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NIght Of Firsts In San Jose

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

San Jose’s team record seven-game winning streak came to a close Saturday afternoon against the Dallas Stars, but the Sharks did grab a valuable point for the playoff race. Dallas prevailed 4-3 in the contest decided by a shootout, but depending on the outcome of later games, the Sharks may have moved closer to the eight spot.

“It feels like a loss, and it is, but we did get a point,” said Alyn McCauley.

“We are fortunate to have the point because of how we started the game,” said Ville Nieminen. “It is a huge point in the standings."

San Jose trailed 2-0 midway through the contest and their play until that time clearly cost them an extra point.

“We started out flat, but we worked hard to get the one point,” said McCauley. “If we would have come out prepared at the beginning, we might not have to go to a shootout.”

The reason the game even went to a shootout was due to the final five minutes of the second period when San Jose scored three goals in a 1:19 second span.

He would rather have the win, but it was just another night in net where Vesa Toskala provided at least a point for Team Teal. Toskala is looking forward to seeing the tape of the contest as Dallas’ first goal came with Jason Arnott in the net beside him.

“I’m not sure what happened, but I think I lost my stick too,” said Toskala. “I don’t know how he ended up there, but I couldn’t really do anything.”

He did accomplish something no NHL netminder had in nine previous attempts this year – he stopped Dallas’ Jussi Jokinen on a shootout attempt.

“I’ve seen all their shooters on tape,” said Toskala. “You never know what to expect, I just stayed patient and followed the puck. It is always a 50/50 chance.”

“In the shootout, Cheech hit the crossbar and if it goes in, we win,” said Ron Wilson. “The guys we’re putting out there are capable of scoring. It was not for a lack of effort.”

Two Sharks scored their first goal in a Sharks uniform. Ville Nieminen posted his first in teal and he played a significant role in the first career NHL goal of Patrick Rissmiller. Nieminen started the Sharks rally by gaining his own rebound and putting it upstairs on Marty Turco. It was a big goal for the newest Shark and the club.

“Every goal feels special when you are a single digit scorer,” laughed Nieminen. “Every goal is an adventure.”

On Rissmiller’s goal, Nieminen grabbed the puck before it could leave the zone and just fired it toward the slot, then happily watched as it deflected off Rissmiller’s stick and into the net. Rissmiller actually started the possession by putting the puck deep.

“I just dumped the puck in and 'Smitty' went and got it,” said Rissmiller. “Then it bounced out to Ville. I was lucky to get my stick on it. It was a lucky bounce, but I’ll take it any way I can.”

For San Jose, it was good timing to get two goals from a line not led by Thornton or Marleau.

“It is the third and fourth line’s job to give the team a spark when it needs it,” said Nieminen.

Rissmiller received some simple advice as he tries to stay with the big club.

“It’s been a lot of fun and I’m trying to find my place here,” said Rissmiller. “I talked to Ron earlier and he said not to worry about the goals and finish my checks.”

Milan Michalek scored the Sharks final goal of the evening and it ended up being the one that earned the Sharks a point in the 4-3 shootout loss. Michalek now has six points in his last five games and is a +7 during the stretch.

“It was a nice pass from Steve Bernier,” said Michalek. “The defense was caught standing so I tried to go around him. The goalie was on the right post so I went to the far side.”

Michalek feels that he and his linemates (Patrick Marleau and Bernier) are only scratching the surface.

“I think it is a really good line,” said Michalek. “We had a couple of great chances. We are all big and we can work the D in the zone.”

San Jose’s power play has been on fire lately, but they were 0-for-5 against the Stars.

“Our power play was not as good as it’s been, but their penalty killers did a good job,” said Wilson.

Four of the Sharks six games against Dallas this year have gone to overtime, with two going to the shootout.

Joe Thornton collected his 98th point of the season, adding to his NHL lead. Jagr and the Rangers play later this evening. Jagr currently stands at 96 points. Thornton’s assist in the second period extended his points streak to six games (2-10=12).

Kyle McLaren led all players with a plus three on the afternoon, included registering an assist.

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