GAME 3 PREVIEW: Down 0-2, Ducks face Sharks in San Jose (7p, Prime Ticket)
Heading into Game 3 of a first-round playoff series, the San Jose Sharks attribute their success to attention to detail and a hard-nosed mindset that won’t allow them to be pushed out of games.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks are looking for their best players to help get the offense back in gear before becoming an opening-round afterthought.
San Jose looks to move within a win of advancing to the second round on Monday night against Anaheim at SAP Center.
The Ducks claimed home-ice advantage in the first round by winning 10 of their final 12 regular-season games to finish one point ahead of the Sharks. But winger Logan Couture said San Jose met an early objective after winning twice in Orange County.
We look to turn around our First Round series tonight in San Jose. #LetsGoDucks
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) April 16, 2018
“That was the goal coming in, to win the first one and not be satisfied with the split,” he said.
Martin Jones was key to the Sharks’ wins at Honda Center. He turned aside 25 shots for his fifth career playoff shutout in a 3-0 Game 1 victory on Thursday. After giving up a goal on the first shot he faced in Game 2, Jones finished with 28 stops in a 3-2 victory on Saturday.
Jones has won at least 30 games in each of his three seasons with San Jose under Peter DeBoer, who has come to expect that consistency.
“Jonesy’s been a rock for us this time of year,” DeBoer said Saturday.
Now the series shifts to Silicon Valley, where the Sharks won 11 of their final 16 games en route to a 25-13-3 record. San Jose is 22-14 all time in Game 3s — including 13-7 at home — and Anaheim is 15-13.
“We’re a tough team to play against. You’ve got to earn your way to beat us in a game,” DeBoer said.
Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour is aware of the challenge.
“We’ve been down two (games) before,” he said. “They’ve got to win four. The series isn’t over. San Jose’s got a tough building and we’ve got to go in and match that.”
San Jose went 1-0-1 at home against Anaheim in the regular season. On Nov. 4, Joonas Donskoi notched the game-winner in the sixth round to give the Sharks a 2-1 win.
Just over two weeks later, the teams went to a nine-round tiebreaker and Antoine Vermette beat Jones to give the Ducks a 3-2 victory.
Jones has yielded only eight goals in his last four home games against the Ducks but has a 1-2-1 record.
Hampus Lindholm — one of four Ducks defensemen with at least 30 points this season — leads the team in scoring with a goal and an assist. No other blue liner has a point.
“We have to go out there and outwork them, and get those wins that are going to be huge for us,” Lindholm said. “All year here, people have been counting us out a lot of times. We’ve been stepping it up here when we need it the most, so I believe in this group here.”
Another player who has struggled is Anaheim goaltender John Gibson, who has stopped 63 of 69 shots. But coach Randy Carlyle doesn’t plan on changing things and will stick with Gibson even though Ryan Miller has 28 career playoff wins.
“When you play 82 games, there’s lot of reset buttons that have been hit over the course of the season,” Carlyle said. “We understand the desperation that’s going to be necessary for us to go in and play well in their building.”
Gibson was 12-8-4 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 25 road starts this season. His only career start in San Jose came Oct. 25, 2016, when he gave up a goal to Marc-Edouard Vlasic 84 seconds into overtime of a 2-1 loss.
Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday night in San Jose.