Sharks Drown at the Pond
In game 6 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the San Jose Sharks lost to the Anaheim Ducks with a score of 4-1. With their win, the 8th-seed Ducks eliminated the top-seeded Sharks from the playoffs in the first round.
From the start of the game, fans knew they were getting what they paid for. As soon as the puck dropped, San Jose Shark player Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf dropped their gloves for a pre-game brawl following the intensity of the last game in San Jose and setting a standard for a physical game tonight. Both players were sent to the penalty box in the first two seconds of the game with a five-minute major apiece.
The Ducks seemed to like the penalty box, as they spent most of the first period in it. 17 total minutes were served in the first period, including the five minute fighting major. Calls for roughing, elbowing, tripping, slashing and hooking all earned various Ducks players two-minute minor penalties, giving the Sharks the opportunity they needed for their first, and as it turned out, only goal. Just under a minute into a penalty by James Wisniewski for slashing, Sharks player Milan Michalek got a goal past Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller for the first goal of the game. Just two minutes later, Sharks player Patrick Marleau headed to the sin bin on a hooking call to give the Ducks a two minute powerplay, but Corey Perry only needed 14 seconds of the man advantage to score on Evgeni Nabokov.
The Ducks earned their second and third goals halfway through the second period. Teemu Selanne earned his first goal of the playoffs on a powerplay goal after a hooking call on San Jose player Torrey Mitchell. Barely two minutes later, Francois Beauchemin would get his first goal since coming back from a torn ACL in November. As the Ducks pulled ahead, the intensity of the fights increased. The second period ended much the same way as the first period began, with a melee that earned Ryan Whitney and Ryan Getzlaf penalties for fighting and roughing, and Sharks players Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski penalties for boarding, fighting and roughing.
Soon after the third period began, another fisticuffs broke out, again earning several players a trip to the penalty box. With the Sharks under pressure to tie the score back up, and the Ducks desperate to hold on to their two-goal lead, tension between the two teams causes gloves to drop and fists to fly at every possibility. The Ducks were determined to put the game away with a final goal by Ryan Getzlaf in the last three minutes of the game, with set-up assists by Drew Miller and Rob Niedermeyer.
Both teams had 12 penalties each, adding up to 30 minutes of time spent in the sin bin. It was just a mark of how physical the matchup was.
Jonas Hiller (the Shark killer!) had an outstanding 37 saves to keep the Ducks ahead for the win. Throughout the series, he's been the determining factor in all their wins with unbelievable saves. In the six-game series, Hiller stopped 211 of 221 shots. With a strong defensive line and a top-notch goalie, the Ducks overcame the top-seeded team in the NHL for the first round win in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.
While the Sharks have earned the President's trophy for winning the most points in the league during the regular season, their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup ends tonight. Meanwhile, the Ducks have become the fifth team to upset the NHL's best regular season team in the first round since the 1967-1968 season. They've also become the eigth team that was seeded at #8 to eliminate a #1 ranked team in the first round since the 1993-1994 season.
The Ducks will next face Detroit, on a date to be determined. While the upset of the #1 ranked team in 6 games is certainly something to celebrate, Detroit promises to be a much more difficult hurdle after sweeping Columbus in four games.
It seems that our history for the 2008-2009 season is still being written.
Lets Go Ducks.