After trailing 2-0 at the start of the third period, the Sharks were able to score three consecutive goals, including two on the power play, and come from behind to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at HP Pavilion on Saturday night.
, Craig Rivet and Joe Pavelski
each scored in the Sharks third-straight home victory, while Joe Thornton
added two assists on the night. Evgeni Nabokov earned the win in net while facing off against former Shark Vesa Toskala who started in goal for Toronto.
Team Teal had the game’s first golden opportunity when Steve Bernier fired on Toskala 30 seconds into the contest and the rebound bounced directly to Milan Michalek, but the defender tied up his stick at the last moment.
Toronto struck first in the opening stanza thanks to the playmaking skills of Mats Sundin. The big Maple Leafs center took a loose puck along the half boards and quickly centered a wide-open Nik Antropov. He let go a shot that beat Nabokov for the 1-0 lead.
The hit of the first period came when a Toronto forward attempted to check Douglas Murray
and ended up flat on the ice.
There were a combined 19 first period shots, but the lone goal went to the visiting Leafs.
Just as Toronto scored early in the first, they struck again 1:42 into the second. A Marcel Goc hooking penalty put the Maple Leafs up a man and they wasted little time converting. Defenseman Pavel Kubina skated down the right side on the rush and snuck his blast on Nabokov’s short side, providing Toronto a 2-0 lead.
San Jose was having trouble creating offense, but Murray provided a huge boost with three minutes left in the middle period. He received credit for two huge hits that thrilled the crowd and his teammates.
The big hitting appeared to have an effect as San Jose made a late second period surge that brought on a power play with 40 seconds remaining in the period. They did not score prior to the period ending and would settle for the beginning of the third with 1:20 of power play time to try and cut the two-goal deficit.
With the man-advantage still in effect, the Sharks finally converted on their former teammate. Following a brilliant play by Hal Gill that stole a goal from Patrick Marleau
, the Captain went another route. Taking the puck at the blueline, he cranked up a blast that bounced off a defenders stick and snuck through the goal pads.
Successive penalties to Toronto’s Jiri Tlusty and Gill provided the Sharks with a one minute and 17 second five-on-three power play with 11:46 left in the third. Slowly working the puck around down low and to the points, Rivet finally let loose a bomb that tied the game and left San Jose with 1:43 of power play time.
It appeared the remaining time on the power play would finish without the go-ahead goal when Cheechoo was snuffed out from eight feet out, but he regained possession and as even strength play returned, he ripped a shot toward Toskala. Pavelski was parked out front and altered the direction to provide the 3-2 lead for the home club.
With one minute remaining in the period, the Leafs pulled Toskala for the extra attacker. As Toronto entered the Sharks zone with six skaters, Nabokov was able to cover the puck, but chaos infront resulted in pushing in shoving. With 49 seconds remaining, the Leafs won the faceoff, but Mitchell and Rissmiller were able to block the last two shots of the period and with all the viewers of Hockey Night In Canada watching, the Sharks were able to defeat the Maple Leafs 3-2.
When the visiting starters were announced, Toskala received a warm ovation from the HP Pavilion crowd.
After tonight's game against the Leafs, the Sharks will immediately head to Anaheim to take on the Ducks on Sunday, January 13 at 5:00 PM (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX RM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.