The San Jose Sharks are by no means out of this series yet. But with every period, every game, the monkey on their back gets bigger and bigger and the hill they're climbing slowly starts to resemble a mountain.
Tonight, the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Sharks 3-2 in San Jose to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. And the Ducks -- the ones with a Cup and battle tested playoff experience -- are getting the better of a team that is creeping ever closer towards a reality that includes another early playoff exit.
Tonight, you have to give the Sharks some credit for effort. They came out firing and threw everything they could at netminderJonas Hiller
and the Ducks defense. 44 shots total but all they had to show for it was two goals and the fact that they still have not had a lead on the scoreboard during this series. None of that is going to take the sting off of what is surely a devastating loss.
With ten minutes to go, the Ducks held a 2-1 lead and both teams were battling as if it were Game Seven. Heck, it might as well have been. An even series heading to Game Three would look an awful lot different than 2-0 does right now.
Just past the seven minute mark of the period Andrew Ebbett knocked home a goal to give the Ducks a two goal cushion. Many in the crowd at the Shark Tank started heading for the exits, only to stop and turn around whenJonathan Cheechoo flew through the defense and put a wrister past Hiller 37 seconds later. But a game tying goal never came from the Sharks, who weren't able to pull their goalie until there were only about 30 seconds left due to a ferocious forecheck from the Ducks.. In the final minutes there was no sense of urgency and it seemed as if the Sharks were resigned to their fate.
The series now shifts back to Anaheim for Game Three and the Ducks are in the best position they could have hoped for. They're ahead 2-0 heading home with a chance to potentially complete a sweep on home ice. In net, they have a goalie who is simply on fire, stopping 77 of the 79 shots he has faced in this series and they've got an opponent on the ropes that has a growing monkey on its back and is haunted by the ghosts of playoff failures past.