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Cheechoo's hot streak continues
Sharks win tight 5-3 battle
3/18/04 - by Mike Lee

Jonathan Cheechoo continued to wield a hot hand, scoring a pair of goals for the second consecutive game during an entertaining 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center in Southern California. Cheechoo has six goal in his last four games and the hot streak couldn't have come at a better time. With the Dallas Stars winning again on Thursday night, the Sharks had to win in order to keep their Pacific Division lead at three points. San Jose has nine games remaining on their regular season schedule, which includes a game in hand on Dallas, who has eight to play.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 2 1 5
LA 2 1 0 3
1st period - L.A, PIRNES (2) , 01:30 S.J, KOROLYUK (14) (EKMAN, MCCAULEY), 03:04 S.J, BROWN (9) (MCLAREN, STUART), 06:43 L.A, VISNOVSKY (7) (KLATT, STUMPEL), 17:20
2nd period - S.J, CHEECHOO (23) (MARLEAU), 01:05 S.J, CHEECHOO (23) (PREISSING), 15:39 L.A, ARMSTRONG (13) (VISNOVSKY, MODRY), 16:17
3rd period - S.J, BROWN (9) (MCCAULEY), 18:54
1st period - L.A, KLATT, 01:10 - Interference - Obstruction S.J, THORNTON, 10:52 - Roughing L.A, LAPERRIERE, 10:52 - Hi stick S.J, NABOKOV, 13:40 - Roughing S.J, MCLAREN, 16:39 - Hi stick L.A, AVERY, 18:57 - Roughing
2nd period - L.A, STUMPEL, 00:06 - Hooking S.J, MARSHALL, 12:56 - Roughing L.A, LAPERRIERE, 15:09 - Hooking - Obstruction S.J, RATHJE, 15:54 - Hooking
3rd period - L.A, ARMSTRONG, 01:08 - Hooking - Obstruction S.J, THORNTON, 03:34 - Holding - Obstruction L.A, ROBITAILLE, 07:25 - Hi stick S.J, EKMAN, 11:26 - Hi stick S.J, HANNAN, 14:40 - Holding
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 31 28
LA - Chechmanek 15 11
LA - Huet 7 7
empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 4 11 8 23
LA 11 10 10 31
Power Play Conversion
SJ 3 of 6
LA 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Curtis Brown
Lubomir Visnovsky
Thursday night's date with the Kings turned into a shoot out and penalty fest, but it was the power play that carried the Sharks. The special team's unit went 3-for-6 on the power play, which included both of Cheechoo's tallys.

It was also a Sharks power play that surrendered the first goal to the Kings. Esa Pirnes opened the game with a shorthander after intercepting a Niko Dimitrakos pass at the Sharks blueline, before roofing a shot past Evgeni Nabokov. Dimitrakos tried starting the power play rush by feathering a soft pass up the right wing boards, but Pirnes read the play and made the Sharks pay. Dimitrakos landed in Ron Wilson's dog house the remainder of the evening, logging less than ten minutes of ice time.

Alexander Korolyuk would tie the game less than two minutes later by snapping a shot past Roman Chechmanek from the right dot after Nils Ekman kicked the puck out from the left corner. It would be the start of a long evening for the Kings goaltender who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.

San Jose would grab the lead at 6:43 of the period after stepping onto the ice during a Sharks rush and taking a feed from Kyle McLaren just outside the Kings zone. Brown faked a shot from the left circle, which fooled Chechmanek into committing to his knees. Brown held onto to the puck, then slid it into an open net from outside the left post.

The Kings knotted things up at 2-2 with 2:40 to play in the period when Lubomir Visnovsky ripped a shot from the point while Kyle McLaren was serving a high sticking penalty.

Cheechoo would go to work in the 2nd period, scoring both of his goal on put backs after Chechmanek failed to control the puck in either instance. Patrick Marleau bounced a shot off the Kings goaltender, and Cheechoo cut across the top of the slot before slipping the puck into the Kings net for a 3-2 lead a minute into the period.

Chechmanek gave up a big rebound on a Tom Preissing shot that bounced to Cheechoo on the left post. All the Sharks young winger had to do was sweep the puck in a wide open net.

Kings head coach Andy Murray kept up the pressure on the Sharks in the period and his team responded by scoring a goal late in the period to pull the Kings back to within a single goal. Visnovsky uncorked another shot from the point, but Derek Armstrong redirected the puck past Nabokov.

Murray would make another move to open the 3rd period in an attempt to jump start his team by inserting Cristobal Huet in net.

Referees Rob Shick and Craig Spada called a tight game in the final stanza, sending three Sharks to the box and accommodating the Kings with a pair of penalties themselves.

With the outcome still very much in doubt, Murray pulled Huet in exchange for an extra attacker, but Brown prevented any Kings comeback by scoring an empty-net goal with just over a minute to play.

Play of the Game
Brown's move on Chechmanek to setup the Sharks second goal worked because of Brown's patience with the puck. Brown had a Kings defender in tow, but he still managed to freeze Chechmanek with the fake shot, slip around the goaltender and slip the puck from a tight angle into the Kings net. Cheechoo would try to reward the Sharks traded deadline acquisition by passing on a hat trick attempt in order to get Brown a third goal late in the game.

The Turning Point
Every power play was a turning point in this contest. Aside from the Sharks converting on three of their man advantage situations, but the Kings also scored a pair of power play goals themselves. Given the freedom that both teams had on the power play, it was surprising to see Schick and Spada call five 3rd period penalties.

Save of the Game
Nabokov made a pair of saves in the 3rd period that preserved the Sharks victory after Armstrong ripped two shots in succession from about ten feet out. Huet countered with a sequence that saw three or four Sharks shots get buried by the rookie netminder.

Box Scores Do No Justice
70 games into the season, division lead on the line and it's still incredible to see the Sharks fall victim to retaliation penalties. Sean Avery goaded Sharks forward Scott Thornton into a roughing penalty after Ian Laperriere was whistled for a high sticking penalty. Avery gave Cheechoo a shot to the chops, so Thornton stepped in a earned himself a two minute rest.

Honorable Mention
Kings forward Luc Robaitaille was a frustrated man on Thursday. After missing on a sure goal during one of the Kings seven power plays he smashed his stick into the Kings bench, shattering it. He spent the rest of the evening whining about everything imaginable, until he earned a trip to the box for high sticking Nils Ekman in the 3rd period.

"This is probably the best streak I've been on ever since I've turned pro. Everything just seems to be going in." - Jonathan Cheechoo

"We expected him, with increased ice time, to score and maybe produce 15 or 20 goals. But I don't think anybody projected 25 or 30 goals from him. He's obviously hot, and that's what happens to some players -- especially goal-scorers. So you have to keep riding them." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson on Cheechoo

"At this point of the season, it doesn't matter what team you're playing or where you're at. It's playoff time. So every time you go out and lace them up, it's a huge game. But you don't want to get too far ahead of yourselves, and we're definitely not doing that." - Curtis Brown

Brown's goal was his first as a Shark

Korolyuk's goal was his 15th of the season, a new career high.

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