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Late comeback preserves lead
Dallas blows three goal lead in 3-3 tie
3/16/04 - by Mike Lee

Should the Sharks hang on to win the Pacific Division this season, they can look back to Tuesday night in Dallas as one of the reasons they've been able to hang on. Staging their most remarkable comeback of the season, San Jose scored three goals over the final 6:03 of regulation to draw the host Stars 3-3 at the American Airlines Center. Jonathan Cheechoo score two goals within a 1:37 span, including the tying goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to lead the Sharks back from the brink of disaster. A Sharks loss would have allowed the Stars to creep within a point of the division lead.

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1 2 3 OT T
SJ 0 0 3 0 3
DAL 2 1 0 0 3
1st period - DAL, ARNOTT (17) (GUERIN, MATVICHUK), 09:54 DAL, ZUBOV (6) (MODANO, MORROW), 14:59
2nd period - DAL, ARNOTT (17) (BURE, GUERIN), 13:49
3rd period - S.J, EKMAN (18) , 13:57 S.J, CHEECHOO (21) (PREISSING, MCLAREN), 18:23 S.J, CHEECHOO (21) (THORNTON, STUART), 19:26
Overtime - NONE
1st period - DAL, TURCO, 02:14 - Interference S.J, MCLAREN, 13:56 - Interference
2nd period - DAL, BOUCHER, 03:06 - Slashing S.J, DAMPHOUSSE, 04:39 - Hi stick DAL, TURGEON, 08:53 - Hi stick S.J, MCLAREN, 13:42 - Tripping DAL, MODANO, 14:58 - Holding - Obstruction
3rd period - DAL, OTT, 07:04 - Charging S.J, THORNTON, 12:07 - Roughing
Overtime - DAL, MATVICHUK, 04:47 - Hooking - Obstruction S.J, MARLEAU, 04:47 - Unsportsmanlike Conduct Diving
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 21 18
DAL - Turco 24 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 8 7 12 0 24
DAL 10 5 3 3 21
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
DAL 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Jason Arnott
Nils Ekman
The comeback broke a three game losing streak to the Stars by a combined deficit of 10-1, including a 4-0 shellacking in Dallas last week. Things looked bleak for San Jose early on after Jason Arnott and Sergei Zubov converted on 1st period goals.

Arnott's came courtesy of a blown defensive assignment by Cheechoo after the Stars gained control of the Sharks zone midway through the opening period. As the puck cycled behind the Sharks net, Arnott floated toward the goal while Cheechoo setup for the breakout rather than cover the Stars center. Arnott would snap a pass from Bill Guerin past Evgeni Nabokov for the early 1-0 lead.

Zubov would convert on a power play shot from the point after Kyle McLaren was sent to the box on an interference call. Nabokov was partially screened but he appeared to react to the shot, but his glove attempt missed on the blast.

Arnott would score again midway through the 2nd period when he put back a deflection after Valeri Bure bounced a shot off Nabokov's chest from the bottom of the let circle.

San Jose looked content to pack it in and call it a night, but Nils Ekman would breath new life into the Sharks by scoring a short handed goal at 13:57 of the 3rd period. Ekman intercepted scooped up a loose puck in the high slot that snapped a shot past Marty Turco.

The Cheechoo show would take over with 1:37 remaining in the game. The Sharks young winger would start by carrying the puck up the right wing, faking a shot, then slipping the biscuit past Turco after forcing the Stars goaltender to commit to the fake shot attempt.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson would pull Nabokov for the extra skater, and it paid off when Scott Thornton hit Cheechoo with a pass from the right corner. Turco had to deal with both Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau, who had converged in front of the Stars net. Cheechoo would swat at the Thornton pass and the puck appeared the squeeze between Turco's pads for the game tying goal.

Nabokov preserved the tie by stoning Guerin on a breakaway attempt in the extra period, after the Stars forward beat two Sharks defenders at the blueline and raced in on net.

Play of the Game
Cheechoo's first goal gave the Sharks a reason to believe, and it also gave the Stars a reason to doubt themselves. The Sharks forward first beat the Stars defense by racing up the ice past them, then he beat Turco with an unbelievable fake. Cheechoo's elected to squeeze the shot between Turco's left shoulder and the right post from a severe angle, which made the shot even more incredible.

The Turning Point
Ekman's shorthanded tally was the first Shark shot to get past Turco in seven periods. It came off a bad turnover by the Stars in their own zone and also happened while the Sharks were down a man. If the Stars convert, they go up 4-0 and probably win the game by that score. Call it the turning point of the season.

Save of the Game
Nabokov's save on Guerin's overtime breakaway not only prevented the Stars from stealing back the win, but it also preserved the Sharks two-point lead in the division. It's been no secret that Nabokov has struggled of late, but that save may have been just what the doctor ordered.

Box Scores Do No Justice
Ekman stands to become the Sharks fourth 20-goal scorer this season. His shorthanded tally was his 19th of the season, and extends his point streak to four straight games. San Jose had five 20-goal scorers last season.

Honorable Mention
From the "why bother?" file, comes referee Don VanMassenhoven's offsetting penalty calls against Patrick Marleau and Richard Matvichuk in the overtime period. Matvichuk hauled down Marleau from behind as the Sharks captain tried to pursue Mike Modano behind the Stars goal. VanMassenhven whistled Matvichuk for the hook, but he also sent Marleau off for diving.


Modano recorded his 1,100th point when he assisted on Zubov's goal in the 1st period.

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