With one more contest prior to the Olympic break, the Sharks seem to have found their game, winning their last two, including 6-3 route of the Dallas Stars Friday night before a packed HP Pavilion.
Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek led the way with two tallies each and Joe Thornton
added a three-point night along with a four-assist night by Patrick Marleau
Michalek scored the game-winning tally and added the empty-netter, but the most important goal came courtesy of a strong defensive play by Marleau. With Dallas attempting to exit the zone, Marleau was gathering speed in the neutral zone and picked off a pass inside the blueline. When the defense came to him, he chipped it forward to Michalek.
“I don’t think they saw me,” said Marleau. “I just jumped in.”
“I saw him when he got the puck and I just turned back to toward the net,” said Michalek who hadn’t left the zone.
Michalek wishes the games would keep right on coming.
“It’s too bad the break is coming,” said Michalek. “I’m feeling really good.”
Michalek’s parents have been in town during his recent surge, but they are returning to Czech tomorrow instead of catching one more game with their sons in Phoenix.
“We didn’t really think about it, but they have to get back because they’re missing work,” said Michalek. “Today was their last game, so I’m really happy to score.”
Michalek will now face his brother again and the Coyotes haven’t fallen to San Jose in four contests.
“We lost all four to them so we have to win,” said Michalek. “He’s been making fun of me.”
Cheechoo’s first goal was one that surprised even the goal scorer. On the play, Cheechoo was spun around in the slot with his back to Marty Turco. Joe Thornton
threw the puck to the slot and it bounced off Cheechoo’s skate and in. Every fan in the building began celebrating, as did all the Sharks on the ice – except Cheechoo.
“I knew it hit my foot, but I was looking in my skates for it,” said Cheechoo. “Everyone started celebrating, so I figured it went in. It was the first goal off my skate in a long time. It’s nice to get one of those once in a while.”
Cheechoo scored a more conventional power play goal to begin the second period. Team Teal scored with seven seconds remaining in the advantage and the puck did not leave the zone the entire time.
“I was so open and they were so tired,” said Cheechoo. “Joe (Thornton) made a nice pass and I had about five seconds to shoot.”
“That was a big power play,” said Marleau. “Ekman, Joe and Cheechoo did a good job getting the loose pucks. When you get the loose pucks and keep the puck in, something has to give.”
San Jose’s fifth goal was a bit of a lucky break as well, this one on a shot by Alyn McCauley, but nobody was giving the tally back either. On this one, Turco made the glove save, but could not hold onto the puck. It bounced into the stick of Mike Modano and into the net.
“I just saw Stevenson in front and he looked happy so I figured out the result,” said McCauley.
San Jose got five goals from its two big lines, but they will need tallies from the other two lines to continue their strong play.
“We need contributions from the entire team and we’ve been talking about it,” said McCauley.
San Jose got back to the basics by delivering the puck deep and working hard on the forecheck, but there was another advantage to the play.
“We’ve talked all year long about getting the puck deep and not getting the D stuck out there,” said McCauley.
“Everyone was getting the puck deep and keeping it away from Turco,” said Cheechoo.
San Jose has one contest left prior to the Olympic break and they will attempt to run their winning streak to three games.
“We have one more game left,” said Marleau. “We are feeling good, but it is a big game Sunday.”
Dallas put up the game’s first goal, only to see the Sharks retaliate with five consecutive tallies.
“I thought we outplayed them, even in the first when they scored,” said Cheechoo. “We had an edge and battled back after their goal.”
“We worked hard from the get-go and I didn’t see our team flinch,” said Wilson. “Our young D played really well and we need that through the lineup. On the penalty kill, we have the guys we want now.”
San Jose stifled Dallas on all five man advantages.
Vesa Toskala was his second consecutive start.
“Toskala has been impressive,” said Wilson. “He settled everyone down.”
“We bounced back right away after the first goal,” said Toskala. “I feel really confident. Tonight was tough mentally. I didn’t face many pucks the first half of the game, then I had a couple of good saves. They are so good on the power play at getting traffic in front and it’s hard to find pucks. They put big guys out front.”
STREAKING Joe Thornton
and Christian Ehrhoff extended their point streaks to three games.
Ron Wilson not only coached in his 900th career game, he won his 400th game, moving his career mark to 400-371-101 (ties)-22(overtime losses)-6 (shootout losses).
Only three active coaches have more wins that the Sharks bench boss. They include: Pat Quinn (TOR), Bryan Murray (OTT), and Jaques Martin (FLA).
The Sharks will travel to Phoenix for a Sunday contest with the Coyotes that will be on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjharks.com at 5 p.m.