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Defense Dominates In 2-1 Victory

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Offense makes the highlights, but defense wins championships and the Sharks put on a clinic Game 1 of Round 2 in the 2006 Playoffs presented by Intersil.

San Jose limited the Oilers to just 16 shots for the game, allowed no even strength goals and played the Oilers to a draw in the faceoff circle. Plus, San Jose out hit Edmonton 44-25 on the night.

“We established the forecheck and made life difficult for their defensemen,” said Ron Wilson. “The crowd responded to every hit and it became contagious. Physically we established a tone and kept going.”

In fact, San Jose held the Edmonton to just two second period shots and limited them to just five shots in the third as the guests were attempting a rally.

“It can be hard when you don’t see many shots, but they did have one shot that hit the post,” said Vesa Toskala.

Part of Edmonton’s problems came from the fact that there defense was challenged all night.

“Our forwards did a great job of cycling down low and bumping into their defensemen every time they had the puck,” said Christian Ehrhoff.

Marleau says it was a concentrated effort to keep the ice tilted toward Roloson.

“We tried to keep it out of our end by getting the puck out quickly,” said Marleau. “Vesa has been huge for us.”

Toskala’s teammates know how rock solid he was in the pipes.

“What can you say about him?” questioned Tom Preissing. “He has been our stabilizer in the playoffs and when he is going strong, he is tough to beat.”

“We played good defense today and when he was challenged, Vesa was there,” said Ehrhoff.

The two teams will tangle again quickly as they will play again tomorrow at HP Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. (OLN, 98.5 KFOX, The Sharks know that they will see a better effort from the Oilers.

“It is going to be a long series,” said Ehrhoff.

“I know Edmonton will add a new wrinkle tomorrow night,” said Wilson. “We saw in their last series, Edmonton is not going to give up.”

The Sharks have performed strongly in the back-to-back situations, sweeping all three similar situations late in the season.

“We won’t worry about two games in two nights,” said Ehrhoff. “We played well in back-to-backs this season.”

The Sharks bench boss knows what he would like to see more of in Game 2.

“I’d like to see our power play work a little bit harder,” said Wilson. “Other than that I’m really pleased with the effort.”

The Sharks finished the night zero for five on the power play.

With San Jose trailing by one early in the first, Team Teal turned their eyes to Marleau and he once again responded. The Captain took a perfect feed from Steve Bernier and tied the score at one just eight minutes into the contest.

Marleau recorded his 27th career playoff goal in the process and re-took the NHL playoff goal-scoring lead with his 8th goal. He has extended his playoff goal-scoring streak to five games (8+2=10).

“He’s playing great,” said Michalek who tallied two assists and registered his first career multi-point playoff game. “The more pressure, the better he is playing.”

Early in the second, Marleau set up goal number two for San Jose. First he fed Michalek in the slot for a couple of attempts, but the rebound went to the Oilers along the boards. Marleau used his speed to get there and his 220 pounds to take back possession. He then found Ehrhoff dropping down a bit from the blueline and the playoff rookie banged home his first postseason tally.

“It was a good pass from Patty,” said Ehrhoff. “I got a lot of it. He is playing great and so is his entire line. It is a credit to him that he is finding the room and shooting so well.”

Ehrhoff, along with Tom Preissing, is tied for second in the Sharks playoff scoring race behind Marleau.

The end was not a guarantee until the final whistle as the Oilers pulled Roloson to try and force overtime.

“We iced the puck unnecessarily late in the game, but I was happy with our effort,” said Wilson.

The next Coolest Game Watching Party will be at Stanley’s inside Logitech Ice for Game 4 on Friday, May 12th at 5:00 p.m.

Fans attending the live telecast will be treated to a scaled down version of a Sharks home game, complete with in-game entertainment, including the Pepsi Tank Patrol, raffles and trivia contests for cool Sharks prizes. There will also be Sharks Bingo and the Sharks loveable mascot S.J. Sharkie. All festivities will be hosted by Sharks in-game host Danny Miller.

The Sharks used a strong second period to win the game, a pattern that has carried over from the Nashville series.

“Two years ago we had great first periods, this year great second periods,” said Wilson. “Maybe next year we’ll have great third periods, I don’t really have an answer for that. Adjustments might be part of it. I think tonight it was evident we hadn’t played in a week. Those first 10 minutes we had trouble getting going and we didn’t really get the puck in deep and play our game. We don’t play anything like Detroit. We’re a puck-possession team but in a different way. We are willing to give it up and then attempt to get it back and using our speed up front. The end of the first and then the second period we played our game pretty well.”

“I thought going in it was going to be a series that was going to be a lot more physical than the Detroit series and I don’t know if it was tough for our team to change our mentality in the game here. I thought we started very well. I thought we got almost a perfect start.”

“We came out, we scored on the power play, we were getting the puck in deep, and we were certainly negating the home-ice advantage early, which seemingly is at its greatest early on in the hockey game. So I was really happy with our start and then the second period, they took it to us physically and we turned the puck over a little bit.”

“We’re going to have to battle harder to the end in Game 2.”

Behind a shutout performance from netminder Craig Anderson, the U.S. Men’s National Team earned a 3-0 victory over Denmark at Arena Skonto in the 70th annual International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. Team USA improved to 2-0 in the event.

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