When it was time to answer the bell Saturday night that is exactly what Mark Bell did, sparking the San Jose to a 4-3 victory against NHL leading Anaheim.
San Jose had not played poorly, but found themselves trailing 2-0 in the second period. Then Bell found himself on the ice with Ducks enforcer Shane O’Brien. A fight ensued with the crowd roaring their approval and San Jose responding with a goal a minute and a half later.
“We were down 2-0 and I wanted to provide a big hit and put the crowd back in it,” said Bell. “He (O’Brien) was out and there and I was out there, so why not.”
Bell’s teammates appreciated the effort.
“Just to have him go out and step up is big,” said Patrick Marleau
. “He probably shouldn’t have to, but he did a great job of getting everybody going.”
Mike Grier probably summed it up in a very political way.
“Bell did a good job of making sure our intensity was where it should be,” said Grier.
Some of the Sharks best scoring chances on the night came while down a man. They didn’t add any goals on the opportunities, but forced penalties on a couple of breakaways that prematurely ended the shorthanded situations.
“Brown and Grier gave us a couple of chances,” said Marleau.
“The penalty kill got us a couple of power plays tonight,” said Wilson. “We had three breakaways shorthanded.”
Anaheim did score twice on the man-advantage, but one of those came while it was four against three on the ice.
“With a four-on-three, there is not much you can do,” said Wilson. “Both teams have great power plays.”
And it should be noted that San Jose’s power play scored twice itself, including the game-winner with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
“I wasn’t sure we were going to get another power play,” said Wilson.
Thornton scored the game-winner when he knocked it off Scott Niedermayer.
“I’m trying to shoot more on the half boards,” said Thornton.
While he did not receive credit for a helper, Cheechoo was creating the havoc out front. It was in the same manner that Cheechoo scored San Jose’s third goal.
“I knew Joe would either pass (to me) or shoot,” said Cheechoo. “Giguere backed into the net. I was just trying to create havoc in front.”
Cheechoo now has six points in his last six games. Joe Pavelski
now has five points in his last five games. And Thornton’s two points helped run his point streak to six.
NABBY IN NET
With his turn in the pipes for San Jose, Evgeni Nabokov kept the Sharks in the game until the offense got going.
“We didn’t give up and played with a lot of energy,” said Nabokov. “We made a couple of mistakes early but it’s about how you respond. You could see the fire in the guys’ eyes. If you’re down 2-0 and you give up, you’re not a good club. You have to fight and find a way.”
Annual Lady Byng candidate Marleau was called for hooking on the power play that allowed Anaheim to take a 3-2 lead.
“Whenever a penalty is called, you don’t think the penalty should have been called,” laughed Marleau. “They called it tight all night.”
In a game featuring the West’s top two clubs, it took a complete effort for the Sharks to prevail.
“It took all 20 guys,” said Joe Thornton
. “It was a fun game to be a part of. It was a playoff atmosphere.”
“Both teams were going hard and skating well,” said Cheechoo. “It was a packed house tonight and when they’re behind us it is always big. You get them going and you notice it.”
IN FRONT WITH 15
Marleau’s goal was his team leading 15th on the season.
Mark Smith, in his first game back from the injured reserve list, scored a power play goal.
The Sharks will not return to action until next Thursday when they host Dallas in another Pacific Division showdown at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion. A limited number of tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.