April 17-- SAN JOSE, Calif.-The San Jose Sharks showed poise and more than a little bit of resiliency in bringing back to SAP Center a 2-0 lead in their opening round NHL playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Game 3 showed one thing above everything else, though. That the Sharks are simply too much right now for their Southern California rivals.
The Sharks blew open a tie game with four goals in the second period and went on to set a handful of team playoff records to push the Ducks to the brink of elimination with an 8-1 win.
Eight different players scored a goal and goalie Martin Jones set a new career playoff high with 45 saves as the Sharks put themselves in a position to earn a first round sweep with another win over the Ducks in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The Sharks' eight goals set a new team playoff record, and their four power play goals tied a team postseason record. Every Sharks forward had at least one point.
The only potential drawback, though, was the absence of Brent Burns for the final 10 minutes of the third period. There was no immediate explanation for why he sat out, with coach Pete DeBoer saying that there was no reason to re-insert Burns into the game with the outcome no longer in doubt.
It wound up as the most lopsided Sharks win over the Ducks in recent memory.
Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen scored goals 2:26 apart in the second period to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Eric Fehr added his first goal of the postseason with 6:17 to go in the second on a nifty individual effort, and Tomas Hertl capped the dizzying 20 minutes with a power play goal with 3:11 to go.
The Sharks might have needed to grind out a 3-2 win over the Ducks in Game 2 of their opening round playoff series. Not in Game 3, when it became perfectly obvious that the Sharks were way too fast for Anaheim.
Asked after Game 1 if it had already been demonstrated that the Sharks were the faster team, coach Pete DeBoer said, "Are we faster than them? I don't think one game tells you that. I liked our team speed, I liked how we played. And we have to continue to do that."
They have. For a number of reasons.
The Sharks had received better goaltending in this series, but another reason why they came home with a 2-0 series lead was the play of their top six forwards.
Joe Pavelski had three assists in the first two games in Anaheim, two coming on goals from Evander Kane. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl each had a goal an assist.
The Ducks, meanwhile, were still waiting for their leading scorers to make an impact.
Rickard Rakell, who had 34 goals and 69 points in the regular season, had been held to just two shots on goal in two games. Top assist man Ryan Getzlaf had one assist, in Game 2, but it came on Hampus Lindholm's power play goal. Corey Perry, Ondrej Kase and Adam Henrique were all held scoreless.
Now the Sharks had last change and the chance to put shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun on the ice against Anaheim's top line after every stoppage in play.
Rakell scored a power play goal at the 13:40 mark of the first period for his first point of the series. Only once this season had Rakell been held without a point in three consecutive Ducks games, which happened back in October.
The line of Couture, Hertl and Mikkel Boedker saw quite a bit of time against the Ducks' top line.
No one in teal was thinking about what Anaheim accomplished in 2017 when it lost the first two games of its second round series against the Edmonton Oilers only to bounce back to win the next two games in the Alberta capital.
Still, Anaheim felt much better about the way it played in Game 2 on Saturday and were plenty capable of shifting momentum with one win. The Ducks only lost three straight games in regulation time once this season, from March 8-12, which was followed by a 10-1-1 streak.
"You can point to any situation in history and come up with something that went bad or went south. That doesn't enter into our feeling," DeBoer said. "We've worked to get this lead and we're going to continue to work. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy. They're going to play well, and they might win a game tonight and we might have to regroup.
"We know this isn't going to be easy. But we're not looking for the sky falling theory."
Jones had stopped 53 of the 55 shots he faced through two games for a .964 save percentage. Only one other time with the Sharks had Jones been this solid to start a series-in 2016 when he registered shutouts in games 2 and 3 against St. Louis, after allowing two goals in the series opener, in the Western Conference Final.
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