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NHL Oddity Lifts Sharks

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Back on October 15, the Sharks went to our nation’s capital and left with a three goal loss. On Wednesday night, the Sharks returned the favor with a 5-2 win against the Capitals.

Just like Washington did early in the year, the Sharks dominated from the get-go against the powerful visitors from the other conference.

“We had our legs a little bit,” said Dan Boyle. “Overall, it was a good effort.”

“We skated tonight and we didn’t in Washington,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Doug Murray was in the lineup and you can see the difference when he’s matched against top players. We had the ability to play Thornton, Marleau and Heatley against them and we didn’t’ have that opportunity (previously).”

The win was the most important part of the night, but the Sharks were part of recent NHL history when they became the first team to convert two penalty shots in the same game since Feb. 11, 1982 (stat courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau). That game was between Vancouver and Detroit and Thomas Gradin and Ivan Hlinka scored for Vancouver.

The first shot came courtesy of Ryane Clowe who took advantage of a young NHL netminder to score on his patented backhand shot. He had the initial chance because Scott Nichol has forced a turnover on Mike Green and sent Clowe in alone.

“I went back to the well (with the backhander),” said Clowe. “They had a young goalie in his fifth game and he probably didn’t know my move.”

Thornton got his chance when John Erskine let go of his stick while trailing the Canadian Olympian and the automatic call was made. Having seen Clowe’s move, Thornton went in a different direction.

“Clowe warmed him up and made him think I would go backhand,” said Thornton.

Maybe getting them the two in the situation more often should be part of the game plan.

“It’s nice to see both of them score,” said McLellan. “Maybe we should see that more often.”

Surprisingly, it was the first penalty shot goal for both players.

“We’re both batting a thousand,” said Clowe. “I don’t know if I had a penalty shot in junior.”

McLellan laughed about the fact that the Sharks had accomplished such a rarity.

“I’ve seen three shorthanded goals in one game, but two shootout goals in one game, I haven’t,” said McLellan.

The Caps had not given up a penalty shot dating back to Dec. 29, 2007.

With his first period goal, Torrey Mitchell scored his first NHL goal since Feb. 7, 2008. It took a while because it required video review, but Mitchell eventually got his first tally in almost two years. Mitchell may have been a bit lucky on the goal, but his hard work caused the tally.

Racing a Washington defender for a loose puck, Mitchell somehow found the disc and moved it back to a hard charging Frazer McLaren. McLaren rifled his shot toward the net and it deflected off Mitchell’s blade.

“It’s been a long time,” said Mitchell. “I was facing the net and saw it go in. I was looking for a rebound. It feels great.”

“It was good to see Torrey get a goal,” said Pavelski.

The entire NHL is wary of the dangers presented by Alex Ovechkin, but the Sharks did a strong job on the elite Russian winger, even if he did score a late goal.

“It a lot of fun and challenging,” said Boyle, who had a bit of a late spat with Ovechkin that required the referees separating the two. “We were matching the first shift and he was probably out there a minute and a half.”

Murray also had a few run-ins and hits on Ovechkin.

“He’s a great player and exciting to play against,” said Murray. “He keeps you on your toes all night.”

They both got their licks in during the game, but on one where Ovechkin initially seemed to get the best of the play with a big hit, Boyle sacrificed himself and made a pass, which in turn created the goal.

“I saw him coming and I’ve played against him enough to know you’ve go to take a hit to make a play,” said Boyle.

The reason Clowe was able to come out of the box and eventually score the penalty shot was he served a penalty for Boyle who went to the lockerroom to solve a skate problem.

“Maybe he should give me the goal,” joked Boyle.

Joe Pavelski scored the first goal of the game and then tallied the Sharks fourth goal. Combined with his goal and shootout winner in the previous contest, he may be as hot as any Sharks. The timing couldn’t be better as he hopes to hear his name selected for the U.S. Olympic team on Friday.

“It’s always fun to score goals, especially at home,” said Pavelski. “The crowd was great tonight.”

San Jose outshot the Capitals 13-3 in the first period in taking the 2-0 lead that they only increased upon later in the contest.

“We weren’t very good in the first period. We were holding our ground, but we weren’t creating anything. We were waiting for them to make all the plays and consequently we ended up with three shots on goal. If you end up with three shots on goal, you’re not going to win a lot of hockey games.”

Talking about the two goal posts hit by Washington…
“It would have definitely changed the complexion of the game. Up to when we made it 3-1, we were taking the game to them at that point really well. They snuffed it out pretty good to make it 4-1 before giving us a chance to come back.”

Dany Heatley was in a good mood heading into the game day as his Badgers won their bowl game against Miami the previous evening.




San Jose will play in Phoenix on New Year’s Eve at 4 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and

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