Although the San Jose Sharks wouldn't go down without a fight or two, the Anaheim Ducks can take a punch as impressively as they took this playoff series from the NHL's best regular-season team.
Teemu Selanne and Francois Beauchemin scored their first playoff
goals 43 seconds apart in the second period, and the eighth-seeded
Ducks ousted the Presidents' Trophy-winning Sharks from the first
round with a 4-1 victory Monday night.
Jonas Hiller made 36 saves to finish his phenomenal playoff series debut for the Ducks, who won a fight-filled Game 6 clincher in a remarkable playoff upset two years after winning the franchise's only Stanley Cup.
With a dynamic offensive effort that negated all the Sharks' physical bluster, Anaheim became the third team to beat the NHL's top regular-season club in the first round since 2000, and just the fifth since 1968. The Ducks are the eighth No. 8 seed to win a playoff series since 1994, largely dominating the league's first all-California postseason series in 40 years.
The simmering in-state rivalry boiled into a slugfest with 60 total penalty minutes and a long series of brawls, including a surprising scrap between stars Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf 2 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Thornton pummeled Getzlaf in the fight - but the Ducks center landed the decisive blow with 2:56 to play, scoring an unassisted goal that wrapped up the series.
Corey Perry also scored as Anaheim advanced to face second-seeded Detroit, which swept Columbus out of the first round. The defending Stanley Cup champions are favorites to defend their title - but few gave the Ducks much chance against the once-mighty Sharks, either.
Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves and Milan Michalek scored the game's first goal for the Sharks, who completed the biggest playoff collapse in a franchise history full of them. San Jose led the NHL with franchise records for points (117) and wins (53) during the regular season, but the club has been past the second round of the postseason just once, in 2004.
The Ducks were outshot in every game, but overcame it with timely scoring and a phenomenal playoff debut by Hiller, the Swiss goalie who allowed just 10 goals and posted two shutouts.
Getzlaf and Thornton dropped their gloves immediately - something happened between the centers during Game 5 in San Jose on Saturday night, where they exchanged insults and shoves on at least two occasions. Thornton landed at least two flush punches to Getzlaf's face, eventually landing on top of the younger Anaheim
Selanne broke a tie during a power play, slipping the puck in front of the net where it apparently glanced off a San Jose stick. A few moments later, Beauchemin launched a shot from the blue line that appeared to glance off Dan Boyle's stick and past Nabokov. The Ducks then were free to sit back and take the Sharks' best shots in the third period.
San Jose has won four Pacific Division titles in the past seven seasons, but has never made it beyond the 2004 Western Conference
finals, losing three straight second-round series before this humiliating first-round ouster under rookie coach Todd McLellan.
The loss might be the final game in the 20-year career of Jeremy Roenick, who postponed retirement to make two more runs at his first Stanley Cup. Rob Blake, the 39-year-old defenseman who signed a one-year deal with San Jose last summer, also could be gone, as could 43-year-old Claude Lemieux, who made a comeback after a 5½-year NHL absence.