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Depleted Sharks still get the job done
SJ knocks off Colorado without big 3
1/17/04 - by Mike Lee

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson has stressed that team unity has been one of the gating factors in San Jose's success this season. That unity was disrupted to a degree before Saturday night's game versus the Colorado Avalanche, in the form of injuries to team scoring leaders Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm and an excused absence for goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who didn't join the team in Denver until Saturday afternoon because he was home tending to the birth of his first child. The rest of the team made up the key absences by knocking off the Avalanche 2-1 at the Pepsi Center.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 1 2
COL 1 0 0 1
1st period - COL, LILES (4) (TANGUAY, HEJDUK), 08:33 S.J, THORNTON (8) (RICCI, CHEECHOO), 15:06
2nd period - NONE
3rd period - S.J, EKMAN (11) (KOROLYUK, MCCAULEY), 00:15
1st period - S.J, PARKER, 03:00 - Fighting (maj) COL, WORRELL, 03:00 - Fighting (maj) S.J, SMITH, 06:50 - Hi stick COL, KARIYA, 16:55 - Slashing COL, LILES, 19:18 - Interference
2nd period - S.J, RATHJE, 05:07 - Hooking S.J, RICCI, 09:57 - Tripping COL, SAKIC, 16:46 - Holding stick
3rd period - S.J, RATHJE, 02:04 - Tripping S.J, STUART, 13:10 - Cross check COL, KONOWALCHUK, 15:03 - Hooking S.J, HARVEY, 19:50 - Hooking COL, KONOWALCHUK, 20:00 - Roughing S.J, RATHJE, 20:00 - Roughing
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 33 32
COL - Aebischer 24 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 8 9 24
COL 8 13 12 33
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 4
COL 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Vesa Toskala
Nils Ekman
Mike Ricci
The Sharks rode the hot hand of backup netminder Vesa Toskala and took advantage of two key scoring chances to win against one of the hottest teams in the NHL. The victory was really achieved by shutting down the league's best power play.

Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles did score the Avalanche's only goal on the man-advantage, but the Sharks denied Colorado on five other opportunities. Toskala was exceptional in net, making several huge saves.

The Sharks took advantage of a timely bounce and more strong fore-checking to put points on the board. Scott Thornton tied the game 1-1 with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period by grabbing a rebound off the end boards and squeezing a shot past David Aebischer from outside the left post. Mike Ricci had fired a shot from the slot moments earlier, but it missed the net wide left before kicking off the boards back to Thornton.

Nils Ekman converted just 15 seconds into the 3rd period after Alyn McCauley forced a turnover deep in the left corner of the Colorado zone. Alexander Korolyuk grabbed the loose puck along the left wing boards and snapped a pass to Ekmen in the slot. Ekman all by himself in eh slot, and easily one-timed the pass past Aebischer.

Toskala sustained13 Colorado shots in the 2nd period to preserve the 1-1 tie, which positioned the Sharks to win with the Ekman goal.

Play of the Game
With the Avalanche swarming in the waning stages of the game with an extra attacker, Joe Sakic had the puck on the doorstep, a partially screened goaltender and a wide open net, but he failed to convert because Todd Harvey never allowed him to get a shot off. Harvey hooked Sakic on his left arm, denying the Avalanche captain from getting his stick down on the ice. It was the best penalty the Sharks have taken all season.

The Turning Point
Ekman's goal changed the whole complexion of the game and certainly changed Colorado's game plan in the 3rd period. The Avalanche have relied on their special teams play to win games for them all season, but they were forced to focus on the tying goal and keeping the Sharks from extending the lead to 3-1.

Save of the Game
Former Shark Teemu Selanne had a chance to sting his old team once again (he scored the game-winning goal for Colorado back on November 11th), but Toskala denied the Finnish Flash with a spectacular glove save after Selanne and Paul Kariya moved in on a 2-on-1 break late in the 3rd period. Toskala denied Selanne on a breakaway minutes earlier after Colorado defenseman Rob Blake sprung Selanne with a touch pass at center ice.

Box Scores Do No Justice
Mike Rathje and Steve Konawalchuk received roughing penalties at the end of the game after the two mixed it up as the final horn was sounding. It's not often you see Rathje throwing blows, so when he does, the official scorers have to reward him with a fighting major.

Honorable Mention
Speaking of tough guys. Give Sharks tough guy Scott Parker a lot of credit for dropping the mitts with Peter Worrell. Parker has been nursing an injured forearm, but he answered the bell in the 1st period when Worrell proposed the dance.


The Sharks are 10-2-1-1 in their last 14 games.

Nabokov and wife Tabitha welcomed delivered their first child, Emily Paige on Friday at 9:06pm. The 19 ½ -inch, seven-pound, ten-ounce goaltender will be available for the National Hockey League Entry Draft in 2022.
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