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Sharks Fall In Third Overtime, 3-2

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

San Jose headed into Edmonton looking to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the 2006 Playoffs presented by Intersil, but the host Oilers were aiming to preserve their home-ice advantage and make the round 2-1. It would be Edmonton who crawled back in the series after a Shawn Horcoff goal in triple overtime defeated the Sharks by the final score of 3-2.

Alyn McCauley took to the warm-ups in an effort to return for his first game of the series and Vesa Toskala took his usual spot in net across from Dwayne Roloson. McCauley’s return was fortunate as Milan Michalek was forced to miss the contest as a result of the questionable hit he took in Game 2.

Mark Smith stepped up to man Michalek’s wing position. McCauley took his usual spot between Ville Nieminen and Scott Thornton as Marcel Goc manned the middle between Patrick Rissmiller and Grant Stevenson.

The expected rush that Edmonton would gain from the first few shifts on home ice was evident as they put four early shots up in the first few minutes. Then Nieminen was given two minutes and the Sharks penalty killers were forced into early action. They responded just as they did in Game 2 and although the Oilers were outshooting the Sharks 7-0 in the first five minutes, the contests remained even.

Even without the early goal, Edmonton kept up the pace and forced a second Sharks penalty near the period’s midway point. Edmonton would make Team Teal pay this time. A point shot by Marc-Andre Bergeron was redirected off Patrick Marleau and found the top of the net. Edmonton’s hard early work paid off with a lucky break and the 1-0 lead.

An Oiler turnover at the blueline sent Nils Ekman and Joe Thornton in on a two-on-one with Chris Pronger. Ekman faded to the left to avoid Pronger’s reach and centered the puck to Thornton. A hard backchecking Jason Smith came from behind and intercepted the pass and eliminated the scoring chance.

San Jose seemed to be finding their legs though as they found themselves on a three-on-two rush moments later. Scott Hannan came down the middle, took the feed and launched a blast that just missed tying the game. Despite the opportunities, the Sharks would not put their first shot on net until the 15 minute mark of the first.

The first period clearly belonged to the Oilers as they outshot Team Teal 15-2, but the deficit was only one.

San Jose’s third shot would be a big one. Just more than a minute into the second, Josh Gorges uncorked a blast from the point. Roloson made the stop, but left the puck on top of the crease and Marleau simply pulled it out of reach and pushed it across the goal line to tie the game.

Following a successful penalty kill by San Jose, the Sharks drew their first power play of the game. The Oilers barely let Team Teal set up in the zone, but the Sharks did put up a strong scoring chance when play returned to even strength. Steve Bernier carried the puck down low and absorbed a big hit from Pronger. However, the Sharks maintained possession behind the net and when play moved in front of Roloson, Bernier just missed sweeping the puck inside the far post.

San Jose kept the pressure up and scored moments later. After Josh Gorges did a nice job of carrying the zone, Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton outworked Pronger for a puck in the corner. Thornton’s pass was money to Rissmiller driving the slot and he ripped it to the back of the twine to give San Jose a 2-1 lead.

Team Teal looked to increase the advantage midway through the period when they took to their second man-advantage. While on the attack, Pronger attempted to clear the puck and let the puck fly into the face of Ryan Smyth. The big winger crumpled to the ice as blood poured to the ice. Tough as he is, Smyth skated immediately to the Oilers lockerroom for treatment. San Jose’s power play expired when Rissmiller was called for goaltender interference.

When Rissmiller returned to the ice, he chased down Pronger and plowed him into the boards with a clean hit. Looking to retaliate, Georges Laraque slammed Cheechoo face first into the boards and was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

The lead was ever-so-close to being two goals when Cheechoo put one off the post, but the pipes were friendly to Roloson and the lead remained one. 2:15 into the major, Joe Thornton was called for goaltender interference and four-on-four play opened the ice for two minutes. When even strength resumed, the Oilers finished off the kill.

San Jose was given their third goaltender interference penalty of the game late in the third. Team Teal eliminated the first minute, but the second would carry over to the third.

After two periods, the Sharks had held off the Edmonton surge to stay within striking distance and scored twice to take a familiar 2-1 lead after forty minutes.

The Sharks finished off the Oilers power play to begin the third and then the two clubs exchanged scoring shots. First, Joe Thornton set up Marleau near the crease, but Roloson had the answer. On the other end, Raffi Torres came down the wing unattended and rifled one on Toskala, only to see the Finnish netminder easily control the attempt.

Edmonton was dumping the puck at every turn as the third hit its midway point and they nearly converted when a failed clearing attempt put the puck on Mike Peca’s stick. The feisty center’s shot was ticketed for the top corner, but Toskala spread out and made the spectacular save.
It wouldn’t be long after that, however, before Edmonton knotted the game at two. Torres wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle after receiving a pass from Pronger that sailed past Toskala’s glove. The Edmonton crowd got back into the game, as the score was now 2-2.
Joe Thornton nearly regained the lead for the Sharks with just over three minutes left when Roloson made a poor play behind the net. On his puck clearing attempt, Cheechoo knocked it down and was able to get it out to Thornton who rang a shot off the post.
With just 51 seconds remaining, Tom Preissing made an excellent diving block of a slapshot that potentially could have won the game. Instead the defenseman smothered the puck, forcing a faceoff.
The final 51 seconds ticked off the clock, sending the game to overtime. For the Sharks it would be their first overtime of the 2006 playoffs.
When the overtime stanza began, Edmonton got the first quality scoring chance when Smyth wristed a shot on goal. But Toskala was there to devour it.
On the ensuing, San Jose dodged another bulled when Peca won a faceoff and Torres blasted a shot that Toskala had a hard time seeing. But once again he made the save and the game remained tied.
Edmonton was forced to take their timeout after an icing call would have kept five tired Oilers on the ice against San Jose’s top line. The plan worked, as the Oilers were able to keep San Jose out of their net.
With 12:25 left in the overtime stanza, Ehrhoff was sent to the box for holding Staios when he was heading in on net.
During the first minute of the advantage, Toskala was up to his usual tricks, making two game saving stops on quality attempts. San Jose was able to kill the remaining minute on Ehrhoff’s penalty as the game returned to five-a-side.
San Jose put pressure on Roloson with seven minutes left in overtime, forcing shots on net and keeping the puck in Edmonton’s zone.
Toskala continued to steal the show with less than three minutes left, as Edmonton went back on the attack and continued to rifle shot after shot on him.
The first overtime came to a close with the Oilers out-shooting the Sharks 16-6 in the stanza.
In period number 5, Ekman nearly ended it just under four minutes in, when a puck was turned over by an Edmonton defenseman. Ekman tried to sneak it past Roloson’s short side, but the netminder was able to get his legpad in the way of the shot.
Midway through the second overtime, the team’s continued to go back and fourth, neither being able to solve the other team’s goalie. Both Toskala and Roloson continued to play unbelievable games.
Play really picked up with seven minutes left in the second overtime when two chances by the Sharks, one by Thornton, one by Cheechoo, were both turned away on remarkable saves by Roloson. Cheechoo’s looked as if it was going to be the game-winner as he wristed a shot top shelf and the netminder stuck his glove up at the last second to make the save.
With 1:41 left in the second period, Jarret Stoll saved the would be game-winning goal by hooking Cheechoo, sending the forward to the box, giving San Jose their first power play in overtime. The period ended, however, without the Sharks notching the goal and the teams headed to the locker room to refuel in preparation of the third overtime.
Edmonton killed off the remaining 40 seconds left on Stoll’s penalty when play resumed.
The marathon game finally came to an end, but the outcome wasn’t in San Jose’s favor. A wrap around shot by Smyth was turned away by Toskala, but the rebound found Horcoff, who buried it for the game winner. The Oilers defeated the Sharks by the final score of 3-2 in the longest game in Sharks franchise history.

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