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Sharks 6, Mighty Ducks 4 @NHLdotcom

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The San Jose Sharks know their quest for a playoff spot won't be easy. As long as Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton keep up their strong play, they'll have a chance.

Cheechoo scored three goals for his second hat trick this season against Anaheim and Thornton had three assists, leading the Sharks to a 6-4 victory over the Mighty Ducks on Wednesday night.

"It's a pretty big win for us," Cheechoo said. "Every win now is big for us. We're trying to climb back into the playoff race, so these games against teams that are above us are huge for us."

Tom Preissing got the go-ahead goal on a power play with 7:04 remaining and Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves, helping end Anaheim's three-game winning streak and the Sharks' three-game skid. Mark Smith scored one of San Jose's three power-play goals and Nils Ekman scored into an empty net with 1 second left.

Cheechoo, who increased his goal total to 31, has 15 goals and 10 assists in his last 16 games. He has 24 goals in 26 games since Thornton was inserted into the Sharks' lineup on Dec. 2. Thornton has an assist on 15 of them after being acquired Nov. 30 from Boston in a trade that sent Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau to the Bruins.

"My linemates have been finding me and putting me in the right spots, and the puck's been going in for me," Cheechoo said. "There were a lot of penalties tonight, so there were a lot of scoring chances for special teams and both teams took advantage of it."

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne extended his point-scoring streak to 13 games with his 25th goal. The nine-time All-Star has seven goals and 14 assists during his streak.

Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz and Dustin Penner also scored for Anaheim. Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves, and was awarded his first two NHL points with assists on Anaheim's first two goals.

Bryzgalov became the second goalie this season to get two assists, along with Dallas' Johan Hedberg on Dec. 26 at St. Louis. The NHL record for assists by a goalie in one game is three, set by Calgary's Jeff Reese in 1993.

In the teams' last meeting, on Jan. 26 at San Jose, Bryzgalov handed the Sharks their first shutout loss of the season and recorded his first shutout in the NHL.

"The last time we played them we came out a little bit flat and they played a really good, solid road game. So it's nice to come in here and to the same thing to them," Cheechoo said. "I think we matched them a little bit better physically than we did at home, and we matched their intensity for the whole game."

Preissing put the Sharks ahead to stay with his sixth goal, beating Bryzgalov low to the stick side with a one-timer from 45 feet while Joffrey Lupul was serving a holding penalty.

"We took some inopportune penalties at critical points," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We gave them too many opportunities and too many quality chances."

Cheechoo completed his hat trick less than 4 minutes later with a slap shot from the top of the right circle.

The Sharks' right wing, whose other hat trick against the Ducks came in San Jose, became the fourth visiting player this season to get one at the Pond. The others were Dallas' Jason Arnott, Carolina's Kevyn Adams and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin.

The Sharks took their first lead, 3-2, when Smith scored on a power-play one-timer from 50 feet at 2:32 of the third. Kunitz tied it 21 seconds later, banging home a rebound for his 13th goal.

McDonald put Anaheim ahead 2-1 just 31 seconds into the second period on a power play, stuffing a rebound under a prone Nabokov for his 16th goal. But the Sharks tied it about 2 minutes later with a power-play goal of their own while Vitaly Vishnevski was off for tripping.

Cheechoo scored on a one-timer from a sharp angle to the left of the net after Niko Dimitrakos set him up with a pass from the high slot. It was Cheechoo's 15th power-play goal, three shy of the club record set by Owen Nolan in 1999-00.

Notes: Thornton has 245 points since the start of the 2002-03 season, more than any player in the league. ... Scott Niedermayer's two assists gave him 24 points in his last 24 games. ... Selanne has 39 goals in 50 career games against San Jose.

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