Behind a goal and three assists by superstar center Joe Thornton
, the Sharks dominated the Coyotes, winning 5-1 in Phoenix on Thursday night.
for video highlights from Thursday’s game.
The Sharks were in Phoenix on Thursday night for a rare one-game road trip before returning home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
San Jose dominated play in the opening minutes and on just the second shift of the game, the Sharks got on the scoreboard. Only 1:18 into the first, Joe Thornton
gathered the rebound from a Milan Michalek shot just behind the Phoenix cage. Thornton found a passing lane and feed Jonathan Cheechoo who snapped the wrist shot off the far post and in behind Phoenix goaltender Mikael Tellqvist for the 1-0 lead.
The Sharks maintained their early intensity and with 15:43 to go in the first, forced Coyotes forward Steven Reinprect to take a hooking minor. Though the Sharks threatened on the ensuing power play, the Phoenix penalty killers prevented San Jose for expanding their lead and successfully killed the man advantage.
With just under nine minutes to play in the first, the Coyotes earned their first scoring chance of the game. Phoenix captain Shane Doan gathered the puck in the slot and ripped a shot toward the Sharks net. But a red-hot Evgeni Nabokov easily snagged the puck out of the air, making the glove save.
The Coyotes would pressure the Sharks to close the period, but after 20 minutes of play, the Sharks led 1-0.
The Sharks opened the second period in the same way the opened the first, scoring in the opening minutes. With 15:50 to go in the second, the Thornton-Cheechoo-Michalek line struck again.
Thornton again set up from behind the Phoenix goal, this time finding Michalek wide-open in front of the crease. Michalek made a move but was bumped off the puck before he could shoot. Cheechoo then gathered the puck and buried the backhand, extending the Sharks lead to 2-0.
With 12:27 to go, Bill Guerin continued his scoring ways by netting his fourth goal as a member of the Sharks and increasing the Sharks lead to 3-0. Guerin’s goal was setup by a textbook breakout and passing play by San Jose.
Matt Carle gathered the puck in the corner and moved it to his defensive partner Craig Rivet. Rivet then passed the puck to Mark Bell who was in position on the half boards. Bell hit Captain Patrick Marleau
in the neutral zone with a pass as he broke into the Phoenix zone with speed. Marleau found Guerin with a drop pass on the top of the circle to Tellqvist’s right and Guerin beat the netminder with the far-side wrister for the third goal of the game.
With 9:09 to go, the Sharks were whistled for their first penalty of the game, a holding call on Cheechoo. Phoenix earned a pair of scoring chances on the advantage, but Nabokov kept Phoenix off the scoreboard.
The two teams would exchange power plays to close the period as Phoenix’s Mike Zigomanis and Kyle McLaren were each whistled for hooking about two-and-a-half minutes apart. Neither team was able to convert on their man advantage, and after 40 minutes of play the Sharks led 3-0.
A questionable roughing call on McLaren to start the third period opened the door for the Coyotes and they took full advantage. Just 3:48 into the third, Travis Roche cut the Sharks lead to 3-1, redirecting an Owen Nolan pass past Nabokov for the power play goal.
With just under 16 minutes to play in the third, Cheechoo nearly converted on his bid for a hat trick, earning a pair of chances in the Phoenix end. Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard tried to take Cheechoo’s head off, running at the talented winger with a high hit. But Cheechoo easily dodged the Ballard cheap shot and nearly buried his fourth goal of the game. Later on the same shift, Cheechoo put a redirection on net, but Tellqvist denied.
Ballad’s run seemed to pick up the overall intensity of the game as the two teams went end-to-end. Nolan nearly made it a 3-2 game when he caught Nabokov slightly out of position, but he fired the puck high and off the glass.
After Nolan misfired, McLaren regrouped and chipped the puck up the boards to Cheechoo who moved the puck to Thornton. Thornton collected the puck at the Sharks blueline and skated in on his off-wing on a two-on-one with Michalek. Deciding to take the shot himself, Thornton beat Tellqvist from the faceoff dot with a perfectly placed backhand just under the crossbar to give the Sharks a 4-1 lead with 11:51 remaining.
An ill-advised high-sticking minor on Daniel Carcillo sent the Sharks on their third power play and they wasted no time. Needing just 17 seconds to convert, Thornton operated from his usual spot on the half-boards and fired a shot at Tellqvist. Michalek redirected the puck that ended up on Matt Carle’s stick. Carle slammed the puck home into a wide-open net giving the Sharks a 5-1 lead with 10:21 to play.
The San Jose defense stifled any thoughts of a comeback, allowing only one shot in the remaining 10 minutes as the Sharks dominated the Coyotes from the opening minutes to the final buzzer, winning 5-1 in Phoenix.
A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
It was a nervous moment for Sharks fans just four minutes into the first period. Leading 1-0 on Jonathan Cheechoo’s goal in the opening minutes, Scott Hannan inadvertently dumped a puck onto the Sharks bench that hit Cheechoo on the left cheek opening a cut on the winger’s face. Cheechoo did not miss the shift as a result of being cut and would score the eventual game-winning goal four minutes into the second period.
IN GOOD COMPANY
With his three assists on the night, Joe Thornton
now has 75 assists this season. Last season, Thornton led the NHL with 96 assists, thus making him the first NHL player to have consecutive seasons of 70-or-more assists since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux both accomplished that feat in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
The Sharks have not allowed a goal in the first or second period in each of their last six games posting a 5-0-1 record and outscoring their opponents 23-4 in that span. Evgeni Nabokov has posted a stingy 0.66 goals-against average and a 0.974 save percentage while starting each of those six games.
Clowe – Goc – Bernier
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Bell – Marleau – Guerin
Rissmiller – Brown – Grier
Hannan – Vlasic
Carle – Rivet
McLaren – Ehrhoff
Nabokov – Toskala
The Sharks return to action on Friday night for the second half of back-to-back games, playing host the Columbus Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
|FINAL ||1 ||2 ||3 ||T |
| ||San Jose ||1 ||2 ||2 ||5 |
| ||Phoenix ||0 ||0 ||1 ||1 || |
|SJS: ||CHEECHOO, J. (01:18 in 1st), CHEECHOO, J. (04:10 in 2nd), GUERIN, B. (07:33 in 2nd), THORNTON, J. (08:09 in 3rd), CARLE, M. (PPG, 09:39 in 3rd) |
|PHX: ||ROCHE, T. (PPG, 03:48 in 3rd) |