Thanks to a two-goal effort by Alyn McCauley against his old team, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs by the score of 5-4. The Sharks looked to carry the momentum over after an impressive 5-0 victory in Buffalo last night. Vesa Toskala started his first game in net since tweaking his groin Nov. 8 in Colorado. He replaced starter Evgeni Nabokov who left the game in Buffalo midway through the third period due to injury. NHL veteran Ed Belfour manned the net for Toronto, looking to become the second leading goaltender all-time in wins.
It took just 13 seconds for the Sharks to cause havoc for Belfour when Joe Thornton
fed cousin Scott in front of the net. Scott went top shelf, but wristed it too high.
Just over four minutes into the game Scott Hannan put the Sharks on the board first. Patrick Marleau
set up the blue liner perfectly as Hannan crashed the net and wristed one past Belfour.
Toronto would answer back just over a minute later when Darcy Tucker quickly tipped a rebound off of a Mats Sundin shot, slipping it past Toskala. The Leafs tied the game at one.
The Leafs went on the power play when Mark Smith hooked Eric Lindros immediately off the faceoff. The lethal Leafs power play came into the game ranking second in the League with the man advantage and they wouldn’t disappoint. Lindros tipped in a one time attempt after receiving a pass from Alex Steen. Toronto now lead 2-1 with ten minutes left in the first.
It only took Toronto less than two minutes to light the lamp again when Matt Stajan drove the net against Doug Murray, who had lost his stick. Stajan put the shot on goal and the puck floated over Toskala in mid air and into the goal. The Leafs lead 3-1.
Toronto went back on the power play when Scott Thornton was sent to the box for high sticking, but this time San Jose would kill off the advantage, only giving up one shot on goal during that span.
The first period ended with the Leafs out-shooting the Sharks 12-4.
The second period began with back and fourth action that saw San Jose not being able to get any shots on goal in the first four minutes. The Sharks went on their first power play of the night when Stajan was sent to the box. Some fancy passing and shooting by Marleau saw the center bring the Sharks within one goal after he tipped in a rebound after his own shot. The Leafs still had the 3-2 advantage, but San Jose was threatening a comeback.
Marleau continued his solid play when he made a picture perfect pass in front of the net in which McCauley, who was playing in his first game in Toronto since being traded from them in 2002-03, sent a shot five hole, tying the game at three.
After Rob Davison was sent to the box for using an illegal stick, the Sharks were playing with a man down. But the Sharks wouldn’t let down as they continued to control the second period. Mark Smith gave the Sharks a 4-3 lead when he headed down the ice on a breakaway, wristing one past Belfour’s stick side.
The Sharks would kill off a penalty to McCauley for interference, and take their 4-3 lead with them into the locker room for the second intermission.
San Jose came out of the locker room looking to add on to their one goal lead, as the Thornton line kept the puck in Toronto’s zone, putting pressure on the Leaf’s defense.
The Sharks went back on the power play after a penalty to Lindros gave them the man advantage. San Jose could not capitalize despite a couple good shots by Marleau.
With 12 minutes left in the third Toronto nearly tied the game at four when they rang one off the post and kept the rebound out in front of the net before Stevenson cleared it out, but not before he hooked Lindros, sending the Leafs on the power play. Toronto couldn’t capitalize and the score remained 4-3 in favor of Team Teal.
San Jose earned 50 seconds of five-on-three play after penalties to Nik Antropov and Steen. It took just 20 seconds for the Sharks to score their fifth goal of the night when Joe Thornton
fed Tom Preissing with a pass that he riffled on net. The rebound bounced to McCauley who tipped in his second goal of the night. The Sharks led 5-3.
With 2:35 left to play, Toronto crawled back within one goal when Jason Allison squeaked one past a stretched out Toskala. The play went under review and was ruled in favor of the Leafs. The score was now 5-4.
The Leafs pulled Belfour with one minute left to play in order to get the extra attacker out. Scott Thornton was sent to the penalty box with 35 seconds left after he shot the puck over the boards and was whistled for delay of game.
Toronto had 35 seconds of six-on-four play, but couldn’t manage a shot on goal and the Sharks skated off with the 5-4 victory.
- Vesa Toskala earned his first victory of the season after stopping 24 of 28 shots.
- Four players had multiple point games – Marleau (goal, two assists), Joe Thornton
(two assists), McCauley (two goals), Dimitrakos (two assists).
- San Jose won the battle in the faceoff circle, 41-28.
NEXT GAME Joe Thornton
will make his HP Pavilion debut when the Sharks come home to take on the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cane be purchased at the HP Pavilion box office and all Ticketmaster locations. The game can be seen on OLN and also heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.