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THN.com Playoff Blog: Skill, depth, goaltending topples NHL's top team

Joe Thornton fights with Ryan Getzlaf in Game 6 of their series in Anaheim. The Ducks won the game 4-1 and the series 4-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Joe Thornton fights with Ryan Getzlaf in Game 6 of their series in Anaheim. The Ducks won the game 4-1 and the series 4-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It happened again.

Another great-regular-season-and-out for the San Jose Sharks.

In a shocker that's sure to shake the foundations in San Jose, the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks completed their upset of the NHL's best team in the regular season with a convincing 4-1 win in Game 6.

Repercussions in San Jose to follow, to be sure.

But for now, a six-storyline tribute to Anaheim's six-game upset of mighty San Jose:

1. Getzlaf loses fight, but wins war in battle of No. 1s
Once again, Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf saw plenty of each other and they quickly made it clear they were tired of it, dropping the gloves and fighting on the opening faceoff. Give Thornton the decision on the bout, but the long game went Getzlaf's way – in a big way. The big Ducks center was a physical force all night and his line – with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan – outchanced Thornton, with quiet Patrick Marleau and contained Devin Setoguchi. Getzlaf won the offensive-zone faceoffs that led to Anaheim's first two goals, both on the power play; wristed the point shot that Perry batted in to tie the game 1-1 (on a 15-second 4-on-3 advantage); and scored the 4-1 dagger late in the third period, leaving Thornton smoldering on the bench. Beyond that, it was Getzlaf's game; Thornton skated and competed well, but Getzlaf just got stronger as the game wore on. While Thornton played with drive, going to the net and trying to set up linemates, he was mostly foiled and frustrated on the night, the target of every Duck within wingspan.

2. Two second period own goals
The turning point of the game came midway through the second period, on a power play (you may notice a theme). Teemu Selanne's shot hit Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's stick and deflected past Evgeni Nabokov. Eighty-three seconds later, at even strength, Francois Beauchemin's point blast hit Dan Boyle's stick in the slot and, again, deflected past a screened Nabokov. Now it's 3-1 Ducks, there's five-and-a-half minutes left in the second…and Getzlaf wins the next faceoff and generates another chance on the subsequent play. For Boyle, it's an especially tough pill; the Sharks defenseman was a very involved participant all night, whether it was generating chances or decking Perry in the corner at the end of the second to cause a ruckus (and earn an extra minor). Boyle created a lot of offense, too, and was a go-to option on the point during power plays. Alas, to no avail.

3. Penalty parade and power play goals
How about six power plays before the first period was 13 minutes old? How's that grab you? The teams exchanged power play markers in the first and Selanne's game-winning goal in the second period also came on the man advantage. For San Jose, Milan Michalek's marker was his first goal – and point – of the series. The refs called it tight – very tight – in the first, then had to deal with scrums and scraps in the second and third. In the end, there were 10 power plays, accounting for the game's first three goals.

4. Anaheim's fourth line a force
Hello, Mike Brown, George Parros and Ryan Carter. The Ducks' fourth-liners came to play and were a factor on virtually every shift. But aside from the usual physicality – which they brought in full volume – the line created several scoring opportunities, over several shifts. Who knew? Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, apparently, who gave the unit a pretty regular shift and was rewarded when it was the Parros and Co. bunch crashing the net when Beauchemin scored. Brown, especially, displayed speed on the play and it was emblematic of his solid play whenever he was on the ice.

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5. Secondary scorer Selanne in the second
After an ice-cold first period, which included a hooking penalty, Selanne warmed up quickly in the middle frame. He had a handful of scoring chances before his bank shot off Ehrhoff's stick gave the Ducks a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Selanne sat on the bench while the Ducks killed penalties in the first half of the first period, but when he got untracked in the second, along with linemate Andrew Ebbett, it forced San Jose to focus beyond Getzlaf and friends.

6. Finally…All The Other Stories
Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, like Anaheim's top line, logged a lot of ice time and made the most of it. Anaheim's tower of power takes on Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and big ol' Johan Franzen in Round 2…Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, again, was stellar when called upon. He gave up more rebounds than necessary, but wasn't penalized for it. He stopped Thornton from in tight in the first and made an exclamation-point stretch save on Boyle during an early Sharks power play, as well as a great stretch save on Torrey Mitchell late in the second. He was there early, he was there all night, just as he has been all series for Anaheim…Besides the Thornton-Getzlaf bout, Ryan Whitney and Joe Pavelski slugged it out at the end of the second after Boyle leveled Perry in the corner. The bigger Whitney eventually settled down Pavelski, who landed a few shots early.

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THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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