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Focus absent in loss to Wild
Trade deadline distracts attention
3/9/04 - by Mike Lee

The NHL trade deadline came and went without the Sharks making much of a splash, but perhaps the distraction of the day's wheeling and dealing around the league was enough for the Sharks to lose focus on the visiting Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. Evgeni Nabokov certainly wasn't ready for the struggling Wild, who managed to put four straight goals past the Sharks recently beleaguered goaltender. Nabokov has given up 11 goals in his past three games, all Shark losses.

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1 2 3 T
MIN 2 2 0 4
SJ 1 0 2 3
2nd period - MIN, MICHALEK (0) , 08:14 MIN, DAIGLE (12) (BRUNETTE, CHOUINARD), 09:49
3rd period - S.J, HANNAN (4) (KOROLYUK, EKMAN), 04:15 S.J, KOROLYUK (11) (TOSKALA), 14:09
1st period - S.J, HANNAN, 08:52 - Interference MIN, MIN, 13:40 - Too many men - bench
2nd period - MTL, KOMISAREK, 09:45 - S.J, THORNTON, 11:04 - Roughing MIN, MITCHELL, 11:04 - Roughing S.J, THORNTON, 14:02 - Fighting (maj) MIN, JOHNSON, 14:02 - Fighting (maj) S.J, PRIMEAU, 18:15 - Interference - Goaltender MIN, DAIGLE, 19:40 - Interference S.J, EHRHOFF, 20:00 - Hooking
3rd period - MIN, PARK, 09:50 - Tripping
  Shots Saves
MIN - Fernandez 31 28
SJ - Nabokov 20 16
SJ - Toskala 4 4
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 12 10 2 24
SJ 6 11 14 31
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Alexander Korolyuk
Alexander Daigle
Nils Ekman
Things started out in the right direction for the Sharks, who scored 1:42 into the game on Alexander Korolyuk's 12th of the season. Korolyuk swatted in a rebound off a Nils Ekman shot. Korolyuk was floating on the off wing while Alyn McCauley and Ekman tried moving the puck from the left corner.

The lead proved short lived as Minnesota stormed back with two goals in the period and two more in the 2nd period. Wild goon Matt Johnson converted on an Eric Chouinard pass from behind the Sharks net at 11:23 of the 1sr period and Alex Henry scored five minutes later.

Nabokov fell asleep in the 2nd period and it would cost the Sharks dearly. Zbynek Michalek, brother of Sharks rookie forward Milan Michalek, sent a soft shot in from the point after the Sharks failed to clear the zone. Nabokov tried to squeeze the shot with his pads, but it trickled through for Michalek's first NHL goal.

Alexander Daigle would cap the Wild scoring 1:35 later when he skated in uncontested from the right corner and slipped the puck past Nabokov for a 4-1 lead.

Sharks head coach had seen enough of the Sharks starting goaltender, and immediately yanked him.

The Sharks tried mounting a comeback in the 3rd period but they would fall a goal short.

Defenseman Scott Hannan scored on a shot that knuckle-balled on Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez. Korolyuk appeared to tap in the goal, but replays showed that he swatted at it, but missed.

Korolyuk would cut the Wild lea to 4-3 with a highlight reel goal at 14:09 of the period. The Sharks forward split the Wild defense after taking a pass from replacement goaltender Vesa Toskala, then backhanded a shot through Fernandez's pads.

San Jose would outshoot the Wild 14-2 in the final period, but their comeback bid fell short when defenseman Brad Stuart chose to wrap a pass around the boards with less than ten seconds to play rather than taking a shot from the point.

Play of the Game
It came on the losing end of the of the score sheet, but Korolyuk's second goal was a thing of beauty. The speed factor came into play as Korolyuk made a bee-line up the ice with the puck and managed to whip past a defense that is predicated on trapping opponents at center ice. Once Korolyuk made it into the Wild zone unscathed, Fernandez was defenseless.

The Turning Point
Johnson's goal swung the momentum in Minnesota's favor after the Sharks out skated the Wild over the first four minutes of the period. All the Minnesota forward has to do was park himself off the left post and wait for the pass from Chouinard. There were no Sharks defensemen within ten feet of Johnson to stop the shot.

Save of the Game
Fernandez stoned the Sharks on three shots in succession while the Sharks were skating on the power play early in the first period. His best save came off a scrum in front of the net that resulted in a scoring chance the Sharks should have buried.

Box Scores Do No Justice
Scott Thornton tried to light a fire under his team by dropping the gloves with Johnson late in the 2nd period after the scoring damage had been done. That plan didn't work either after Thornton lost his balance and slipped to one knee. Johnson took several swipes at Thornton, who was lucky he didn't get his clock cleaned being the vulnerable position that he was in down on the ice.

Honorable Mention
The Sharks missed on a golden opportunity to establish a little breathing room in the Pacific division after the Dallas stars were shutout 4-0 in Pittsburgh. The Sharks are clinging to a two point lead int eh division with 1 games to play.

"I think everybody was nervous at the end. I told myself if I at least look like I've got it together maybe it's the confidence builder the guys needed. - Manny Fernandez

"I don't know what we did. We just didn't come out to play hard. I don't know if we underestimated them, but we can't afford to do that. We had a chance to pick up a couple of points on Dallas and get some breathing room there and we can't afford to have these kind of games this time of the season." - Scott Hannan

"It was tough toward the end, but Manny made great saves a couple of times. It's a great win for the kids." - Minnesota head coach Jacques Lemaire.

Michalek's goal was the first of his NHL career.

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