Thursday, April 23, 2009

I love the playoffs.

In the fourth game of the series, the Ducks now lead 3-1 after their decisive 4-0 victory tonight at the Honda Center.

The win is largely attributed to the outstanding efforts of so-called rookie Bobby Ryan and netminder Jonas Hiller. Ryan scored the first two goals of the game and Hiller had 31 saves for his second shutout of the series.

The first period lacked nothing but a score. Three San Jose penalties for tripping, holding and roughing, and two for Anaheim for tripping and roughing offered plenty of opportunity to score, but after a combined 18 shots (10 for the Sharks and 8 for the Ducks) in the first period, nothing had gone in for either team.

Bobby Ryan broke that stalemate, and a pane of glass while he was at it. His first goal came at 6:33 in the second period off a wrist shot that slips by San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Three minutes later, he was slammed into the boards and shattered the piece of the glass separating the two benches. It took the maintenance crew a good 20 minutes to clean up the pieces of glass and replace the pane before the game could resume. 29 seconds after the impromptu break, Ryan scores again, putting the Ducks ahead 2-0.

Midway through the third period, Corey Perry sends in a shot by Ryan Getzlaf for the Duck's third goal of the night. Five minutes later, in the last few seconds of the game, Andrew Ebbett puts the game out of reach as he scores on an empty net for a final score of 4-0.

The game tonight was critical for the Ducks after Tuesday's loss at home. By keeping penalties at a minimum, (the Sharks had only two man-advantage power plays tonight) they were able to play disciplined hockey. It was undoubtedly a physical game, but the Ducks were consistent and diligent in fighting for the puck and breaking up the Shark's opportunities to score. Brent Severyn, the color commentator for the Ducks radio broadcast said "The Ducks chewed out the forecheck of the sharks, and Chris Pronger and the rest of the Duck's defensive core had pinpoint passing out of their own zone. They schooled them."

Decisive and motivating, the Ducks will have some momentum as they return to San Jose for game 5. With a win on the road, they will knock the Sharks out of the playoffs and move on to round 2.

The first round of the playoffs have already ended for some teams in both divisions, as the Redwings eliminated the Columbus BlueJackets with four straight wins. The Bruins wiped out the Montreal Canadians in four games and the St Louis Blues were also eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks.

Its now down to 13 teams fighting for the most renowned trophy in all sports. Lets Go Ducks.

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