- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ANAHEIM, CALIF. (AP) - Patrick Marleau scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with 9:27 left, and the San Jose Sharks evaded a daunting playoff deficit with a 4-3 victory over Anaheim in Game 3 on Tuesday night, trimming the Ducks’ series lead to 2-1.

Dan Boyle had two goals and an assist, and fellow defenseman Rob Blake had a goal and an exceptional assist on Marleau’s winner for the top-seeded Sharks, who had scored just twice while losing the first two games of their series against the eighth-seeded Ducks at home.

Desperately needing a win in Game 3, the Presidents’ Trophy winners improved their offensive efforts and eventually got the tiebreaking goal from their captain, who beat Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller with a slick deflection of Blake’s pass. The goal was Marleau’s ninth career playoff game-winner.

Bobby Ryan, James Wisniewski and Chris Pronger scored for the Ducks, who kept pace with the Sharks’ improved efforts, but never could take the lead in a lively, penalty-filled game. Hiller stopped 31 shots, but didn’t have the indomitable form of the Ducks’ first two victories.

The home team has never led in this all-California series, which continues with Game 4 on Thursday night. Game 5 is back at the Shark Tank on Saturday night.

Evgeni Nabokov made 27 saves for the Sharks, who realized any logical hope of winning the series hung on Game 3. San Jose took three one-goal leads in the first two periods, but Anaheim tied it each time.

The Sharks finally broke through midway through the third, when Chris Perry took a hotly disputed hooking penalty. Marleau was barely noticeable in the series’ first eight periods, but he got his 36th career playoff goal while serving as a backboard for Blake, whose expert pass banked off Marleau’s stick in front.

San Jose’s effort was driven by Blake and Boyle, the keystone offseason acquisitions by general manager Doug Wilson following his club’s third straight second-round playoff ouster. Looking to improve the blue line’s skill and playoff experience, he signed Blake and swung a trade with Tampa Bay for Boyle and Brad Lukowich, who both won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.

Boyle, an All-Star for the Sharks this season, came through with two big goals in the first 22 minutes of Game 3. Blake got the game’s first goal and added its most important pass while playing an all-around physical game.

The Sharks’ effort was a clear departure from their middling efforts in the first two games, when San Jose barely scored despite a 79-43 advantage in shots. The Sharks matched that goal total in the first 13:07 in Anaheim, including their first power play goal of the series on their 14th man-advantage, and took 20 shots in the first period alone.

With the Sharks showing life from the opening faceoff and the Ducks on their usual edge of legality, there were 26 penalty minutes in the first period of Game 3, with six penalties in the first 6 minutes _ including a 4-minute high-sticking call on Marleau just 17 seconds in.

San Jose claimed its first lead of the series about 5 1/2 minutes in with a goal by Blake, the 39-year-old defenseman who spent nearly 14 seasons just up the I-5 freeway with the Los Angeles Kings. His shot from the point went through traffic and deflected off the left skate of Anaheim’s Drew Miller.

After Ryan evened it when Nabokov kicked a rebound into his own net, Boyle put the Sharks back ahead with their first score of the series on a power play, slipping a short shot just over Hiller’s outstretched pad. Wisniewski tied it again with his first career playoff goal, slipping a low shot past Rob Niedermayer’s screen.

Boyle scored his second goal early in the second, but Pronger tied it again by slamming home Joe Pavelski’s turnover in the slot for his 20th career playoff goal.

San Jose looked for an energy boost from center Torrey Mitchell, who played for the first time all season after breaking his left leg on the second day of training camp. The speedy forward has been skating with the club for a few weeks, but his addition to the lineup was a last-minute surprise.

Notes:@ Ducks C Todd Marchant and D Francois Beauchemin both missed practice Monday for the birth of children. Marchant’s son, Bradley David, was his fourth child, while Beauchemin’s new daughter, Emily, is his second. … Wisniewski, acquired by Anaheim in a deadline deal with Chicago, was the fourth Anaheim player to score his first career postseason goal in the past two games, joining Ryan, Miller and Andrew Ebbett. … San Jose’s Doug Murray and Anaheim’s George Parros had the series’ first fight in the final moments of the first period, with Murray holding his own against the Ducks’ enforcer.

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