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Sharks Shutout Blue Jackets 3-0 To Begin Five-Game Road Trip

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The Sharks were in Columbus on Monday for a matinee match-up against the Blue Jackets. Due to a change in the television broadcast schedule, the 4:00 p.m. Pacific time game was not broadcast on FSN Bay Area, but did air on KFOX 98.5 FM and SJSHARKS.com.
 

Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson continued rotating his goaltenders, sending Vesa Toskala to guard the net while the Blue Jackets countered with Pascal Leclaire. Kyle McLaren appeared in his 600th career NHL game as he and defensive partner Matt Carle joined Captain Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier to start in front of Toskala for the Sharks.
 
Looking to get off to a faster start than they did on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, the Sharks came out flying. Just over a minute into the game, Jonathan Cheechoo drew a penalty on Columbus forward Jason Chimera as he drove towards the net with the puck, forcing the left winger to take a hooking penalty.
 
Just over a minute into the man advantage, Michalek moved the puck to Carle as he swept in on Leclaire. The Columbus netminder cut off Carle's shooting angles forcing the defenseman to circle the net. As Carle appeared from behind the net, he sent the puck from the corner towards the front edge of the goal crease where Bernier was there to chop the puck past Leclaire, giving the Sharks the early 1-0 lead just two a half minutes into the game.
 
The game continued with the two teams playing a back and forth period. Columbus drew a hooking penalty on Curtis Brown six minutes into the frame, but the Sharks diffused the advantage with relative ease. Both teams earned chances, but neither were able to sustain any real pressure.
 
Toskala was called upon and made a handful of timely saves in the first, but the two teams retired to their respective dressing rooms with the Sharks leading 1-0 after one period of play.
 
Like they did in the first, the Sharks came out of the gates on a mission. Team Teal drew a hooking penalty on Columbus defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen just over a minute into the second giving the Sharks their second man advantage of the game.
 
Just 17 seconds into the power play, Michalek gathered the puck and moved in on Leclaire with a full head of steam. Columbus defenseman Ron Hainsey was unable to keep pace with the streaking Michalek and chopped the speedy winger’s feet, but not before Michalek was able to ring a shot off the post.
 
After being chopped down, Michalek attempted to make a second effort on the puck but slammed violently into the end boards. The Sharks leading goal scorer was visibly shaken up and was accompanied to the dressing room by Sharks Head Trainer Ray Tufts.
 
Hainsey was whistled for a tripping penalty putting the Sharks on a five-on-three power play.
 
The Sharks set up on the five-on-three in the Columbus zone, but the two-man advantage ended abruptly when Mark Bell was called for interference. The Sharks continued on the four-on-three power play with Coach Wilson sending three forwards and one defenseman to the ice, a move that paid dividends immediately.
 
After setting up in the Columbus zone for nearly a minute, Cheechoo deposited a puck past Leclaire. Marleau and Joe Thornton earned assists on the power play goal as the Sharks stretched their lead to 2-0 just three minutes into the second stanza.
 
The Sharks continued to press as the line of Marcel Goc, Mark Smith and Patrick Rissmiller got out on the forecheck and cycled the puck. Controlling the puck in the Columbus zone, Goc moved the puck back to the blueline where rookie Marc-Edouard Vlasic corralled the puck, moved it into a shooting lane and fired it on net. Leclaire seemed stunned by the Vlasic shot and lost control of the rebound as Goc jumped on the loose puck and slammed it into the open Blue Jackets net.
 
With his assist on Goc’s goal, Vlasic, who earlier in the day was informed by Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson that he would be retained by the Sharks for the remainder of the season, recorded his first career NHL point.
 
The Sharks, who were already boasting a 3-0 lead, got a further morale boost when the aforementioned Michalek made a courageous return to the ice. Shaking off the effects of the violent crash into the end boards just moments earlier, Michalek appeared to be firing on all cylinders skating full speed through the Columbus zone, pestering the Blue Jackets break out attempt.
 
The period ended with the Sharks killing a Cheechoo tripping minor as Toskala turned aside the swarming Blue Jackets. The Sharks took their 3-0 lead to the dressing room after two periods of play.
 
The third period opened without much flow and the Blue Jackets play took a noticeably physical tone. Already on the power play by way of a tripping call on Columbus defenseman Anders Eriksson, Sharks left wing Mark Bell threw a huge hit on the Columbus penalty killer Chimera sending him to the ice and drawing a response from Blue Jackets Captain Adam Foote. Both earned coincidental minors for roughing as the Sharks refused to let Columbus dictate the style of play.
 
With just over ten minutes remaining in the game, Tollefsen came together with Smith as the two dropped the gloves and threw a flurry of punches. Although Smith gave up four inches and ten pounds to the bigger Tollefsen, the feisty winger landed a few right hands before Tollefsen countered sending the two players to the ice.
 
As time winded down in the period, Toskala was called upon again to make a collection of saves. Diffusing the Blue Jackets attack, the goaltender preserved the Sharks 3-0 lead en route to his first shutout on the season on his 23-save performance.
 
In the waning moments of the third, Christian Ehrhoff threw a Kyle McLaren-esque hip check on Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Picard, sending the winger spiraling hard into the boards. The clean, hard check prompted Columbus enforcer Jody Shelley to take the ice, but time expired without incident.
 
The Sharks kicked off their five-game road trip with a solid performance, scoring the game-winning goal just two minutes and 24 seconds into the game and recording a their third shutout of the season.
 
TOSKALA IN THE RECORD BOOKS
Sharks netminder Vesa Toskala set a new franchise record on Monday evening by extending his unbeaten streak to 12 games behind his shutout performance. Toskala (12-0-0) has not been beaten in the regular season since March 28, 2006 in a 4-1 loss, ironically enough, to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
Toskala bettered Evgeni Nabokov and Steve Shields who previously shared the franchise record by both going 11 games (9-0-2) without being beaten.
 
VLASIC TO STAY IN SAN JOSE
Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that rookie defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be retained by the Sharks for the duration of the 2006-07 season.
 
Vlasic, who recorded his first career NHL point tonight, spent the last three seasons with the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he was coached by legendary NHL goaltender Patrick Roy. Last season as an alternate captain, Vlasic helped lead his team to the Memorial Cup Championship.
 
SHARKS RECALL DEFENSEMAN DOUG MURRAY FROM WORCESTER
Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Doug Murray from Worcester (AHL) where he was on a conditioning assignment.
 
Murray played in five games with Worcester during his assignment, posting three points (two goals, one assist) while earning a plus-4 player rating. Murray has not appeared in any games with San Jose this season
 
Last season, after being recalled to San Jose and making his NHL debut on Dec. 2, Murray played in 34 games with the Sharks, notching an assist and averaging almost 14 minutes of on-ice time.  He finished third on the team and 10th among league rookies in hits, with 110).  Murray’s first NHL point came against Minnesota Feb. 2.  He set a career-high seven hits at Toronto on Dec. 3 and repeated the feat Dec. 28 vs. Phoenix.
 
LINEUP
Bell – Thornton – Cheechoo
Michalek – Marleau – Bernier
Nieminen – Brown – Grier
Smith – Goc – Rissmiller
 
McLaren – Carle
Vlasic – Hannan
Gorges – Ehrhoff
 
Toskala - Nabokov
 
NEXT GAME
The Sharks will continue on to Detroit for the second leg of their five-game road trip, taking on the Red Wings who will be looking to avenge their 5-1 loss to the Sharks on Oct. 19. The game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
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