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Four Unanswered Goals Sink Sharks, 6-3

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

Edmonton and San Jose met in Game 5 of the 2006 Playoffs presented by Intersil Friday night at Rexall Place. Four unanswered goals by Edmonton gave the Oilers a 6-3 victory and a 2-2 tie in the Western Conference Semifinals.

 Milan Michalek missed his second consecutive game due to a late hit from Raffi Torres in Game 3 and Alyn McCauley was forced to miss the game as well.

In their place, Ryane Clowe stepped into the playoff fire for his first game of the 2006 postseason.

Both sides posted early scoring chances as Vesa Toskala and Dwayne Roloson were tested early. It was San Jose would strike first less than four minutes into the game. Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo skated in on a two-on-two with Nils Ekman trailing. Thornton left it for the trailing Swede and then he and Cheechoo both attacked the net. Ekman eluded his defender, creating a three-on-one in front of the net where he simply fed Thornton who pumped in his second of the series.

Before the game was seven minutes old, San Jose expanded the lead to two. Taking a feed deep and to the left of Roloson, Patrick Marleau cleanly won the draw and pushed it directly to Ekman who was already moving toward the net. He quickly put it on his stick and wristed it inside the left post. San Jose had two shots on the game and two goals.

Edmonton was doing their best to create havoc in front of Toskala and has tripped him once and bumped into him another time while avoiding a whistle.

Edmonton would strike for the first time with 7:05 left in the first when Shawn Horcoff posted his second goal in as many games. Jason Smith wound up for an uncontested point shot and as the puck passed through the slot, Horcoff was there for the redirection.

Edmonton kept the pressure up as Toskala was forced to make a difficult save and then a Steve Staios blast from the blueline rattled off both post before bouncing safely to the boards.

When Edmonton took to their first power play, Toskala came up with a brilliant stop to preserve the lead. A Jaroslav Spacek shot rebounded to Edmonton hero Ryan Smyth. The man who set up the Game 3 game-winner had to stabs in close on Toskala, but the Finnish netminder did an outstanding job of hugging the post with his pad and keeping the puck out.

The period ended with Edmonton posting 15 first period shots as they did in Game 3, but this time it was the Sharks with a 2-1 advantage.

A Torres delay of game penalty put San Jose up a man early in the second, but the Sharks couldn’t get the power play set up and the Edmonton penalty killers prevailed.

Edmonton avoided a dangerous situation when Thornton fed Cheechoo driving down the middle of the ice. The NHL’s leading scorer faked the shot and forced Roloson to the ice. There wasn’t quite enough room to find the net, but Cheechoo looked for the bank shot and it caromed off two Oilers blueliners and just missed crossing the line. Edmonton turned the rush the other for a three-on-two situation, but Toskala and some strong backchecking kept the score 2-1.

Cheechoo entered the game as one of the NHL’s leaders in shots and on his next effort, he made good. Thornton carried the puck into the zone and waited for help to arrive. It did in the form of Cheechoo and as Thornton peeled around the net, he fed the Moose Factory, Ontario near the bottom of the faceoff circle. Cheechoo unloaded the puck and it snuck through the five-hole. It marked the first time in the series the Sharks had reached the three goal plateau after posting two tallies in the opening three contests.

On an ensuing Oilers power play, the Sharks had the best scoring chance as Thornton rang one off the post and then in a scramble for the rebound, Team Teal just missed on tapping the loose change into an empty net.

Edmonton kept pressuring when five-on-five play returned and they pulled within one again. Toskala made an initial stop and kicked the puck to the end boards. Michael Peca beat everyone to the rebound and banked the shot in off Toskala before he could get back to the near post.

Following an unsuccessful Sharks power play, Edmonton tied the contest on an extremely unusual play. With the puck heading deep into the San Jose zone and Sergei Samsonov the first man heading in, Toskala decided to race out and play the puck. The Sharks netminder won the race, but Samsonov tipped the play and it bounced behind Toskala. The Oiler winger simple gained his balance and guided the puck into the empty net.

The two second period Oiler goals had allowed them to tie the score at two after forty minutes.

San Jose came out blazing to begin the third as Thornton set up both Cheechoo and Carle for excellent chances in the period’s first minute. Not to be outdone, Toskala stopped a driving redirect from Peca one minute later. However, just three minutes into the period, Edmonton took their first lead of the night. Jason Smith dipped in from the blueline and received a pass alone in the slot. He shifted to his backhand and just beat Toskala inside the far post.

The momentum kept rolling for the Oilers as they struck again for a 5-3 lead, making it four unanswered goals. Ryan Smyth entered the zone, and fed Ales Hemsky streaking toward the net. His redirect beat Toskala to the far post and sent Rexall Place into a frenzy.

Ron Wilson took the opportunity to insert Evgeni Nabokov into the contest as San Jose looked for a way to rally from two goals down.

With just over seven minutes left in the third frame Rissmiller was sent to the box for hooking. Just 38 seconds into the advantage, Ville Nieminen was penalized for roughing, giving Edmonton 1:22 of five-on-three time.

It took less than 20 seconds for Jarret Stoll to notch Edmonton’s sixth goal of the night when he fired a slapshot that tricked Nabokov. The Oilers now led 6-3 with just under six minutes left.

With 2:13 left in the final frame, Nabokov left the net in favor of an extra attacker. Shortly after Ethan Moreau was sent to the box for holding, giving the Sharks the power play. The Sharks couldn’t capitalize, however, as the Oilers returned to even strength.

San Jose couldn’t light the lamp in the final minute of the game, giving Edmonton the 6-3 victory.

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