rounds. Both teams have a lot to prove this post-season, so most people on both sides of the predictions expected this series to be one of the more interesting of the first round of the playoffs.
San Jose served as many penalty minutes as the Ducks tonight and only outshot them 35-30, but the Ducks still need to work on staying out of the penalty box more than anything else. They knew they couldn’t keep giving one of the best power plays in the NHL (ranked 3rd during the regular season) a ton of chances and expect the Sharks not to score at some point. The Sharks’ two power play goals tonight were definitely a large part of their win. If the Ducks can somehow manage to decrease their penalties, they might be able to decrease the shots against Hiller and make their job easier. The Ducks keep saying they need to stay out of the penalty box and seem to know some of the tricks to do so; they don’t seem to be motivated enough. Perhaps Randy Carlyle will figure out the trick between now and game 4 in Anaheim Thursday.
Tonight’s loss guarantees that the Ducks will be back in San Jose for game 5 Saturday. Clearly, they hope to be ahead in the series 3-1 then. For now, they’ll settle for their 2-1 lead in the series and work on trying to take fewer penalties against the Sharks in game 4.