The first 59 minutes of the Sharks game against Vancouver weren’t ideal. The club was on its way to just their second regulation loss of the season as the Canucks had a 1-0 lead and were sitting back clogging the neutral zone.
San Jose was pressuring the latter half of the third, but it was not until Evgeni Nabokov skated off the ice for an extra attacker that they overcame the deficit. With 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Joe Thornton
found Devin Setoguchi with a pass through the high slot and the Alberta produce pounded home the tying tally.
“I saw him pass it and it was just a matter of getting it on the net,” said Setoguchi of a shot that the CSN Bay Area replay showed he perfectly placed as Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo was sliding over.
Once the Sharks tied the game, it seemed like only a matter of time before they sealed the victory. Then when Dan Boyle
drew a penalty, the four-on-three advantage was all Team Teal needed.Patrick Marleau
was set up for two efforts in on Luongo, but was rebuffed twice. When Thornton set up Marleau for a third effort, the Captain connected.
“We were fortunate to get the power play and Boyle held the puck to force the hooking penalty,” said Marleau. “I think the first one was probably my best chance and I think I hit a snow bank. On the second, the defenseman got my stick. The third, I was just trying to bear down.”
In the end, the Sharks were pleased they once again showed the fight they possess inside.
Once the Canucks had the early lead, they were content to sit back and clog the middle, sometimes having all five players backing up.
“Our plan before the game was to put a lot of shots on net and get guys in front,” said Setoguchi. “We didn’t do that and he (Luongo) saw everything.”
On the other end of the ice, Setoguchi’s goal would not even have been a tying tally had Nabokov not been as vital as always, including a late stop on Mats Sundin.
“He didn’t see much action, so seeing a breakaway is tough,” said Setoguchi. “That’s why he’s one of the best goalies.”
Luongo only saw 15 Sharks shots in the first two periods.
“We talked about shots in the second intermission,” said Boyle. “You won’t score too many if you don’t shoot the puck.”
LEMIEUX SKATES 7
In his NHL return, Claude Lemieux skated a solid 7:08 and even took a few shifts on the third line.
For one of his sons, in attendance, Lemieux may have been the best player on the ice.
“He played awesome,” said the younger Lemieux.
As for Lemieux, he knew the opinion was skewed.
“He’s a little (biased),” said Lemieux.
Seriously, Lemieux was happy with his effort.
“I had the shakes in my hands,” said Lemieux. “I didn’t sleep much the last three days and one night, not at all. The fans were unbelievable and they honored me on my first shift. It meant a lot to me.”
“Claude was really good,” said McLellan. “He finished his checks and was not a liability.”
When he hit the ice, Lemieux had a mission on his mind.
“I wanted a shot on net and a hit,” said Lemieux. “It tried to keep it simple.”
MAJOR MINUTESDan Boyle
has been asked to take on a larger role with two of the Sharks top six blueliners out and he played 32:47, more than half the game. As the Sharks were pressing for the tying goal, he skated for more than two minutes and seemed to be on the ice for all of the overtime.
“I think I had a seven minute shift,” joked Boyle. “That was the way I used to play back in Tampa.”
“He’s been a really important player the last six periods,” said McLellan.
SILVER STICK TOURNAMENT
McLellan will stop off in Port Huron, Michigan on his way to the All-Star game and watch his elder son, Tyson, represent the Jr. Sharks in the Silver Stick Tournament.
“He flew out this morning and the tournament begins Thursday,” said McLellan. “I’ll get to watch one game and maybe two. He practiced with his old team tonight.”
Marleau’s game-winner was his eighth of the season and he leads the NHL in the category. He is now up to fifth in the NHL in goals. Setoguchi’s 21 goals rank tenth and Thornton has now moved into a tie with Sidney Crosby for second in the NHL with 43 helpers.
SHARKS HEAD COACH, Todd McLellan
“The two games we have played in the last 72 hours have been complete opposites. Tonight was dumping it out and five guys in the neutral zone. We were lucky to pull the goalie and win in overtime. I like to see our go-to people play like go-to people the last few minutes and get the win.”
VANCOUVER HEAD COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT
“In general, I thought we played a pretty solid road game. We didn’t give them much, but obviously, I think we were unlucky at the end there. A great player made a great play. It was more lucky that pass went through and there wasn’t much to shoot at, but they were able to tie it up. Their winning goal – obviously I think the play should have been blown; you can’t be poking your stick into the goal tender when the goalie’s got the puck under him.”
“On the contrary, I think the way we played tonight is the way we came to play and I said last game a lot of times when you go through some of these challenges toward the end, when you’re looking for a win, there’s a lot of games that you play well in. This was one, Columbus was one. We didn’t [win], so we’ve got a couple of days here to refuel and it’s a really important second half. We’re right there with everybody else. At the beginning of the year, that’s what people said, that we’re going to be right there, and that’s where we are.”
The NHL All-Star weekend will take place in Montreal on Saturday at 3 p.m. (skills competition) and Sunday at 4 p.m. (actual game) and will be carried on Versus.