Sharks

Sharks down Ducks in blowout to take 3-0 series lead

Sharks down Ducks in blowout to take 3-0 series lead

BOX SCORE

The Sharks blew out the Anaheim Ducks on 8-1 Monday night to take a 3-0 lead in their first round series. Joonas Donskoi, Logan Couture (three points apiece), Evander Kane, Timo Meier,  Joe Pavelski, and Marcus Sorensen (two) had multi-point nights as San Jose chased Anaheim starter John Gibson after scoring five goals in two periods. 

Couture opened the scoring with his second of the postseason 3:44 into the contest, tapping in a Mikkel Boedker pass off of an odd-man opportunity. Boedker used his speed and shielded the puck from Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, finding Couture alone in front of the net for the first of five goals off the rush. 

Rickard Rakell tied the game on the power play a couple minutes past the midway point of the period. Rakell's goal, assisted by Brandon Montour and Ryan Getzlaf, was each player's first point of the series. 

Anaheim largely outplayed San Jose for much of the second period, attempting 61.37 percent of the five-on-five shots in the middle frame. But the Sharks burned the Ducks in transition early, scoring two goals within the first four minutes of the second. 

Joonas Donskoi finished a give-and-go with Evander Kane just 75 seconds into the period, while Donskoi set up Marcus Sorensen on another two-on-one 2:26 later. Two goals on the first three shots gave San Jose a two-goal lead, and the rout was on 10 minutes later.

Eric Fehr shook Andrew Cogliano, and snuck a shot past John Gibson to give the Sharks a three-goal lead with 6:17 remaining on the second. Tempers flared soon after, as Nick Ritchie took the extra minor following a scrum with Dylan DeMelo 45 seconds after Fehr's goal.

Francois Beauchemin put Anaheim down two men with a slash, and it appeared San Jose scored on the ensuing power play. Reviews showed the puck did not cross the line, but Tomas Hertl made the four-goal lead official soon after, completing a tic-tac-toe play with a one-timer from the slot. 

Ryan Miller took over for Gibson to start the third, and Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf took two penalties on the same shift seven-and-a-half minutes in, and Sharks captain Joe Pavelski capitalized on the ensuing second power play to put his team up 6-1. Anaheim fully unraveled after Pavelski's goal, as Corey Perry cross-checked Kevin Labanc a little over a minute later, and Getzlaf hit the showers early with a misconduct. 

Ryan Kesler joined the penalty parade with a slashing penalty with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation, and Kane converted to give the Sharks a 7-1 lead. San Jose continued to pour it on with less than a minute to go, when Chris Tierney scored the eighth goal with Brandon Montour in the box for yet another penalty, sealing an 8-1 win. 

13 of 18 Sharks finished the game with at least a point, and all but three had a shot on goal. Monday marked the first time in franchise history San Jose scored eight goals in a playoff game, and the first time since Oct. 8, 2013 overall. 

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Joonas Donskoi was in the right place at the right time -- twice. He gathered the loose puck in the neutral zone after Montour lost an edge to enter the Ducks zone on his first goal, then stole the puck in his own end and carried it the length of the ice to set up Sotensen's.

The Finnish forward was held without a shot on goal in the first two games of the series, and the Sharks were once again out-possessed with him on the ice five-on-five, but he made key plays to give San Jose breathing room in the second period. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ducks: 1-for-3 on the power play; 4-for-8 on the penalty kill

Sharks: 4-for-8 on the power play; 2-for-3 on the penalty kill

San Jose has only killed off six of eight Anaheim penalties in this series, but it hasn't mattered. The Ducks have been shorthanded 17 times in three games, and the Sharks have scored six power play goals. 

The game was already mostly out of reach, but six of Anaheim's eight penalties on Monday occurred in the third period, five of which were committed by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler. All three players wear letters for the Ducks.

IN GOAL

Ducks: John Gibson was mostly hung out to dry, but backup Ryan Miller didn't fare much better with his teammates in the box throughout the third. The duo stopped only 28 of the 36 shots they faced, and Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle will have a decision to make ahead of a do-or-die Game 4. 

Sharks: Martin Jones was stellar once again. He set a Sharks playoff record with 45 saves in regulation, and has only given up a single five-on-five goal this postseason. 

TURNING POINT

Donskoi's goal, the eventual game-winner, came mostly against the run of play. The Ducks were starting to establish a solid puck possession game, but had to play catch-up for the remainder of the second period as well as the game, and ultimately lost their composure in the third. 

INJURY UPDATE

Ducks: Defenseman Josh Manson left the game briefly, but returned. Fellow blueliner Andy Welinski drew back into the lineup for Kevin Bieksa, who played in his place in Game 2, but the Ducks made no other lineup changes. 

Sharks:  Brent Burns did not play in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters after the game that Burns' absence was cautionary. Joe Thornton (right MCL) participated in the pregame warm-ups, but was once again scratched. The Sharks made no other lineup changes. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Sharks can conclude the series and advance to face the winner of Golden Knights-Kings with a Game 4 victory on Wednesday. Pregame Live starts at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports California, while our game coverage begins at 7:30.

Sharks to open second round Thursday

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AP

Sharks to open second round Thursday

The Sharks know when they'll open the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. T

San Jose will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the second round at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday, April 26 in Sin City, the NHL announced Tuesday. The league also announced start dates for the three other second-round series, but did not announce any games beyond that.

Game 2 will "likely" occur Saturday at 5 p.m, according to Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. 

Game 1 will be televised on NBCSN. Sharks Playoff Central will air on NBC Sports California at 6:30 p.m. leading up to puck drop, with a postgame edition to follow after the final horn on the same channel. 

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

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AP

Red-hot Sharks power play, Golden Knights penalty kill on collision course

The Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights were the first two teams to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The former's power play, and the latter's penalty kill were among the chief reasons why. 

This postseason, San Jose's power play (30 percent) and Vegas' penalty kill (92.3 percent) are third-best and best in the respective categories. The Sharks haven't played in nearly a week, but have still scored the second-most power play goals (six) in the first round as of Tuesday. The Golden Knights haven't played in exactly a week, and have still given up the fewer power play goals (one)  than every team, save for the Los Angeles Kings, who they swept in the first round. 

On the season, the San Jose power play and the Vegas penalty kill were among the better units in the league in terms of underlying numbers, but really improved down the stretch. Over their last 25 regular season games and the first round, the Sharks attempted shots (117.15 corsi-for per hour) and generated expected goals (9.13 expected goals-for per hour)) at rates that would have ranked second in each area on the whole season, according to Corsica Hockey.

During the Golden Knights' final 25 regular season games and first four playoff games, their penalty kill suppressed shot attempts (92.8 corsi-against per hour), shots (49.97 shots-against per hour), and expected goals (5.9 expected goals-against per hour) at rates that would have ranked second, fourth, and first, respectively, this past season.

In the first round, the results finally caught up to the underlying numbers for both teams. San Jose converted on only 13 percent of its power plays in the final 25 games of the regular season, while Vegas killed off 80.8 percent of its opponents' power plays. As is so often the case, the improvements were owed at least in part to better finishing and goaltending. 

The Sharks scored on 9.71 percent of their five-on-four shots down the stretch, compared to 14.71 percent in the first round. Marc-Andre Fleury posted a .952 four-on-five save percentage in the first round, compared to the .859 that he and backup Malcolm Subban combined for in the final 25 games. 

San Jose's power play and Vegas' penalty kill are red-hot, but those results are largely deserved based on each group's play down the stretch. Which unit has the edge just may swing the series, considering how tight the Sharks and Golden Knights played each other during the regular season. 

Three of four games were decided by a goal, and two went to overtime. The fourth was decided by two, only because of an empty-netter. 

The margins are so thin, including in the crease, that the outcome of this special teams battle could determine which team advances to the Conference Finals.