San Jose and Colorado hooked up at HP Pavilion for the first time this season and Sharks fans were rewarded with a 5-2 victory in the Sharks last game of 2005. Joe Thornton scored the Sharks first two goals and Nils Ekman tied a franchise record with four assists.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson gave Vesa Toskala the start across from David Aebischer.
The game’s first power play came when Jim Fahey was called for hooking just two minutes into the game and Colorado had an excellent scoring opportunity right off the bat. Milan Hejduk had the puck on the doorstep, but Toskala quickly turned away the Avalanche sniper.
Later in the Colorado advantage, Joe Thornton
set up Cheechoo for two one-timers. On the other end however, it was Joe Sakic who found the back of the net first when his backhander beat a downed Toskala.
An Ossi Vaananen penalty gave San Jose their first power play, but they couldn’t connect despite several shots. However a Rob Blake holding call gave Team Teal their second power play of the first 10 minutes. Again though, the Avalanche penalty killers would help out Aebischer.
Toskala would have to fend off another Avs penalty before they found themselves on the positive end of a 30 second five-on-three. Despite controlling the zone and firing several shots toward the net, the puck just seemed to fall to the wrong side of the posts.
With a minute remaining in the first, a Cheechoo shot hit the post and bounced back under Aebischer. The play went upstairs for a look, but clearly did not cross the line. However, the Sharks would not quit, even as the period wound down. They fought for a loose puck along the boards and sent it up to Christian Ehrhoff at the point. His shot was stopped, but Ekman was out front fighting for the rebound and helped send it to the side of the net where Joe Thornton
was standing unobstructed. He tapped in the easy rebound to tie the contest at one right before intermission.
Right out of the gate in the second, Patrick Marleau
looked to make it 2-1. He skated in behind the defense and while still skating forward, forced Aebischer to the ice. Somehow, as the puck was lifted up, the Avs goalie got a piece of it. It was still headed across the line, but an Avs blueliner knocked it down in mid-air and Colorado cleared the puck.
On the other end of the ice, Rob Davison started an offensive rush with a great defensive play. With Dan Hinote skating in into the slot for a shot, Davison knocked him to the ice, creating a loose puck situation that San Jose sent the other way. Joe Thornton
carried the puck into the high slot on the other end and when Karlis Skrastins attempted to knock him off the puck, the big center leaned forward and took the shot in mid-air. The shot rang off the left post and crossed the line on the other side.
Colorado would not sit back as they quickly tied the game again. A perfect pass to Alex Tanguay entering the offensive zone sent the winger in alone on Toskala. Tanguay deked right and then tucked the puck five-hole for the 2-2 game.
At the game’s midway point, San Jose was halfway to 50 shots and Colorado had put up 17.
San Jose’s next shot would be their third goal. Hard work on the forecheck by Alyn McCauley forced an errant pass by John-Micheal Liles that Scott Thornton intercepted. He skated in alone on Aebischer, and with very little angle, roofed the puck to the right corner to once again provide San Jose the lead. Joe Thornton
may have had two goals on the night, but he had one piece of bad luck. An uncalled highstick to the mouth by Hejduk cut the San Jose center and appeared to knock out a few teeth. Instead of a four minute power play, the game would continue at even strength.
San Jose was flying around Aebischer as the second period ended, but could not increase the 3-2 lead.
An Andrew Brunette holding the stick penalty against Josh Gorges gave the Sharks another chance to add to their lead and this time it was the Captain who answered the bell.
Hard work behind the net by Cheechoo and Ekman controlled the play and when Marleau dipped down from the point, Ekman perfectly slid him a pass that Marleau rifled past Aebischer. San Jose had their first two-goal lead of the night and the floodgates seemed to open.
Minutes later Cheechoo put up his 20th of the season. Joe Thornton
gained control of the puck at the blueline and hit Ekman entering the zone. Ekman’s shot was stopped by Aebischer, but the rebound came right to Cheechoo for his first goal of the night. The assist was Ekman’s fourth of the night, tying a Sharks record.
With San Jose next having to kill off a penalty, Josh Langfeld showed what hockey players are made of. He blocked an initial slapshot, but the puck stayed in the zone. It was a second block by Langfeld that he corralled and cleared that killed off the penalty and brought a roar from the crowd.
San Jose closed out the game with 40 shots in the 5-2 victory against their playoff rival.
San Jose will have off until Thursday when they return to HP Pavilion for a contest with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or .
Niko Dimitrakos and Ryane Clowe
were the healthy scratches on the night while Tom Preissing missed another game with the flu.