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Joe Thornton Wins The Game In OT 3-2

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

San Jose needed almost 65 minutes to get the job done, but they accomplished their goal Monday night in Dallas, taking a 3-2 overtime victory and adding two points to their total in the race for the playoffs. Joe Thornton provided the game-winner in overtime and Toskala out dueled Marty Turco in the nets.

The game was quiet offensively early in the first. Toskala did have one perimeter shot attempt to bounce over his shoulder, but he handled it and maintained the zeros on the scoreboard.

Halfway through the opening period, Joe Thornton was called for tripping and seconds into the power play Dallas took the 1-0 lead. A Sergei Zubov point shot fluttered toward the net, but Jere Lehtinen, parked at the side of the crease, deflected the puck past Toskala.

Marleau’s line looked to respond on the following shift. They forced a turnover in the Dallas zone and after Michalek’s initial shot was stopped, Marleau almost pumped in the rebound. That puck lay loose in the slot, but Dallas was able to finally clear the play.

Toskala turned away Dallas’ best extended attack three-quarters into the first period and on the other end, Steve Bernier skated in on a one-on-one rush, but the puck was tipped away before he could complete his 360 degree move and get a shot off.

Toward the period’s conclusion, Matt Carle picked off a Stars clearing attempt and put a shot on net. That was followed by offensive efforts from Scott Hannan and Bernier, but Turco kept the Sharks off the board in the first, despite Team Teal outshooting his club 12-6.

San Jose’s opening shift of the second showed the promise Team Teal displayed late in the first. Christian Ehrhoff started the period’s first scoring chance, but when the puck neared Turco, he made the save.

Josh Gorges was called for tripping on the other end of the ice and the Stars looked to convert on a second consecutive power play. Dallas worked the puck on the perimeter for much of the advantage, but never really threatened Toskala.

Five minutes into the second, Bernier intercepted a Dallas play in their defensive zone and skated in on Turco. The Sharks rookie winger forced a Stars penalty and gave the Sharks their own opportunity. Just seconds into their advantage, the Sharks tied the game. An initial shot was stopped, but as the puck popped high in the air, Marleau waited for the puck to come down low enough so he wouldn’t be called for a high stick and knocked it in from mid-air.

One minute later, the Sharks returned to the power play, but this time they did not convert and the game remained even.

Midway through the contest, Mark Smith and Ville Nieminen helped put on a forechecking clinic and kept play around Turco for more than 30 seconds. They could not find the back of the net, but they showed the type of game the Shark would need to continue as they pursued two points.

With five minutes remaining in the second, the Sharks were outshooting Dallas 21-9, but things were even on the scoreboard. Nils Ekman attempted to change that when he accepted a Gorges feed after crossing the blueline, but as he closed in on the net, his shot was stopped.

San Jose was forced to kill off a two minute whistle against them late in the second and almost turned it into their own scoring chance. On the offensive end, Nieminen put a quality shot on net, but could not pull off the shorthander. An ensuing Stars penalty put San Jose up a man just as Scott Thornton was leaving the box.

Dallas was closing to killing off the power play when a second penalty was called and San Jose had a brief five-on-three. As that advantage diminished to one, Dallas was called for interference and San Jose played the last 15 seconds of the second on the two-man advantage and then took the power play to the third.

Dallas fended off the minute of five-on-three play, but the Sharks still had a minute to play up a man. Cheechoo danced around a defender in the slot and wristed one toward, Turco. The Dallas netminder made the stop, but didn’t get all of it. The puck slid behind Turco, but went just wide of the net. That put an end to both power plays.

Bernier showed his playmaking skills four minutes into the period when he skated behind the Dallas net. Before reaching the point of no return, he slid the puck short side to Marleau in the slot and Turco got just enough of his glove on the puck to prevent a Sharks lead.

Scott Thornton and Perrott battled minutes later, but a simultaneous call to Smith for tripping gave Dallas a power play. Jason Arnott appeared to have a wide-open net to shoot at when a pass came across the slot, but he miss-timed his shot and San Jose avoided the goal against.

The whistles continued as following the Sharks penalty, a Dallas holding minor put San Jose back on the power play. The Stars displayed why they have the NHL’s sixth best penalty killing units when they stopped the Sharks advantage. With ten minutes left in regulation, the game was still even at one.

When Smith was sent to the sin bin again, San Jose did not let that prevent any offensive thoughts. Nieminen was sprung up ice on a breakaway and he made the most of it. He came in from the right side, forced Turco to go down and then popped the water bottle with his shot, giving San Jose a 2-1 lead.

San Jose carried their lead late into the third, but with two minutes remaining, Arnott finally put the tying goal past Toskala.

When Turco tripped Ekman in the crease, San Jose had one minute left to win the contest in regulation. Michalek had the top opportunity in the final minute, but his shot from the high slot was saved and the game went to a fourth stanza.

In the overtime, the power play continued and the Sharks would have a four-on-three advantage for almost a full minute. Joe Thornton set up Ekman for a redirect in front, but the shot did not find the back of the net. When the power play expired, the Sharks truly began controlling play. Cheechoo, Ekman and Ehrhoff seemed to be taking target practice in a shooting gallery, but Turco guessed right on every offensive attempt.

Dallas had two strong shots on Toskala on the other end before Michalek was tripped up and San Jose would finish the overtime with 1:40 of power play time. With 20 seconds to go, after Cheechoo was robbed by Turco, Joe Thornton came to the rescue. Tom Preissing made the play at the blue line and made a nice backhand to Marleau in the high slot. The Captain made a nice fake before feeding Joe Thornton with a quick pass. Turco, worried about Marleau’s shot, couldn’t get over to stop the game-winner as San Jose grabbed two well-earned points.

Nieminen-Joe Thornton-Cheechoo
Scott Thornton-McCauley-Ekman


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