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Sharks Close To Within 3 Of The Playoffs

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks performed one the NHL’s best comebacks of the year Saturday night in closing a three-goal, third period gap and sending the Phoenix game to overtime.

Lost in the turmoil of a crazy ending (in many ways) was the fact that San Jose’s well-earned point on Saturday night, combined with Edmonton’s loss, pulled the Sharks to within three points of the Oilers and the Sharks still have two games in hand. Team Teal has nine regular season contests remaining while Edmonton has seven.

Still it was difficult for the Sharks to focus on the evening’s positives when they truly wanted the extra point.

“It is distressing,” said Captain Patrick Marleau. “We had one good period. It was the last one, so we can build on it. I feel if we played that way for a full 60 minutes, the result would have been a little different.”

San Jose had an odd-man rush in the overtime stanza, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

“We still had a chance in overtime,” said Marleau. “Then we had the penalty trouble.”

The trouble seemed to begin when Kyle McLaren was driving the net and was beautifully fed by Bernier in the slot. Mike Comrie was behind McLaren, reached around with his stick and McLaren ended up on the ice. No penalty was called.

Then 35 seconds later Matt Carle was whistled for interference and the Coyotes turned it into the game-winning goal.

Vesa Toskala did a remarkable job of keeping San Jose in the game so that the point could be salvaged, but it was a stellar play by him early in the third that sparked the rally. On the sequence, it looked like an easy goal on an open net. Then Toskala dove back toward the crease and made the save, sending the crowd into a frenzy and working up his teammates.

“When he did that, it put a lot of energy in the building,” said Scott Hannan. “Vesa’s save was huge. He never gave up and, as big as the goals were, the save was bigger.”

If not for a great play on the shot, Toskala would not have been in a position to make the miraculous stop.

“I don’t know how he pulled it out from his skates,” said Toskala. “I was down and I tried diving because it was the only thing I could do in the situation.”

After the brilliant save, the offense took over.

“We got the first one so early, so I thought we had a good chance,” said Toskala. “With the new rules, it is easier to come back.”

Toskala enjoyed the crowd’s enthusiasm, even when the team was trailing and not playing well in the first two periods.

“It’s a really good crowd,” said Toskala. “Even when we were down, they were trying to get us going.”

The rally for at least one point was completed by Hannan as he dropped down from the blueline to take a Bernier pass.

“He came around the net with his head up,” said Hannan. “I came in late and stayed wide. It was a great pass and I couldn’t miss that.”

San Jose only had nine shots through the first 40 minutes, but the number was a bit deceiving. Unfortunately the Sharks set a season mark for most missed shots in a single home game with 29. The previous mark was set with 24 missed shots on September 25, 2005 against Anaheim and October 8, 2005 against St. Louis.

“We had a lot of shots in the first, but we missed the net,” said Marleau. “We needed an urgency to put pucks on the net and we finally did it in the third.”

“Nine shots after two periods was inexcusable,” said Kyle McLaren. “We battled, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win. We’ll move on and be O.K.”

The Sharks will head out Sunday for a three-game trip that includes stops in Dallas, Colorado and Los Angeles. It marks a stretch where San Jose will play five of the next six on the road before closing with three at home.

Jonathan Cheechoo scored his 46th goal of season, improving his Sharks single-season goal mark.

With an assist on Hannan’s goal, Marleau is four points shy of tying Owen Nolan’s franchise record for single season points (84), as well as four points shy of tying second place on the Sharks franchise list for single-season assists (52).

Steve Bernier continued his four-game point streak with an assist on Hannan’s goal.

The Sharks will play Dallas Monday at 5:30 p.m. in a game that will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and

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