San Jose closed out their final game prior to the All-Star break by topping the St. Louis Blues 4-1 Thursday night at HP Pavilion. Jonathan Cheechoo led the way with a two-goal contest that gave San Jose a two-game winning streak at the NHL’s traditional halfway point.
“It was one of our better efforts,” said Joe Thornton
. “Everybody contributed.”
“It was good we won these two,” said Milan Michalek. “Now we can get some rest and forget about hockey for a few days.”
The Sharks now sit tied with Dallas atop the Pacific Division with 61 points and both clubs lead Anaheim by one point. Team Teal however has four games in hand.
“Our goal is to get as many points as we can,” said Jonathan Cheechoo, who posted his first two-goal game of the season. “We want to come out after the break and continue what we started.”
“It’s definitely nice to still have the games in hand,” said Captain Patrick Marleau
Thornton noted that his usual right winger has been tracking toward a game like this one.
“He’s been looking really good,” said Thornton. “He’s been getting scoring chances and looked really, really strong.”
“That’s why he’s back with that line,” said Wilson. “He’s worked hard in practices and games. He scored a couple just being in front and could have had a couple more.”
Cheechoo’s second goal came when he was crashing the net on the power play, while the first came on a no-look pass across the slot from Milan Michalek.
“We’ve practiced that and I knew he was there,” said Michalek.
“Milan made a great pass,” said Cheechoo. “It was pretty much an empty net, I’d better score that.”
Michalek did his part with regards to goal-scoring by posting the game’s opening tally. On the play, Michalek fanned on the initial shot, but the puck bounced off his skate, allowing him to keep control. Then he lifted the puck in the air on the fly and batted it behind Manny Legace.
“Joe made a great pass and I missed on the first shot,” said Michalek. “It was a lucky bounce back to me and it stayed on my stick.”
Steve Bernier’s game-winning goal in the third period came courtesy of a nicely placed pass from Marleau.
“It looked like a set play, but it just worked out that way,” said Marleau.
In the first period, Thornton took exception to the actions of Barret Jackman and both went to the box, with Jackman getting an extra two minutes.
“Usually one or two defensemen will do (something) every night,” said Thornton. “He is a rugged defenseman and that is his job. It got a little nasty, but it made for a good game to watch.”
Things became a little more intense later in the game when it appeared Dan Hinote tangled with Evgeni Nabokov and Sandis Ozolinsh came to the rescue. At the 60 minute mark, Keith Tkachuk attempted to go after Torrey Mitchell
“Toward the end, it was a little chippy,” said Marleau. “There may be a few bumps and bruises.”
The two head coaches were even chirping at each other following the contest.
“I think they hadn’t been winning and were a little frustrated,” said Wilson. “Nobody got hurt, so we’ll move on.”
San Jose is one of the NHL’s top shot blocking clubs, but Cheechoo took a good one on the ankle in the first period that clearly left the Sharks forward howling.
“I bruised it, that’s all,” said Cheechoo. “Everybody’s got them. Mike Grier has more than most.”
Former Sharks fan favorite Jeff Friesen is attempting to work his way back to the NHL and is currently with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. For the entire article, click here
HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER GAME-WORN JERSEYS
On the weekend of January 11-13th, the NHL and NHLPA teamed to help Hockey Fights Cancer. One player from each team wore a jersey with a special Hockey Fights Cancer 10th Anniversary patch. All proceeds from the auctioned jerseys will benefit Hockey Fights Cancer. Click Here to bid now.
Sharks Executive Vice President and the Sharks virtually the entire amateur scouting staff attended the recent Canadian Hockey League’s top prospects game in Edmonton.
“There is a quality pool of players,” said Sharks Director of Hockey Operations Joe Will. “A number of players we have here played in the game. The players are basically showing what they have for scouts and general managers. It’s similar to college football’s Senior Bowl.”
With Joe Thornton
’s three assists tonight, he surpassed Mike Ricci to move into sole possession of sixth place on the Sharks all-time scoring list (57-209=264). Thornton’s 45 assists lead the NHL.
Including his goal Thursday night, Michalek has posted 17 points in the last 15 games (7-10=17).
BLUES HEAD COACH ANDY MURRAY
“It was a tight game and we were right in it. We took an unnecessary penalty and put them on the power play and they capitalized when we made a coverage mistake in our zone. When you play the type of schedule we have played, you have to play smarter in those types of situations.”
“We don’t normally do that at the end of a game, but when people are going to take shots at our skilled players then we will make a statement.”
NEXT GAMEJoe Thornton
, Milan Michalek and Ron Wilson will take part in the All-Star festivities this weekend on in Atlanta. The Young Stars game will take place Saturday at 4 p.m. PST on Versus, while the All-Star Game itself will be on Versus as well at 3 p.m. PST on Sunday.