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Sharks Drop Finale 4-2, Look To Playoffs

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

DALLAS -- The San Jose Sharks (49-23-10) responded to a series of challenges from the Dallas Stars (45-30-7) on Sunday afternoon, controlling the game physically and racking up 95 penalty minutes despite dropping the meaningless game, 4-2, at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The game took a surprisingly physical tone just six minutes in when Kyle McLaren and Dallas forward Krys Barch dropped the gloves after an altercation in front of the teams’ benches. McLaren earned the decision in the bout while Jody Shelley was whistled for an extra minor in the scrap.

The early scrap was unexpected, but was only a small sign of things to come.

Two and a half minutes following the McLaren/Barch bout, Dallas agitator Steve Ott ran Milan Michalek from behind with a leaping check from behind on the half-boards in the Sharks zone. Michalek’s linemate, All-Star center and former League MVP Joe Thornton, shouldered Ott letting him know that his actions were unacceptable.

As the two tied up, Ott threw a sucker punch to the side of Thornton’s head, prompting Thornton to drop the gloves and hammer him to the ice. Ott turtled, but could not avoid the left-hand blows. Despite Ott’s initial punch, Thornton was called for the extra cross-checking minor and received an instigating minor, sending Dallas on their second power play of the period.

Twenty seconds following Thornton and Ott’s fight, the two teams again came together as Patrick Rissmiller and Dallas forward Antti Miettinen became involved. Alexei Semenov stepped in alongside Rissmiller and despite the altercation involving multiple players on both teams, Rissmiller was called for the extra minor while Semenov was sent off for a 10-minute misconduct, resulting in 1:39 of five-on-three time for Dallas.

The Sharks killed the two-man advantage, no more than a minute after the teams returned to even strength the fisticuffs continued. Michalek, who had been run from behind earlier by Ott, finished his hit on Dallas forward Brandon Crombeen and the two dropped the gloves. Each player received five minutes for fighting, and for the fourth consecutive altercation, the Sharks earned an extra roughing minor.

Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas fanned the flames between the two teams when he blatantly boarded Joe Pavelski with a vicious hit from behind with 5:23 to play in the first. The play resulted in a five-minute power play of the Sharks and led to the first tally of the game.

Dallas Stars defender Mattias Norstrom (4) and San Jose Sharks right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (14) battle for puck as Dallas goalie Marty Turco, left, looks on in the third period of their NHL hockey game Sunday, April 6, 2008, in Dallas. Dallas won the game 4-2. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)
While on the power play, Ryane Clowe was clipped and cut with an errant stick giving San Jose two-plus minutes on a five-on-three advantage. Captain Patrick Marleau capitalized on the power play, beating Marty Turco five-hole for the 1-0 lead.

The raucous opening period ended with the Sharks leading 1-0.

The Stars seemed committed to their game plan of running the Sharks and continued to do so just 25 seconds into the second. Joel Lundqvist charged Douglas Murray sending the Sharks back on the power play.

The Sharks were unable to convert initially, but on their second power play chance of the period, Jonathan Cheechoo scored to make it 2-0 in his first game back after missing six games following the cross-check to the back of the head delivered by Anaheim’s Chris Kunitz.

After Cheechoo scored with 14:14 to play in the second, it was all Dallas as the Stars scored three consecutive goals on Brian Boucher, who replaced Evgeni Nabokov after the first period, to take the 3-2 lead. Goals by Miettinen at 11:35, Stu Barnes at 16:13 and Mattias Norstrom at 19:47 were mixed in among another two fights to close the second period.

Murray and Crombeen got involved in one bout with at the midpoint of the period while Shelley and Ott got involved with three minutes to play in the second. Shelley challenged Ott to a fight, but the Stars tough guy refused to drop the gloves then turtled for the second time in as many periods when Shelley engaged.

The Stars closed the second and opened the third with a 3-2 lead and on a lengthy power play as a result of Shelly/Ott altercation as the game finally calmed down.

The two teams continued to come together after whistles and during the course of the final period, but the fisticuffs were largely contained and the third continued with few stoppages.

The Stars piled on another goal to close out the game and the regular season with a 4-2 win.

Jody Shelley wore the “A” on Sunday afternoon, denoting him as one of the alternate captains for the Sharks. By rule, each team is permitted to denote one player as the captain and two players as alternate captains. With Mike Grier and Craig Rivet each getting the day off to rest, Shelley and Joe Thornton donned the “A” alongside Captain Patrick Marleau.

Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Marleau – Pavelski – Setoguchi
Rissmiller – Mitchell – Clowe
Shelley – Brown – Plihal

Murray – Campbell
Ozolinsh – McLaren
Semenov – Vlasic

Nabokov – Boucher

The San Jose Sharks will open the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, hosting the Calgary Flames for Games One and Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series. The schedule will be released on Sunday evening once first-round match-ups are determined and broadcast schedules are set.
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