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, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks won the
first three games of their first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks thanks
to having more speed, better depth, and discipline.They completed the sweep
thanks largely to Martin Jones.Jones frustrated the Ducks with stellar plays
over the final two periods and Tomas Hertl answered Anaheim’s only goal midway
through the third with a game-winner just over a minute later, sending the
Sharks into the second round with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday
night.”It’s tough to play an elimination game when you got an opportunity to
sweep a really good team like that,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. ”You
rarely see sweeps. That’s because there’s so much parity and the other teams are
so evenly matched. This is a tough game to play. I thought we had some good
moments and some moments we didn’t handle well, but we found a way, and that’s
been the story all year.”Hertl scored just 1:16 after the Ducks finally got a
puck past Jones when he deflected a point shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic past
John Gibson. San Jose then held on to advance to the second round against the
expansion Vegas Golden Knights.Fourth-line winger Marcus Sorensen had a goal for
the third straight game to open the scoring for San Jose and Jones did most of
the rest of the work with 30 saves. He robbed Corey Perry several times and got
help from a replay review that negated an apparent tying goal early in the
third.”When you play a team up against the wall like that you know they’re going
to come with a push,” Jones said. ”They gave us everything they had and it was
tough but the guys did a great job. We had a couple of huge penalty kills, some
huge blocked shots. It was a gutsy way to win there.”Andrew Cogliano scored the
lone goal for the Ducks, who were outscored 16-4 in the series and swept for the
first time since 1999 against Detroit. Gibson finished with 22 saves.”We came at
them pretty hard, obviously a couple of bounces here and there and it’s a
different hockey game,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. ”Their goaltender played
absolutely outstanding, we just couldn’t get it by him.”Gibson was unable to
match the play of Jones, who had a shutout in Game 1, set a San Jose playoff
record with 45 regulation saves in Game 3 and posted a .970 save percentage for
the series. He was at his best in the clincher that gave the Sharks their second
sweep in franchise history after also doing it in the first round in 2013
against Vancouver.Jones robbed Perry with a pad stop early in the second and
then again twice in one sequence later in the period. Anaheim looked poised to
capitalize on a late power play in the period but Jones stopped Perry once again
with a sprawling pad save.”It definitely was our best game and it still wasn’t
enough,” Perry said. ”You play this way the first couple of games you never know
what would happen, that’s the frustrating part.”Getzlaf then finally got a puck
past Jones, although it came a fraction of a second after the final buzzer.
Referee Eric Furlatt emphatically waved the goal off on the ice and Getzlaf
could only lean on the goal in frustration over the failed opportunity.That
frustration only grew as the power play continued into the third period. Rickard
Rakell appeared to tie the game with a one-timer but the Sharks challenged the
zone entry and the officials ruled Perry and Rakell were offside after video
review.Cogliano finally scored for Anaheim off a feed from Ryan Kesler but the
good feeling didn’t last long before Hertl responded.That led to chants of ”We
want Vegas!” and ”Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” down the stretch at the sold out Shark
Tank.”Any time you can score a goal after they score one pretty quickly, it kind
of deflates their bench,” forward Logan Couture said. ”We get energy again. It
brings energy back in the rink. Definitely felt good.”Even though the Ducks were
the team facing elimination, the Sharks looked more desperate at the start. San
Jose got the first seven shots on goal in the game and took the early lead with
another contribution from the fourth line.Sorensen, who spent most of the season
in the AHL, took the rebound of Brent Burns‘ point shot and scored his third
goal of the series less than six minutes into the game.NOTES: Perry had no
points in the series. … Linesman Brad Kovachik left the game in the first period
with an injury and was replaced by Mark Shewchyk. … San Francisco 49ers coach
Kyle Shanahan opened the dressing room door to lead the Sharks onto the ice
pregame.— BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) For all the buzz Rasmus Dahlin has generated at
just 18, the Swedish defenseman joked he had never encountered a mob scene such
as the one before him on Friday.There were as many as a dozen cameras and two
dozen more reporters packed three- and four-deep surrounding Dahlin Vladislav
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, seated on a stool at the NHL pre-draft
scouting combine in Buffalo.”Yeah, it’s pretty awesome actually,” Dahlin said,
his blond hair offset by the jet-black suit he wore. ”It’s the first time so
many cameras, I think. It’s fun. I love it.”Dahlin had better become accustomed
to it, because the lean, play-making and smooth-skating blue-liner should remain
the focus of attention in the days leading up to the NHL draft being held in
Dallas in three weeks. That’s when Dahlin is projected to be the first overall
pick and join Mats Sundin as the only other Swedish-born player to go No. 1.”If
that happens, I would be so glad and proud,” Dahlin said, his eyes growing
bigger at the mention of Sundin, who was selected No. 1 by the Quebec Nordiques
in 1989.At 6-foot-2 and 181 pounds, Dahlin is considered the most NHL-ready
prospect in this year’s draft class for his all-around ability. He’s already
drawing comparisons to other elite Swedish defensemen, such as former Detroit
star and seven-time Norris Trophy-winner Nicklas Lidstrom and Ottawa captain and
two-time Norris winner Erik Karlsson.”All those characteristics they bring to
the game, Dahlin has the same potential to bring those same characteristics,”
NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr, told The Associated Press last
week.”It’s not fair to compare him to those players, but everything that made
them successful National Hockey League players, this kid has it in his game,”
Marr added. ”This here’s a player that could be a cornerstone to a franchise.
And he’ll be a staple on their blue line for years and years to come.”It’s not
just one aspect of Dahlin’s game in which he excels, Marr said. It’s all of
them.Whether it’s hitting, scoring or defending, Marr said Dahlin has ”shown he
can rise to the occasion or rise to perform whatever needs to be done for that
situation.”And the significance of Dahlin being in Buffalo for the combine
wasn’t lost on anyone, given the Sabres own the top pick .General manager Jason
Botterill isn’t tipping his hand on whether he’ll select Dahlin, but coach Phil
Housley has already been crowing about the youngster’s potential.”I’ve been
watching on YouTube, and boy it’s incredible Bobby
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,” Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman, told The Buffalo
News last month. ”He’s going to be a complete package in today’s NHL.”Among the
prospects ranked behind Dahlin by central scouting are Russian forward Andrei
Svechnikov, who played in the Ontario Junior League last season, and Boston
University’s Brady Tkachuk, the son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk.Dahlin is
taking nothing for granted in saying, he’s not sure of the Sabres’
intentions.”Of course, nothing is done,” he said. ”But yeah, if I’m coming here,
I would love to be here. I heard they have great fans and everybody loves hockey
here.”Dahlin got his first taste of Buffalo’s hockey fans this past winter when
he was part of Sweden’s silver medal-winning team at the World Junior hockey
championships held in the city. Some five months later, the sting of a 3-1 loss
to Canada in the championship game had mostly worn off.”At that moment it was
pretty bad,” said Dahlin, one of four Swedish players disciplined by the
International Ice Hockey Federation for refusing to wear the silver medal during
the postgame ceremony. ”But now, if I look back to the tournament, it was a
great tournament. It was awesome to be here. We had a great team. We were so
close.”Dahlin was named the tournament’s top defenseman after finishing with six
assists in seven games. At just 17, he then represented Sweden at the Winter
Olympics, where he had an assist in two games. Add to that, Dahlin scored seven
goals and 13 assists in 41 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, and
earned junior player of the year honors.”I went through so many great
experiences. I’ve been to so many new places. I’ve grown as a guy, too,” Dahlin
said attempting to put the year into perspective. ”I’m a teenager that’s growing
every day just as a person.”Once the session with reporters ended, Dahlin made
his way to a bank of windows overlooking Buffalo’s newly redeveloped inner
harbor, and soaked in the view.—
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