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Cheechoo's Hat Trick Propels Sharks To Victory

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

San Jose used a hat trick by Jonathan Cheechoo to topple the Anaheim Ducks 6-4 in an important Pacific Division contest that saw the Sharks take two valuable points in the playoff race.



Anaheim sent Ilya Bryzgalov out against Evgeni Nabokov in the Pacific Division battle.

A Sharks turnover in the opening minutes put Corey Perry just outside the crease. Nabokov played it perfect positionally and gobbled up the shot.

Back-to-back Ducks penalties for goaltender interference and hooking provided San Jose with 1:47 of power play time. Team Teal controlled the zone, but could not find the back of the net.

Moments later, former Shark Teemu Selanne carried the puck behind Nabokov and while coming out the opposite side, was hooked by Mark Smith and the Ducks took their first shot on the advantage. Nabokov made the required stops and killed off the penalty.

On the other end of the ice, Milan Michalek put an unbelievable move on Keith Carney in the high slot to get up, but his hard shot could not get by Bryzgalov.

Fifteen seconds into a Jonathan Cheechoo penalty Anaheim struck. Selanne used a quick deke to get by a Sharks forward and then was alone with Nabokov. He unleashed a bomb that clanged off the post and in for the 1-0 lead.

With the first period winding down, Cheechoo took a beautiful feed from Joe Thornton across the crease and banged home the one-timer to even the contest.

Anaheim looked to take the lead back moments later when Selanne was sprung on a breakaway, but Nabokov won the battle with a poke check, keeping the game even.

Patrick Marleau took his crack at giving San Jose their first lead when Niko Dimitrakos feed him to the side of the net, but Bryzgalov made the stop. Just as soon as that stop was made, San Jose had another shot waived off. A Cheechoo shot was redirected by Nils Ekman to the back of the net. The ruling on the ice was no goal and while the video replay showed the tally could have counted, the original ruling stood.

Anaheim would close out the period on the power play after a highsticking call against Joe Thornton. San Jose would hold them at bay and the penalty would carry into the second period.

Thirty seconds into the middle stanza, Nabokov made a strong initial save on an Andy McDonald shot in close, but with the San Jose netminder down, and a crowd around the crease, McDonald found the loose puck on top of the crease and knocked in the power play tally.

San Jose would have a chance to tie the contest on a tripping call to Vitaly Vishnevski against Michalek and that is exactly what they did. Sitting to the right of Bryzgalov as he was on his first tally, Cheechoo took a nice feed from Dimitrakos and blasted in the one-timer to tie the contest.

It seemed that Anaheim was on the power play for most of the second period as with five minutes to go in the second period, the Ducks had recorded six power plays, but thanks to Nabokov, the game remained tied at two.

The usually minimally penalized Sharks were actually whistled for a seventh penalty and the Ducks did hit a post, but again Nabokov did his job. With 1:11 to go, San Jose would get the late advantage, but with San Jose working the puck down low, Tom Preissing was given a phantom call when Vishnevsky fell down while trailing the Sharks defender and the power play was over as quick as it had started.

The four-on-four time that began the period quickly turned into more than a minute of five-on-three time for Team Teal thanks to back-to-back penalties to the Ducks. The first penalty expired without a problem for Anaheim, but before Rob Niedermayer could make a difference, Scott Hannan unleashed a bomb from the point that went off the stick of Todd Marchant and then Mark Smith to give San Jose their first lead.

Seconds later, Anaheim would respond thanks to a difficult turnover. A Nabokov pass was intercepted and the resulting Ducks shot went off Hannan at the side of the net, tying the game again.

San Jose looked to respond right away. First Ekman strode into the Anaheim zone and let a shot go, and then Joe Thornton had a good opportunity. That was followed by a boarding penalty to Scott Niedermayer against Cheechoo, putting San Jose up a man. Despite several strong chances, Bryzgalov stopped every effort.

When play returned to even strength, a blind pass by Joe Thornton set up Ekman in the slot, but Bryzgalov was there again with a save.

It was the special teams play of San Jose that would give them their second lead of the night. This time Joe Thornton set up in his usual spot on the wing before sending a smooth pass to Preissing near the top of the far faceoff circle. His one-timer was in the net before the Ducks netminder could slide across, making the score 4-3 with less than seven minutes remaining.

With just more than three minutes remaining, Cheechoo struck again. Skating down the right wing, he unleashed a cannon toward the net that snuck in short side, giving San Jose a bit of breathing room.

A tripping penalty to Josh Gorges gave a glimmer of hope to Anaheim who pulled their netminder for a six-on-four advantage. Cheechoo almost scored, but his attempt at a fourth tally was affected by two Ducks pulling at him.

San Jose killed off the penalty, but Anaheim made it close by scoring with 26 seconds left. They could not get the tying tally and Nils Ekman added an empty-netter to close out the 6-4 contest.

3 FOR HIS BEST
Cheechoo’s’ first goal gave him 29 for a new career best. Then his second gave him his first 30-goal campaign. The third marked his second hat trick of the season against Anaheim and his third three-goal game.

2 PP HELPERS
Bryzgalov assisted on both of the Ducks first goal goals, which came on the power play.

NEXT GAME
San Jose will host the Minnesota Wild Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion with tickets still available at the HP Pavilion Box Office or www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be carried on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.

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