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Captain Marleau stuns Canucks
Sharks win it with 38.6 ticks left
1/5/04 - by Mike Lee

Patrick Marleau made the most of his first game as Sharks captain on Monday night. The Sharks center scored with 38.6 seconds left in regulation to help the Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place. Marleau's stint as captain is a temporary one, but he rang up his 18th goal of the season, proving he's worthy of leading his team this season.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 2 0
VAN 0 0 1 1
1st period - NONE
2nd period - NONE
3rd period - VAN, SEDIN (2) (NASLUND, KING), 07:14 S.J, THORNTON (5) (CHEECHOO, EHRHOFF), 08:46 S.J, MARLEAU (17) , 19:21
1st period - VAN, MORRISON, 06:41 - Hooking VAN, ARVEDSON, 07:56 - Hi stick VAN, ARVEDSON, 07:56 - Hi stick S.J, STURM, 08:08 - Holding
2nd period - S.J, DAVISON, 01:07 - Tripping S.J, DAVISON, 07:11 - Interference S.J, RICCI, 12:19 - Holding stick S.J, DAMPHOUSSE, 14:47 - Hi stick VAN, SOPEL, 18:19 - Slashing
3rd period - VAN, ARVEDSON, 04:12 - Interference
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 38 37
VAN - Cloutier 19 17
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 4 8 19
VAN 9 14 15 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
VAN 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Vesa Toskala
Niko Dimitrakos
Niko Dimitrakos set things up with a nice forecheck inside the Canucks zone. Trevor Linden tried to carry the puck up the left wing but Dimitrakos knocked the Canucks forward off the puck, allowing Marleau to swoop in and wrist a 20-foot shot that beat Vancouver netminder Dan Cloutier.

The Sharks were in a position to win thanks to Scott Thornton, who scored his sixth goal of the season at the 8:46 mark of the 3rd period. Jonathon Cheechoo centered a pass to Thornton in the slot from behind the Canucks net, before Thornton one-timed it for a 1-1 tie.

Henrik Sedin had given Vancouver their 1-0 lead a minute earlier by poking a rebound past winning goaltender Vesa Toskala.

Toskala was peppered for 38 shots, including 29 over the last two periods. Toskala was forced to turn aside four Canuck power plays in the 2nd period. His biggest save came on a Markus Naslund breakaway

The victory extends the Sharks lead in the Pacific Division to 6 points, with Los Angeles idle, and the Dallas Stars tying Anahime 2-2. San Jose returns home on Thursday to square off against eh Columbus Blue Jackets.

Play of the Game
It wasn't the flashiest play of the evening. In fact Patrick Marleau looked downright calm as he squared his shoulders before snapping home one of the biggest goals of the Sharks surprising season. It's that calmness that has served Marleau well this season. When many had the Sharks written off, he has kept his demeanor on an even keel.

The Turning Point
The goals got eh Sharks the win, but it was Toskala's play in the 2nd period that kept the Sharks within striking distance. 38 shots against an offense like Vancouver's typically results in a handful of goals, but the Sharks backup netminder continues to impress in his first full season at the NHL level.

Save of the Game
After singing the praises of Toskala's performance, he doesn't even get credit for the save of the game. That honor is bestowed on Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart who kep the game scoreless in the 2nd period when he deflected an empty-net shot on the Sharks net.

Box Scores Do No Justice
So it wasn't all wine and roses for San Jose on Monday night. Their power play sputtered to an o-for-5 performance, due in part to a horrendous penalty by Marco Sturm just moments after the Canucks were forced to skate down two players. Even with the subsequent 4-on-3 advantage, the Sharks failed to generate any scoring chances.

Honorable Mention
Not all is lost however. The penalty killing, along with Toskala's strong performance help the Sharks add to an already stellar penalty killing ratio this season. Their 87.2% PK gives them the 4th best mark in the league. A far cry from their 3to place finish last season.

"Yeah, I look like a genius. You couldn't get a bigger goal at a better time than that." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson on his decision to make Marleau the current Sharks captain.

"Yeah, that's not too bad a start. .It was a good job by Niko forcing him up the boards and the puck squirted loose. I was just trying to get a shot off quick and it found it's way in." - Marleau on his newly appointed captaincy

"A little bit of luck, too, but that's what we need sometimes. A couple of crazy bounces and Stuey saved me two times from the goal lines." - Vesa Toskala on his performance.

If not some questionable officiating in Chicago, the Sharks would have finished their roa trip a perfect 4-0. Who would have made that prediction in September?

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