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Cheechoo, Thornton, Michalek Shine in 4-3 Win; 500th NHL Victory for Wilson

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Jonathan Cheechoo netted his first hat trick of the season and added an assist while his linemates Joe Thornton (three assists) and Milan Michalek (one goal, two assists) each skated to three-point nights as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

Head Coach Ron Wilson also achieved a milestone on Saturday night, becoming just the 11th coach in NHL history to eclipse the 500-win plateau.

San Jose Sharks right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (14) scores his third goal, on Nashville Predators' goaltender Chris Mason (30) as Nashville Predators defenseman Greg Zanon (5), looks on in the third period of their NHL Hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Feb., 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)
San Jose and Nashville, playoff opponents two years running, renewed their regular season battle Saturday night at HP Pavilion. Evgeni Nabokov and Chris Mason were the men in the creases and Steve Bernier replaced Marcel Goc in the lineup.

Team Teal took the early lead when Jonathan Cheechoo tapped in a Joe Thornton pass 4:48 into the game, but just more than two minutes later Nashville tied it when Vernon Fidler beat Nabokov with a slapshot from the left side.

The two clubs each posted six shots in the opening stanza and finished knotted at one.

Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau did not come out for the second period due to a groin injury and his return was questionable.

San Jose started the middle session with almost 1:30 of power play time, but could not connect on their third man-advantage of the game.

Five minutes into the second, Jody Shelley recorded his first fight as a Sharks player when he exchanged blows with Darcy Hordichuk before the two fell to the ice.

Nabokov faced a breakaway by J.P. Dumont early in the second, but the shot rang off the post. A penalty was called on Kyle McLaren during the play and Nashville took to the power play, their fifth of the night. This time they would connect and again it was Fiddler, hammering it home from inside the right faceoff dot. The tally provided Nashville with a 2-1 margin, their first lead of the night.

San Jose would tie the game and in a game of scoring patterns, Cheechoo and Thornton would play a role in things. For this tally, Thornton fed Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the point. Vlasic’s shot was tipped by Cheechoo out front and the score was tied at two.

The energy continued on the shift for Thornton’s line as Michalek nearly finished off a highlight worthy dipsy-do move and Cheechoo made a teeth-shattering hit in the corner.

San Jose was outshooting Nashville 9-1 in the period with 3:36 left when Alexander Radulov was sent to the penalty box. Team Teal did not covert on the later power play and the game went to the second break tied at two.

Nashville Predators goalie Chris Mason reacts after giving up a game winning goal to the San Jose Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo, in the third period of their NHL Hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Feb., 9, 2008. Sharks won 4-3. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)
Six minutes into the third, Dan Hamhuis and Thornton were given matching minors, opening up the ice for the speed skaters, and it was the Sharks fastest player on the ice who pushed San Jose to a 3-2 lead.

After a glove save by Nabokov on Marek Zidlicky, Michalek scored on his opportunity on the other end. Cheechoo provided the pass that sent Michalek in behind the defense. The fleet-footed Czech was hacked from behind once and then completely hauled down, but he managed to still put his shot past Mason.

With 8:19 to go in the third, Nashville tied the game once again. This time Fiddler fed Scott Nichol to Nabokov’s left and the wrister was perfectly sent to the top of the net, evening things at three.

Incredible work by Rissmiller, Mitchell and Grier created chaos around Mason with 5:36 left and forced Radek Bonk to take a hooking penalty. It didn’t take long for Cheechoo to connect for the hat trick, providing Team Teal a 4-3 lead.

The play began with Thornton sending a pass toward the net as Michalek and Cheechoo were crashing the crease. As the puck moved to the far side, Cheechoo spun off his man and when he was once again facing the crease, he spun his stick into the puck and knocked it across the line.

It was a scary moment for Sharks fans when with less than a minute remaining, Hamhuis' stick struck Thornton in the face knocking the former League MVP to the ice. While there wasn't a penalty called on that play, Radulov was hit with a two-minute slashing minor, putting the Sharks on the power play for the remainder of the game.

The Sharks closed out the game on the power play, preserving the 4-3 win over the rival Predators on Saturday night.






San Jose will host Calgary in a 7:30 p.m. contests Tuesday night at HP Pavilion. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and Tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at

From the AP Wire

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Getting healthy gave Jonathan Cheechoo a chance to get back his rhythm. And then some.

Cheechoo scored three goals, including the game-winner with 4:55 left, to help the San Jose Sharks win their third straight over Nashville, beating the Predators 4-3 on Saturday night.

Cheechoo, who combined for 93 goals the previous two years, returned from a groin injury in late December, and had just four in his first 28 games. He now has 10 in his last 17 games.

"I've been feeling good since about Christmas time," Cheechoo said. "I've been working hard, and the puck has just been bouncing my way. The game winner was the memorable one. You want to help your team out like that, so when you get to do that, it makes it more special."

Milan Michalek also scored for the Sharks, who won for the sixth time in eight games. Joe Thornton had three assists and needs one more for 500 for his career.

San Jose Sharks right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (14) is congratulated by teammate, San Jose Sharks left wing Milan Michalek (9), after Cheechoo scored a hat trick for the game winning goal in the third period of their NHL Hockey game against the Nashville Predators in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Feb., 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)

"I'm really happy for Cheech that he scored a hat trick," Michalek said. "Our line didn't play well last game, so I'm happy we stepped it up and scored a few goals."

San Jose coach Ron Wilson earned his 500th career victory, moving into a tie with Toe Blake for 10th place on the all-time list - one behind Pat Burns. Now he's headed to Disneyland.

"I'm going to fly down and take my grand daughter to celebrate 500," Wilson said. "She walks now so to watch her run around and have fun will be nice. If we lost I would not have gone because I would have been sulking all day."

Vernon Fiddler scored twice for the Predators, who failed to get a point for just the fourth time in 19 games. Scott Nichol also scored for Nashville, which has won in San Jose once in the past four years.

"We haven't had great success here for a while," Predators' coach Barry Trotz said. "When we got it to 3-3, I thought we had pretty good momentum. When you score three points you have to get a point."

Cheechoo recorded his ninth career hat trick on the power play after taking a tip from Michalek in front of Nashville's net and firing it in on his backhand. Thornton threw the puck toward the crease, setting up Michalek's deflection.

"That was a heck of a play on their part," Mason said. "Thornton made a nice pass and Michalek made that touch pass to Cheechoo, who spun off and got the puck in. We kind of broke down in the last half of the third period."

Nashville goalie Chris Mason is winless in seven games against the Sharks.

Michalek gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead at 7:17 of the third period. However, the Predators tied it again when Fiddler dug the puck out of the corner and made a perfect pass to Nichol, who scored with a hard wrist shot with 8:19 left.

"We have top find more ways to get to the net," Fiddler said. "We had enough goals; we just made a couple of mistakes."

Cheechoo opened the scoring at 4:48 of the first period after taking a pass from Thornton.

"It's a special milestone for coach to reach 500," Cheechoo said. "It's pretty amazing and it's nice to be a part of that."

Fiddler tied it at 7:00 as he held the puck under pressure behind the net and then skated out and squeezed it past Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

Fiddler gave Nashville a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 7:12 of the second period.

Cheechoo tied it for San Jose a little more than 6 minutes later.

Notes: Thornton has 20 points in his last 14 games. ... Fiddler recorded his second multigoal game of the season and has three goals in his last 31 games. ... The Sharks outshot Nashville 12-3 in the second period. ... The Sharks have two games remaining on their season-high six-game homestand. ... Sharks C Patrick Marleau left the game with a groin injury. ... Predators RW Alexander Radulov had his career-high eight-game point streak snapped.

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