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Pacific Division Champions
Sharks wrap up regular season road schedule with 3-0 win in LA
3/31/04 - by Mike Lee

The Pacific Division crown was past to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night after the defending division champion Dallas Stars lost to Edmonton 3-1 in Dallas. The Sharks celebrated by wrapping up the last regular season road game with a 3-0 win over the host Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. In doing so they set team records for most road wins in a season (19), road points (46) and overall points (102). With two games to play they can extend their overall points record, and potentially finish with the second best record in the NHL this season.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 1 3
LA 0 0 0 0
1st period - NONE
2nd period - S.J, A. MCCAULEY (18) (A. KOROLYUK, N. EKMAN), 10:10 S.J, N. DIMITRAKOS (8) (B. STUART, K. MCLAREN), 10:39
3rd period - S.J, A. MCCAULEY (18) (N. EKMAN, A. KOROLYUK), 17:56
1st period - S.J, K. MCLAREN, 04:33 - Hooking L.A, S. AVERY, 08:49 - Misconduct (10 min) L.A, S. AVERY, 08:49 - Cross check
2nd period - NONE
3rd period - S.J, J. MARSHALL, 01:22 - Roughing S.J, A. KOROLYUK, 02:30 - Hooking S.J, N. DIMITRAKOS, 07:08 - Hooking L.A, A. MILLER, 13:13 - Tripping
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 22 22
LA - Chechmanek 24 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 10 7 25
LA 5 4 13 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
LA 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Alyn McCauley
Brad Stuart
The Sharks also secured the 2nd seed in the West with the victory and Colorado's overtime loss to Minnesota. As the standings sit, the Sharks would face the St Louis Blues, who hold the 7th seed in the Western Conference, although they are tied with Edmonton (both teams have 89 points). Nashville could still squeeze into the picture, especially considering that the Oilers only have one game remaining and St Louis has three to play. The Calgary Flames hold the 6th seed, just three points ahead of St Louis with two to play.

This was all irrelevant to the Sharks, who took care of business by outlasting the Kings in a sloppy contest. Alyn McCauley became the 5th Sharks player to record 20 goals this season with a pair of tallies. Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 30th win of the season and notched his ninth shutout of the year.

The Sharks struck for two goals 29 seconds apart midway through the 2nd period then held on for their 42nd win of the season.

McCauley opened the scoring with a goal at 10:10 of the middle stanza by tapping in a rebound after Alexander Korolyuk tried jamming a shot past Kings goaltender Roman Chechmanek. Korolyuk tried busting in on the right post, but he couldn't get the puck past the Kings netminder. All McCauley had to do was tap in the puck as it trickled across the crease to the opposite post.

Niko Dimitrakos followed up less than 30 seconds later with his ninth goal of the season. Brad Stuart made a nice centering pass as he crossed his own blueline, catching the Kings defense off guard. Dimitrakos took the bullet just outside the Kings blueline before racing in on Chechmanek and snapping a wrist shot top shelf.

The Kings had a chance to cut into the Sharks lead early in the 3rd period when Jason Marshall and Korolyuk took penalties a minute apart. The Sharks penalty killers buckled down and refused to let the Kings even get a shot off.

McCauley would add an empty netter late in the game after Kings head coach Andy Murray pulled Chechmanek with just over two minutes to play in regulation.

"You're always looking for something different to motivate yourselves. We could finish second overall in the league," he said. "We certainly did not set out for this at the beginning of the year, but once you get yourself in a position, we went on the attack." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson

"We've surprised a lot of people and even ourselves a little bit. Especially coming off last year and not making the playoffs by a fair bit. We thought we had a good team coming into training camp, but we exceeded expectations. Nobody thought we would be battling for first." - Kyle McLaren

"The bottom line when you are a kid and you dream of playing in the NHL, if somebody would say to you you're going to play the last three games with the L.A. Kings even though they are not in the playoffs, you would play all out. You would give everything that you have. I think that is where we have to be as a team." - Luc Robitaille

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