SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jeremy Roenick netted the game-winning goal in the third round of shootouts while Evgeni Nabokov blocked Minnesota's final shooter to secure San Jose's 4-3 (SO) victory and sweep the season series over the Wild.
The Sharks clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the win and they remain in second place in the Western Conference with 97 points.
Curtis Brown returned to the Sharks lineup after missing the past 26 games on the Injured Reserve and pocketed a goal and an assist, while Nabokov made 23 saves in his 70th start of the season.
Ron Wilson made the executive decision to rest Kyle McLaren, Marcel Goc and Tomas Plihal from Tuesday’s winning group and inserted Matt Carle, Roenick and Brown onto his lineup card. The decision paid off.
The first big-time scoring chance of the game came when Minnesota’s Marian Gaborik stripped a Sharks defender at center ice and skated in on a breakaway. The speedy winger looked for the far post, but Nabokov had it covered and play went the other way.
Of f the ensuing faceoff, a fight broke out between heavyweights Jody Shelley and Derek Boogaard. The two grapplers each landed a few punches each before being sent to their respective penalty boxes.
San Jose earned the night’s first power play, but could not find the opening goal midway through the first.
With two to go in the opening stanza, San Jose finally cracked the scoreboard.
Brown led a three-on-one rush with Patrick Marleau
and Jeremy Roenick and they created a picture-perfect tic-tac-toe play for the lead. Brown fed it up ice to Marleau, who dropped it back to Brown when he crossed the blue line. Then the puck moved back over to Marleau on the left and across to Roenick on the right side and he tapped it in.
The shots were even at seven after 20 minutes, but San Jose led 1-0.
Strong forechecking by Minnesota resulted in the tying tally less than a minute into the first period. As Nabokov moved to play the puck, the clearing attempt was touched by the Wild. The puck squired out to Kurtis Foster who fired to the slot. Stephane Veilleau was there for the redirect and the puck beat Nabokov to the far side.
3:38 into the period, the Sharks had regained the lead. This time Roenick was the primary assist man as he cross the blueline and found Brown in the high slot. Brown gain control and pushed a backhander to the upper left corner of Backstrom.
A scary moment happened at the 5:18 mark of the second when Torrey Mitchell
and Foster went into the boards chasing the puck. Mitchell was given two minutes for tripping, but Foster was left sprawled on the ice and had to be taken off on a stretcher grimacing in pain. The Sharks did kill off the minor penalty.
After the game, it was announced that Foster had suffered a displaced fracture of the left femur and he would undergo surgery Wednesday night.
Team Teal was peppering Backstrom with pucks in the latter portions of the period, but could not increase the lead.
|San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, of Kazakhstan, left, stops a shot attempt by Minnesota Wild right wing Marian Gaborik during a shootout in an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, March 19, 2008. San Jose won 4-3, in a shootout. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
San Jose controlled the shot clock by a 16-7 mark in the second and would take their 1-0 lead to the lockerroom.
With Joe Thornton
in the penalty box, the Wild found the tying tally at the 14:11 mark of the third. On the advantage, they worked the puck to Gaborik above the faceoff circle and he lasered a shot to the top shelf, tying the game at two.
San Jose had their own scary injury moment when rookie winger Devin Setoguchi was tripped up and went sailing into the boards. He was on the ice for a few minutes, but he was able to return to the bench.
With 2:02 left in regulation, the Sharks regained the lead. Milan Michalek forced a turnover on the forecheck behind the net. He quickly fed Joe Pavelski
at the side of the net and he forced his shot across the line.
With 1:06 to go, Minnesota pulled Backstrom and their risk would pay off. After Christian Ehrhoff was called for hooking with at 19:20, Gaborik converted on a shot from the point for his second power-play goal of the game.
The Sharks and Wild were tied at three and as the final seconds of the game ticked away, the teams were headed to overtime.
At 1:52 of overtime, the Sharks and Wild received dualing penalties when Brown was called for slashing and Brent Burns
was called for cross-checking. Neither team could generate much offense with the 3-on-3 opportunity, but Marleau had the Sharks best scoring opportunity in the final minute of overtime when his fore-check resulted in a Wild turnover and the Sharks captain ripped a shot just wide of the goal.
As they had done just ten days earlier, the Sharks and Wild were headed to shootouts. Back on March 9, Marleau won the game for San Jose on the final shot of the night. This time, Roenick would be the hero in a very similar situation.
After Pavelski and Burns scored on the first round of shots and Marleau and Gaborik were turned aside on their attempts, Roenick netted his shot through the glove side of Backstrom. Mikko Koivu took the final shot for Minnesota and Nabokov snatched the shot with his glove. After making the save, the winning goaltender threw the puck in the air and drop-kicked it in celebration. LINES
Nabokov-Boucher NEXT GAME
The Sharks will host Anaheim on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will be carried on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.Ticketmaster.com.