After ceding home ice in the final game of the regular season, the San Jose Sharks descended upon the Honda Center to face off against their longtime rival Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite playing on the road, the Sharks put on a strong showing to start off this postseason run.
The early part of the first period was relatively uneventful.
Four minutes into the game, Timo Meier drew a holding call for the Sharks and they went on their first power play of the postseason. The Sharks did not score on this man-advantage.
Slightly more than eleven minutes into the first, John Gibson’s net came off its moorings and a whistle sounded. Timo Meier was laying prone in the crease, clutching his face, after being held in a bear hug by Brandon Montour as he had no choice but to crash into Gibson. As we all know, this is a textbook case of goalie interference, and Meier went to the box. The Ducks failed to score here.
Ryan Kesler became the first of Anaheim’s letter-wearing players to head to the penalty box just under fourteen minutes into the game, with Tomas Hertl having drawn an interference penalty. The Sharks power play, and in particular Hertl and Burns, got a few decent looks at John Gibson, but could not put a puck past the goal line.
Shot count remained low through the first twenty, with both teams’ shot counts remaining in the single digits, but San Jose edging Anaheim 8-4.
The Sharks promptly went onto the penalty kill two minutes into the second frame, when Brenden Dillon was called for slashing. Somehow in the two minutes prior to that power play, a Duck had already held Marc-Edouard Vlasic in Gibson’s crease and Ryan Kesler had squeezed Tomas Hertl’s helmet off with no whistle. Thankfully, the Sharks successfully killed this penalty off as well.
Then, six minutes into the period, Hertl drew a slashing penalty from Andrew Cogliano and put the Sharks on the power play. Kevin Labanc promptly drew another slashing call from Ryan Getzlaf. Evander Kane was able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 man-advantage, putting the Sharks on the board with almost an entire power play left.
The Sharks did not score again with the remaining power play time.
Fourteen minutes into this frame, Pavelski fed to Kane again, who managed to score a filthy goal on the 2-on-1.
Continuing the Sharks’ scoring touch, Brent Burns scored a couple minutes later from slightly in front of the blue line.
Almost immediately after Burns’ goal, Corey Perry tried and failed to start a line brawl. Perry headed to the box for two minutes for roughing. The Sharks did not score on the ensuing power play.
Corey Perry starting stuff...— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) April 13, 2018
Shock of the centch... pic.twitter.com/QPvTTmPhLo
Forty minutes into the game, the Sharks returned to the dressing room up three on the road. Both teams recorded almost twice as many shots through the middle third as they did in the first frame.
Martin Jones started the third period off strong. Through the first forty, he had only faced 13 shots, but he didn’t look bored as he he stood strong against the first several shots in the final frame.
Ryan Kesler headed to the box just under twelve minutes into the third for interference against Logan Couture. The Sharks got a few decent looks with the man-advantage, but the Ducks were able to kill the penalty off.
While the majority of this period went without major incident, it should be noted that the Sharks had more than a few good looks and controlled play despite a desperate Ducks offense. With less than a minute left, a whistle sounded—Justin Braun was called for slashing. The Sharks went on the kill in the dying seconds of the game.
Corey Perry punched Brenden Dillon after the final whistle and was restrained by the game officials. Dillon was charged with a minor penalty at the 20 minute mark for cross-checking against Perry. Unfortunately for the Ducks, teams are generally unable to take advantage of a two-man advantage once the game clock has expired.
After sixty minutes, the Sharks emerged victorious with their three goals. Martin Jones posted a 25-save shutout, his fifth career playoff shutout. After tonight, the Sharks lead their first round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks (1-0).
The Sharks out-shot the Ducks 34-25. Let’s take a look at some pictures which are potentially more informative than raw “shots in the same direction as a goal”:
Several individuals predicted that this series and by extension this game would look relatively even. Indeed, the Sharks and Ducks exhibit relatively similar possession values…through the first period. Immediately prior to the first Sharks goal, their corsi immediately ramps up and stays appreciably higher than the Ducks’ for the remainder of the game.
The Sharks drove right to the net tonight. Both of Kane’s goals came from right within the slot, and Burns’ from just behind the right faceoff circle. The Sharks took a decent number of shots from either side of the goal.
The Ducks shots primarily originated from the left side, either between the faceoff circles or towards the crease. This did not work well.
- Joe Thornton took warm-ups with the team but did not take line rushes.
- Timo Meier was penalized two minutes for goalie interference during the first period; apparently being interfered with in the opposing crease is now goalie interference. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was not called when a similar sequence of events transpired at the top of the second.
- On a more serious note, Vlasic was spectacular tonight. He was always exactly where he needed to be in the defensive zone.
- Every Ducks player who wears a letter (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler) sat in the penalty box tonight. Leadership!
- Ryan Kesler sat in the box twice tonight. Leadership!
- There is a Chicago Blackhawks Gatorade Flow Commercial. The Hawks did not qualify for the playoffs. A similar commercial aired last year when the Blackhawks were swept in the first round. Somebody needs to tell this ad agency to stop using the Blackhawks.
- The Honda Center sounded pretty quiet on the broadcast compared to other playoff venues like Bell MTS Place, Bridgestone Arena, and T-Mobile Arena. Guess that’s what happens when the road team dominates over half of play.