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Sharks Offense Ignites In Decisive 6-4 Victory

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif.
-- Brian Campbell and Jody Shelley both scored their first goals in a Sharks uniform while Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton (2) netted tallies of their own in San Jose's decisive 6-4 win over the Canadiens on Monday.

The game marked just the 12th time in 17 years the Sharks had played host to the Montreal Canadiens and heading into Monday night's game, San Jose had compiled a 5-3-3 home record against "Les Habitants."



Newly acquired defenseman Campbell made his home debut, though it was technically his second game at HP Pavilion this season. Campbell, who was traded to San Jose by the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26, had two assists in a game at HP Pavilion on Dec. 8, 2007 while playing for the Sabres in a 7-1 Buffalo victory.

Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson tweaked his lineup by inserting Tomas Plihal in place of Jeremy Roenick (flu) and putting in the now healthy Kyle McLaren and Douglas Murray at the expense of Matt Carle and Alexei Semenov.

Evgeni Nabokov was in his usual spot opposite Montreal goaltender Carey Price.

San Jose came out with a strong first shift that resulted in an early shot by Cheechoo, but the following shift resulted in a Marleau goal less than a minute into the contest. Marleau started the play by carrying the puck up ice and dishing it to Devin Setoguchi. The rookie winger moved to his left across the blueline and slid the puck forward through the defender’s legs. Marleau had already skated behind the defense and moved in on Price.

With little room, Marleau moved to the top of the crease and lifted his backhand. Price got a piece of it, but not enough to stop the puck from moving across the line.

Two more goals would quickly follow, one by Montreal and another by San Jose, and all three would be within the game’s first three minutes.

The Canadiens tally came after they won a faceoff in their offensive zone. A simple point shot rebounded directly to Tomas Plekanec and he batted it in before Nabokov could slide over.

San Jose’s fast response would come courtesy of Thornton’s stick. As the puck moved behind the goal line, Price fell to the ice. Thornton did not wait for help and instantly looked for the bank shot. Former Shark blueliner Josh Gorges got a piece of the shot, but it still went off of Price and into the net.

After more than a minute of five-on-three time in which San Jose was buzzing around the net, but could not score, Montreal found the equalizer once again. This time it was a seeing-eye puck from the blueline by Ryan O’Byrne that found its way to the far post.

The first period concluded with the two clubs tied at two.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, right, stops a shot by San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, left, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Mar. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
It looked as if Montreal would have the first scoring opportunity of the second, but a strong backcheck by Torrey Mitchell prevented Christopher Higgins from an easy tap in off the rush.

When successive penalties to the Canadiens gave San Jose a four-on-three advantage, Team Teal once again took the lead. The play began with a Thornton shot that squeaked by Price and sat on the goal line. Joe Pavelski’s skated in with eyes as big as basketballs, but Price cleared the puck in the nick of time. However, the play never cleared the zone and things wound up just as they started. This time, from nearly the same spot, Thornton’s cannon found the back of the net and San Jose led 3-2.

With 5:05 to go in the second, Montreal once again pulled even. This time a missed pokecheck near the blueline provided an opening for the Canadiens. Some tic-tac-toe passing opened up Plekanec alone in the slot and he rifled it home for his second of the game.

As the clock read 3:24 left in the second, the Sharks charged ahead again. For this tally, it was a simple shot from inside the blueline by Jody Shelley. A Canadiens defender deflected it early, but Price still had plenty of time to make the stop. In a nice break for the Sharks, the puck caromed of Price’s stick and to the back of the net. The tally happened so fast the on-ice referees couldn’t verify the goal, but upon going upstairs, the Sharks were awarded the 4-3 lead.

San Jose was outshooting Montreal 29-18 after 40 minutes and led by one on the scoreboard.

3:30 into the final stanza, the Sharks had their first two-goal lead of the night. Thornton fed Cheechoo in the neutral zone and the Moose Factory product skated in on Gorges. Cheechoo moved around Gorges in a highlight worthy play and lifted the puck above Price to make it 5-3.

The up-and-back affair continued as Montreal found another tally to pull within one again. A defensive breakdown led to a two-on-one rush. Nabokov mad e the initial save, but as he sprawled on the ice for the stop, Maxim Lapierre put the rebound in unguarded.

It seemed as if every time the Sharks were about to take complete control of the game, Montreal found a way to respond. Team Teal faced a dangerous shorthanded situation when Patrick Rissmiller was whistled for tripping with 4:23 remaining. Excellent penalty killing by Mitchell and Mike Grier forced a Montreal penalty and the shorthanded situation was erased.

When the Sharks took to the late power play, Brian Campbell showed Sharks fan what he can do. The defenseman sued the spin-o-rama to blow by a defender and beat Price with a backhander, receiving a standing ovation from the fans.

The Canadiens pulled Price for the extra attacker with less than a minute remaining, but the Sharks were able to hold on for the 6-4 win.

LINES
Michalek-Thornton-Cheechoo
Marleau-Pavelski-Setoguchi
Rissmiller-Mitchell-Grier
Shelley-Goc-Plihal

McLaren-Ehrhoff
Murray-Campbell
Vlasic-Rivet

Nabokov-Boucher

NEXT GAME
San Jose will entertain Ottawa Wednesday night at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 start with limited tickets available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.

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