Very little separated San Jose and Anaheim in the regular season Quenton Nelson Color Rush Jersey , with the Ducks edging out the Sharks by one point for second place in the Pacific Division.
Their first-round series wasn’t nearly as competitive.
The Sharks rode their superior depth, potent power play and stellar goaltending from Martin Jones to the second sweep in franchise history, knocking out the Ducks with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.
”We’re playing well going into the second round,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. ”Everybody is contributing if it’s offensively, blocking shots, taking a hit. Everybody is doing what they have to for us to win.”
After jumping on Anaheim early to win the first two games on the road, the Sharks earned a lopsided win in Game 3 thanks to undisciplined play by the Ducks and then withstood a strong push to end the series in Game 4.
Jones kept Anaheim at bay for long stretches in the second and third period before finally allowing a tying goal to Andrew Cogliano. San Jose then took 1:16 to answer and scored the eventual series-clincher when Vlasic’s point shot deflected off Tomas Hertl and into the net.
”The response goal was huge,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”We were on our heels. They were pressing. It’s tough to play an elimination game when you get an opportunity to sweep a really good team like that.”
The Sharks were in control for most of the series, outscoring the Ducks 16-4 in their most lopsided series in franchise history Taven Bryan Color Rush Jersey , according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
San Jose got as many goals from its fourth line in the series as Anaheim had from its entire team with Marcus Sorensen scoring his third of the series to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead in the first period of the clincher. Eric Fehr also had a goal from the fourth line in the series.
”Every night they hopped over the boards with energy and grabbed momentum for us, drew penalties,” DeBoer said. ”They were fantastic, but I’ve said from Day 1 we need to be a four-line team if we’re going to have success. And I think the teams that are moving through are. I watched Vegas a little bit last night. They’re a four-line team.”
The expansion Golden Knights are also the next team in the Sharks’ way. The two will meet in the second round starting sometime next week in just the second series in the past 22 years featuring teams coming off sweeps in the previous round.
Vegas finished off the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, part of a record-setting inaugural campaign that included a Pacific Division title in the regular season.
The Sharks will likely need another strong defensive effort next round led by Jones. He was brilliant in the clincher, making several tough saves against Corey Perry. He also had a shutout in Game 1 and set a San Jose playoff record with 45 regulation saves in Game 3.
He finished the series with a .970 save percentage, helping the Sharks earn their second sweep in franchise history after also doing it in the first round against Vancouver in 2013.
”Goaltending wins this time of the year,” forward Logan Couture said. ”He was fantastic. He made a lot of Grade A saves. He was our best penalty killer. They had some really good looks. Perry had a lot of chances that Joner made some big saves on.”
By extending their season another round, the Sharks may be able to get star center Joe Thornton back in the lineup. Thornton has been out since injuring his right knee on Jan. 23. He has resumed skating and took part in warmups throughout the series but has said he doesn’t want to return until he knows he’s healthy enough to help the team and make it through what he hopes will be a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Sharks have time now to figure that out.
”That’s all hypothetical http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-michael-dickson-jersey ,” DeBoer said. ”That doesn’t even cross our desk. Those decisions will be something if he is healthy we’ll make then. Sometimes those things sort themselves out. I’m just really proud of our group, the resiliency, the composure.”
The Golden State Warriors, so used to making things look easy, overcame one of their toughest tests to return to the NBA Finals.
They climbed out of huge holes in the last two games of the Western Conference finals to beat Houston, but may have to play in the first half the way they have after halftime if they hope to knock off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and repeat as champions.
”They played a great series, they made us work for everything … I’m just proud of the way we battled,” Klay Thompson said. ”We’ve been through a lot with this team, and believe it or not http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mike-mcglinchey-jersey , it’s not all success with the Warriors.”
”We’ve got our bumps throughout the season,” he continued. ”But to get to this point again, we earned it.”
Without Andre Iguodala again, the Warriors shook off another terrible first half in Game 7 on Monday night to rally for a 101-92 victory that made them the fifth team in NBA history to advance to the finals in four straight seasons.
Golden State trailed by 11 at halftime after being behind at the break by 10 points in Game 6, becoming the first team to win multiple elimination games in the same series when trailing by double digits after two quarters.
Coach Steve Kerr lamented that Golden State’s first half on Monday night was ”one of the most bizarre first halves” his team has played since he’s been with the Warriors and joked that he thought of resigning at halftime before getting serious.
”Our talent took over,” Kerr said. ”It’s as simple as that. We’ve got three of the best shot-makers in the league … we stayed with it.”
The trio – Thompson, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant – combined to score 47 points in the second half to pull away from a Rockets team that missed 27 straight 3-pointers from the second quarter to the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.
”I think it was just a level of experience and maturity from our group that helped us get to the finish line,” Curry said.
The Warriors outlasted the Rockets despite missing Iguodala for the last four games with a bone bruise on his left leg. It’s unclear if the 2015 NBA Finals MVP will return for Game 1 on Thursday, but if he does it will give Golden State a boost in trying to slow down James.
While Golden State certainly isn’t happy the way it started the last two games http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-richard-rodgers-jersey , its ability to turn things around in the second half gives the Warriors confidence heading into the next challenge. The Warriors outscored Houston 122-63 in the second half of the final two games.
Houston gave them a much bigger test than the Warriors have had in quite some time and this series was their first with three losses since the Cavaliers won the 2016 finals 4-3.
”Just keeping our composure was big for us the entire series,” Curry said. ”Whether we figured it out, win or lose, we showed a lot of fight, a lot of grit and resiliency to stay positive as we went through the series no matter what the situation was.”
Thompson was clear that the mistakes he made before halftime on Monday night won’t happen again. After scoring 35 points in Game 6, he collected three fouls in less than four minutes to force him to sit out most of the first quarter.
”I cannot do that next series, and that’s a big no-no,” he said. ”Learned my lesson. Those guys are great at drawing fouls but I’ve got to be smarter than that. That really hurt. I hated not being out there when I was supposed to.”
Curry, before he could look forward to the finals Tremaine Edmunds Color Rush Jersey , he took some time to reflect on what it took to get past the Rockets and appreciate the accomplishment of having another shot at the title.
”This was a part of our story that we hadn’t been through before,” he said. ”Our backs against the wall, not having home-court advantage, needing to win two games to keep ourselves alive. This is a true testament to how hard it is to get to the finals, how hard it is to have a chance to play for a championship.”