SHARKS' THORNTON, CHEECHOO WIN OFFENSIVE POTW HONORS;
FLAMES' KIPRUSOFF EDGES COYOTES' JOSEPH FOR TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
NEW YORK/TORONTO (April 17, 2006) -- San Jose center Joe Thornton (one goal, 11 assists) and right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (seven goals, four assists), who figured in 16 of 19 Sharks goals in four victories, have been named co-winners of the NHL's Offensive Player of the Week award for the period ending Sunday, April 16. Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who posted a 2-0-1 record, a 0.32 goals-against average, .988 save percentage and two shutouts, is the League's Defensive Player of the Week.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Mats Sundin (6-3--9 in four games) and Florida Panthers center Joe Nieuwendyk (4-3--7 in three games) were runners-up for offensive honors, while goaltenders Curtis Joseph of the Phoenix Coyotes (2-0-0, two shutouts), Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres (3-0-0, 1.00 GAA, one shutout) and Chris Mason of the Nashville Predators (3-0-0, 1.01 GAA, one shutout) were runners-up for the defensive award.
Thornton had four multiple-assist games, beginning with two in a 3-2 victory in Phoenix April 10. In consecutive games against Vancouver, Thornton tallied four assists in a 5-4 overtime road victory April 12 and three assists in a 5-3 win in San Jose the following night. He finished the week with a goal and two assists in a 6-3 victory over Anaheim April 15. Thornton leads all NHL scorers with 125 points (29-96--125).
Cheechoo recorded three multiple-goal games, vaulting him into the NHL goal-scoring lead with 56. He tallied two goals and one assist in a 3-2 victory over Phoenix April 10, added two goals and one assist against Vancouver April 13 and notched three goals and two assists in a 6-3 victory over Anaheim April 15. Cheechoo ranks 10th in League scoring with 93 points (56-37--93).
The Sharks have clinched the fifth seed in the Western Conference with 99 points (44-26-11) and will open the playoffs in Nashville against the Predators later this week. Kiprusoff, who captured Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time this season, made 32 saves in a 3-0 victory over Anaheim April 11, 23 saves in a 2-0 victory over Colorado April 13 and stopped 25 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss at Los Angeles April 15.
Kiprusoff improved to 42-20-11 in 74 games. He leads NHL goaltenders in shutouts (10) and goals-against average (2.07), is tied for first in victories and ranks fourth in save percentage (.923).
Calgary has clinched the Northwest Division with 103 points(46-24-11) and will open the playoffs at home against either Anaheim or Colorado.