The San Jose Sharks killed off three, five-on-three power plays for Phoenix, including the final 1:03 in regulation, to seal the 4-2 victory on Friday night at HP Pavilion at San Jose. With the victory, the Sharks (48-26-4) achieved the 100-point plateau for just the second time in franchise history.
San Jose began their final five-game stretch of the season with a Friday night battle against Phoenix. Evgeni Nabokov faced off with Curtis Joseph and Ron Wilson used the contest to rest Craig Rivet and get Douglas Murray
a game before the playoffs.
The game’s first scoring opportunity came when Mark Bell skated in alone on Joseph, but his shot was high the game remained scoreless.
Midway through the first, Team Teal was outshooting Phoenix 6-0 and was headed for a power play due to Derek Morris holding up a driving Jonathan Cheechoo. San Jose put two hard shots on Joseph and held the zone for much of the advantage, but could not find the first strike.
Phoenix took their turn up a man, but it was the Sharks who shined. First Douglas Murray
absolutely flattened Niko Kapanen behind the net. Then when Zbynek Michalek let loose a shot from the slot, Nabokov flashed the glove, bringing roars of approval from the home fans.
The Sharks lost out on a golden scoring opportunity when a centering feed to a driving Christian Ehrhoff hit the right spot, but an uncalled slash broke Ehrhoff’s stick and the play dissolved.
San Jose lost another tough call when Matt Carle was whistled for highsticking Morris, but it appeared to be a Phoenix stick that caused the damage. The Sharks were able to prevent the Yotes from jumping in front and the period closed scoreless.
Early in the third, Murray provided some more physical fireworks. A big hit pummeled Josh Gratton and he retaliated with a cross check to Murray. A fight of heavyweight proportions quickly ensued. Murray pushed Gratton into the boards and landed the first few hits and the two battled for each other for one the season’s best bouts at HP Pavilion.
San Jose did not score on the cross checking power play, but did find the games first goal thanks to the hard work of Curtis Brown. As it appeared Phoenix was about to clear the zone, Brown intercepted the pass and found Mike Grier. Grier quickly dumped it to Rissmiller alone in the slot and the Holy Cross product took one stride and wristed it to the back of the twine.
A parade to the penalty box in the second put San Jose shorthanded for almost six consecutive minutes. San Jose admirably killed off all six PIM’s and preserved their 1-0 lead despite the ice being tilted in Nabokov’s direction.
While on the power play, the Sharks used more strong work along the bluline to increase their lead. This time Marleau gained the puck and attempted to feed Mark Bell about front. The puck bounced high in the air and a Phoenix player attempted to bat it out of the zone. However, Ehrhoff corralled it at the blueline and launched a missile that found the top corner.
San Jose held a mutli-goal lead, but that would not last long. Just over a minute after Ehrhoff’s tally, Fredrik Sjostrom’s simple shot from the far hash mark snuck by Nabokov thanks to an Owen Nolan screen and the led was cut in half.
Marleau and Guerin nearly connected in the waning moments of the second, but San Jose would have to settle for the 2-1 lead.
Four minutes into the lead was 3-1. Mike Grier fought off a check in the neutral zone forced a three-on-two rush along with Brown and Scott Hannan. Grier’s pass went all the way across to Hannan and the normally defensive defenseman drilled the puck home.
San Jose was charging hard and pushed the lead to three. Joe Thornton
hit Cheechoo in stride in the offensive zone and he roofed the puck above a reaching Joseph. The third period tallies came just 1:08 apart.
A window of opportunity opened for Phoenix to climb back into the contest when back-to-back Sharks penalties game them a five-on-three. The Coyotes quickly converted thanks to Steven Reinprecht knocking in a rebound and the out-of-towners had more than a minute to play up a man. San Jose was able to kill off the second power play with no more damage done.
Consecutive penalties by the Sharks inn the closing minutes gave Phoenix their third, two-man advantage of the game. Phoenix pulled Joseph for the extra attacker and the Sharks were forced to defend a six-on-three for the final 1:03. Nabokov and the Sharks stood tall, preserving the 4-2 victory and pulling the Sharks back within four points of Division-leading Anaheim.
San Jose will host a Sunday afternoon affair with Los Angeles at 3 PM with NBC, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com carrying the contest. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and www.ticketmaster.com
|FINAL ||1 ||2 ||3 ||T |
| ||Phoenix ||0 ||1 ||1 ||2 |
| ||San Jose ||0 ||2 ||2 ||4 || |
|PHX: ||SJOSTROM, F. (18:23 in 2nd), REINPRECHT, S. (PPG, 08:56 in 3rd) |
|SJS: ||RISSMILLER, P. (04:20 in 2nd), EHRHOFF, C. (PPG, 17:09 in 2nd), HANNAN, S. (04:04 in 3rd), CHEECHOO, J. (05:12 in 3rd) |