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Sharks take 2-0 lead vs Colorado
Series moves to Denver after SJ wins both at home
4/24/04 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks did a wonderful job of flying under the radar this past regular season, but they're blowing it big time in the playoffs. San Jose dominated the Colorado Avalanche for the second consecutive game, taking a 2-0 advantage in their best-of-seven conference semi-final series with a 4-1 win at HP Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. The hockey world is sure to take notice after the Sharks turned in another full-team press en route to their 6th victory in the playoffs. Four Sharks scored goals, but the entire roster put a defensive clamp on the high octane Colorado offense.

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1 2 3 T
COL 1 0 0 1
SJ 0 2 2 4
1st period - COL, M. HEJDUK (4) (M. BARNABY, P. FORSBERG), 07:01
2nd period - S.J, V. DAMPHOUSSE (2) (P. MARLEAU, N. DIMITRAKOS), 11:14 S.J, P. MARLEAU (7) (N. DIMITRAKOS, V. DAMPHOUSSE), 19:36
3rd period - S.J, J. CHEECHOO (2) (B. STUART), 06:27 S.J, W. PRIMEAU (1) (J. CHEECHOO, M. RICCI), 19:05
1st period - S.J, M. SMITH, 02:44 - Roughing S.J, M. SMITH, 02:44 - Roughing COL, O. VAANANEN, 04:48 - Interference COL, M. BARNABY, 09:50 - Hooking S.J, V. DAMPHOUSSE, 09:53 - Tripping COL, J. SAKIC, 15:43 - Hooking - Obstruction COL, P. FORSBERG, 19:52 - Roughing S.J, S. HANNAN, 19:52 - Roughing
2nd period - COL, P. FORSBERG, 11:05 - Interference COL, P. FORSBERG, 15:02 - Interference - Goaltender
3rd period - COL, J. SAKIC, 05:15 - Boarding S.J, B. STUART, 12:07 - Interference COL, S. KONOWALCHUK, 14:27 - Hi stick
  Shots Saves
COL - Aebischer 23 20
COL - empty net 1 0
SJ - Nabokov 21 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 5 9 7 21
SJ 10 7 7 24
Power Play Conversion
COL 0 of 4
SJ 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Vincent Damphousse
Niko Dimitrakos
Jonathan Cheechoo
Vincent Damphousse, Patrick Marleau and Jonthan Cheechoo each had a goal and an assist to lead San Jose. Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 20 of 21 shots to earn his 4th consecutive victory of the post season (6th overall).

Colorado vowed to turn up the intensity after the 5-2 shellacking they took in game 1, but the Sharks matched them early on. San Jose got an early wake up call when Mathew Barnaby drew Sharks forward Mark Smith into taking a bad 4-minute roughing penalty. The Sharks killed off the double minor, but just having fallen victim to Barnaby's gamesmanship sent the message that Colorado was willing to win at all costs, sportsmanlike or not.

The one lapse the Sharks did commit all afternoon would cost them and give the Avalanche their first lead in the series on Colorado's first shot of the game. San Jose got caught on a line change, allowing Peter Forsberg to spring a break with Barnaby and Milan Hejduk.

Barnaby skated in on Nabokov uncontested before sliding a pass over to Hejduk on the right post. Nabokov was dead to rights without any defensive support and Hejduk buried the pass for a 1-0 Colorado lead just past the seven minute mark.

San Jose actually out-shot Colorado 10-5 in the period, but the Avalanche would take the one goal lead into the dressing room at the first intermission. Both teams would close out the period with matching roughing penalties on Forsberg and Scott Hannan after the two tangled in a face washing dance at 19:52.

The penalty would be the first of three consecutive trips to the box for Forsberg, but it wasn't the costliest. That distinction would be placed on an interference call that he took midway through the 2nd period.

The Sharks would capitalize on Forsberg's misdeed nine seconds later when Damphousse tapped in a deflection after charging toward the net as Marleau threw a shot at Avalanche netminder David Aebischer.

Forsberg would draw his third penalty on what appeared to be a Colorado goal, but the Avalanche star forward was whistled for plowing into Nabokov. Forsberg vehemently argued the call on the way to the box, but referee Rob Shick would have none of it.

The play was made even more painful when Marleau converted on his 7th goal of the playoffs with just 24 seconds remaining in the period. Niko Dimitrakos setup Marleau with his 6th assist this post season, allowing the San Jose to take the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

San Jose would pad its lead after Avalanche captain Joe Sakic was sent off for boarding early in the final period. Cheechoo would convert on one of the craziest goals of the season, when he lifted a shot past Aebischer after taking a cross-ice pass from between his legs. Brad Stuart setup the goal by racing up the left wing boards, then sending a laser to Cheechoo who was draped by two Colorado defenders.

Nabokov stymied Colorado for much of the 3rd period, but he stood on his head during a Colorado power play with seven minutes to play. With Stuart in the box serving an interference penalty, Colorado turned up the heat in an effort to chip away at the Sharks lead. Sakic had the Sharks netminder flat on his back with an open net, but Nabokov stoned the Colorado captain with an unreal save.

Wayne Primeau would ice the game with an empty-net goal after Avalanche head coach Tony Granato was forced to pull Aebischer late in the contest.

Play of the Game
Every news outlet that covers sports across the US and Canada will have Cheechoo's goal on their highlight reels Saturday night. The Sharks forward says he's never practiced the shot before and that it was all "reaction". Given the tight quarters and the angle that he had to work with, the shot was all the more incredible. The on ice officials even phoned the video replay judge because they couldn't believe the puck wasn't kicked in. The review took all of 10 seconds, after replays confirmed Cheechoo's slight of hand miracle.

The Turning Point
Marleau's goal was huge given the timing. Less than a minute remaining in the 2nd period of a 1-1 game and that goal completely changes the complexion of the contest. The goal had to affect Colorado mentally, because Marleau slipped behind the Avalanche defense almost undetected while Dimitrakos was touring the Colorado zone with the puck.

Save of the Game
Cheechoo's goal wasn't the only play that seemed to defy physics on Saturday. Nabokov's save on Sakic in the 3rd period left the Avalanche captain dumbfounded. The puck appeared to lodge itself in Nabokov's jersey up around the top of the right sleeve. Could another goaltender equipment change be on the horizon now that Nabokov has figured out a way to leverage jersey slack to stop pucks?

Box Scores Do No Justice
Aebischer apparently missed his anger management therapy between games 1 and 2, and Scott Thornton was the beneficiary. Thornton, who returned to the Sharks lineup on Saturday, took several shots from Aebischer's blocker after he was hauled into the Colorado goal in the 3rd period. Aebischer didn't take kindly to Thornton setting up camp in the Colorado goal, so he took it upon himself to motivate an early departure by taking a couple of extra cheap shots at Thornton. Aebischer hacked Niko Dimitrakos in the back of the knee with his stick in Game 1 after the Sharks forward bowled over the Avalanche netminder.

Honorable Mention
One of the most noticeable differences in the two teams thus far has been team speed on the ice. San Jose seems to be out skating Colorado to every loose puck, and dictating play in Colorado's zone. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson commented that he's seeing guys that he never thought were fast flying on the ice.

"I think most hockey people know about us. Maybe we don't get all the attention that some teams do, but we're just focused on our goals." - Patrick Marleau

"I don't think I've ever even practiced that. I was just running out of options. Their sticks were in the way, in the way, in the way, and I had to try something." - Jonathan Cheechoo

"We have to win Game 3. We have no choice. We get a little sloppy when things don't go our way, and we have to turn that around. They have the jump on us. We're getting outworked. They're playing with a lot more intensity than we are." - Joe Sakic

"Sometimes you get the calls, but I'm not happy with the way we're playing. We need to take care of things on our home ice. We definitely need to play better. They have outplayed us." - Peter Forsberg

Alex Tanguay returned to Colorado's lineup after missing the series opener with a knee injury. Former Sharks sniper Teemu Selanne was scratched to make room for Tanguay.

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