8. Anaheim Ducks 2
1. San Jose Sharks 0

Anaheim leads series 1-0

With a regular season record of 32-5-4 at home in the HP Pavilion at San Jose, the Sharks have proven to be nearly impossible to beat.

This is not the regular season.

The Anaheim Ducks showed they are still mighty, shutting out the President’s Cup winning Sharks in front of their stunned home crowd 2-0.

The 2007 Stanley Cup champions, who barely made the playoffs, relied on Jonas Hiller in net, who wrestled the starting job from former Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastien Giguer near the end of the season. Hiller played 6 games for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League in 2007-2008 before playing 23 games for Anaheim. He played in 46 games in the regular season. Hiller stopped 35 shots to record his first playoff victory, and shutout, in his career.

It’s sure easier to start with a win,” Hiller said to NHL.com media. “Now San Jose almost has to win the next one, so that’s some pressure on them, but they’re a great team.”

Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer finally broke the ice at 5:18 of the 3rd period. “There are things we did well, but the game really could have gone either way,” Niedermayer said to the media after the game. “(Hiller) stepped up and made a couple of saves, and they hit a couple of posts. They came at us pretty good, but we still felt pretty good about how we played.”

Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf to sealed the deal by scoring a goal just after being released from the penalty box for a 2-minute elbowing minor at 17:35 of the 3rd period.

“We felt like we (controlled) the majority of the play, but that’s just hockey,” Sharks center Joe Thornton said to post-game media. “We’ve got to keep people in front of the net, keep getting shots, and it’ll work for us. ... We’ve got a good veteran club here, and last year we lost Game 1 against Calgary. We’ve got to think about this for five minutes, and then we’ll move on.” Thornton was credited with only one shot on goal in the game.

The Sharks, loaded with veteran talent, were unable to break through Hiller, who also received help from the post. Centers Patrick Marleau 1 and Jeremy had one shot on goal each. Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored 12 goals in the regular season and had a total of 29 points, had two shots on goal in the loss.

San Jose also will need its power play unit to find itself once again. The Sharks power play, which scored 87 goals on 360 attempts, for a regular season conversion percentage of 24.2 went 0 for 6 on the night.

3 Stars of the Night
1. Jonas Hiller, G, Anaheim, 35 saves, shutout
2. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, +1, 1 SOG
3. Todd Marchant, Anaheim, 1 SOG

7. Columbus Blue Jackets 1
2. Detroit Red Wings 4

Detroit leads series 1-0

In the playoffs, every shift counts. In the case of Jackets C Manny Malhotra, one shift may have very well cost his team the game.

“I saw the shot all the way and I wanted to grab it,” Malhotra said to NHL.com columnist John Kreiser. “But I didn’t get enough of it, obviously.”

Malhotra attempted to grab a shot from the point by Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Rather than knocking the puck down, Malhotra inadvertently deflected the shot past Columbus netminder Steve Mason.

A mere 48 seconds later, Red Wings RW Johan Franzen set up a screen for defenseman Niklas Kronwall to shoot through on the power play. The Columbus Blue Jackets were never able to recover, and ultimately lost 4-1.

Detroit netminder Chris Osgood, who has a huge weight on his shoulder as many believe that he is the “weakest link” in the defending champion Red Wings roster, stood tall and made key saves when needed. He only allowed one goal on 21 shots by the Blue Jackets.

For the record books, the first goal in Columbus Blue Jackets playoff history was scored by center R.J. Umberger, assisted by RW Jakub Voracek at 11:40 of the second period.

3 Stars of the Night
1. Chris Osgood, G, Detroit, 20 saves, .952 save%
2. Jiri Hudler, C, Detroit, 1 goals, 1 assist, 2 points., +2, 3 SOG
3. Nicklas Lidstrom, D, Detroit, +1, 1 SOG

6. St. Louis Blues 1
3. Vancouver Canucks 2

Vancouver leads series 1-0

The penalty box doors received a great workout in this series opening game between the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks. A total of 15 minor penalties were issued along with two misconducts, which ultimately lead to seven power plays for St. Louis and six for Vancouver (a total of 13).

Scoring for the night was opened by Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, who scored even strength at 10:03 of the 1st period. The rest of the evening, the teams traded man-up situations. St. Louis ended up 1 for 7 on the power play (goal by Brad Boyes) while Vancouver went 1 for 6 (goal by Sami Salo).

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo made 25 saves, including key saves on a 3-on-5 situation for the Canucks.

“Obviously on a 5-on-3 you need your goalie to be your best penalty-killer,” Canucks LW Alexandre Burrows said to post-game media. “Definitely (Luongo) made some big saves there, especially the last one when he able to keep the rebound too.”

3 Stars of the Night
1. Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver, 25 saves, .962 save %
2. Andy McDonald, C, 1 assist, 1 point, 3 SOG
3. Ryan Kesler, 3 SOG

5. Calgary Flames 2
4. Chicago Blackhawks 3

Chicago leads series 1-0

After seven long years, the city of Chicago was treated to a playoff hockey game at home. The game itself went a full 60 minutes of regulation and 12 seconds of sudden death overtime to resolve.

Chicago RW Martin Havlat played the hero, as he scored the game tying goal with only 5:33 left in regulation to send the game into overtime. A mere 12 seconds after the opening faceoff of the overtime period, Havlat received a pass from Chicago center Dave Bolland – who had knocked down a terrible Calgary “down the middle” clearing pass – and put the puck past Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. Blackhawks LW Andrew Ladd provided a questionable screen in which he entered the crease and made contact with Kiprusoff, however it was ruled that he was pushed into the Flames goaltender.

Havlat told NHl.com correspondent Stuart Shea, “It doesn’t matter who scored the goal. We got the first game the hard way. After the incredibly sudden-death overtime, he was quoted as saying, “I know Ladd was in front. I took the pass from Bolland and went to the net.”

Calgary Flames head coach Mike Keenan saw things differently. “I believe it was Ladd who did not try to stop his movement toward the net and that’s goaltender interference,” Keenan said to the media after the overtime loss. “However, the officials saw it different or didn’t make the call because of the excitement of overtime.”

Calgary RW David Moss and Mike Cammalleri were able to put pucks past Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, but it was not enough to provide a win for the Flames. Cammalleri’s goal, scored on a 2-on-1 was a text book treatment of such a situation and a top shelf shot over Khabibulin, who had no chance on the play.

3 Stars of the Night
1. Martin Havlat, RW, Chicago, 2 goals, 2 points, 4 SOG
2. Michael Cammalleri, LW, Calgary, 1 goal, 1 point, +1, 2 SOG
3. Cam Barker, D, Chicago, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, +1, 6 SOG

Western Conference – News and Notes

On Monday, April 13, the Colorado Avalanche announced that Executive VP/General Manager Francois Giguere was relieved of his duties. Effective immediately, Avalanche President and Alternate Governor Pierre Lacroix will oversee the franchise until a new management structure is announced.

On Wednesday, April 15, Edmonton Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini announced the club relieved Craig MacTavish of his head coaching duties.

Beware circling sharks, red hot flames, and flying octopi!