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Home opener a speed fest
Sharks finally unleash horses
10/12/05 - by Mike Lee

The new look NHL made its debut in San Jose on Wednesday night and the Sharks treated the sellout crowd of 17,496 at HP Pavilion to an exhibition of speed, which resulted in a 4-1 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Wayne Primeau scored two goals and Evgeni Nabokov held a shutout into the 3rd period to lead the Sharks to their second win of the season. The wide open Sharks offense peppered Blue Jackets goaltender Marc Denis with 22 shots in the 2nd period. Scott Thornton and Marco Sturm also scored for the 2-2-0 Sharks.

Opening night energy fueled the Sharks to a 2-0 1st period lead on Sturm's second goal of the season and Primeau's first, but a feeding frenzy in the middle stanza had the crowd buzzing. Denis was hung out to dry by his defense in a one minute span, which saw San Jose throw two duplicate series that both ended in goals. Thornton converted at 11:09 after Scott Hannan, Nils Ekman and Alyn McCauley put rapid fire shots on goal.

Denis managed to stop the first three shots, but Thornton proved to be the back breaker. A minute later Primeau started another shooting gallery sequence that involved Jonathan Cheechoo and Rob Davison, and ended with Primeau bouncing a shot off the post and burying the final attempt with a backhand shot over a fallen Denis.

"We had a lot of breakdowns and gave them a lot of scoring chances," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "They have great speed, but we're very capable. To get outplayed like that in the second period was disappointing. They had nine shots on the two goals, and you can't let that happen in the NHL."

Sturm opened the game's scoring early in the opening period with a blast that Denis slowed down, but failed to control. The puck bounced over Denis and trickled over the goal line after Sturm was setup on a partial breakaway chance. Patrick Marleau setup the goal with a centering pass while the two raced up the ice, with only a single defender to beat.

It's been 17 months since the Sharks defeat to the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference Finals, so the pent up frustration in the fans was unleashed in the form of an electric crowd. That vibe certainly helped the Sharks jump all over the Blue Jackets.

"That's as loud an opening night as I've ever heard anywhere," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said. "They provided a lot of excitement, and I hope we reciprocated with the same kind of energy on the ice. (The fans) are really going to enjoy the new NHL with the speed and the emphasis on offense. It's a fun game to coach with the weapons we have."

Primeau extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 by stuffing in a rebound after Denis failed to control a Cheechoo shot.

"There were too many rebounds," Columbus defenseman Radoslav Suchy said. "We had a couple of chances and didn't score, and then they jumped on us. They had four guys getting to the puck on shots. They have a lot of speed, and it was hard to hold them. We couldn't get back in time."

Nabokov would surrender his shutout with just over 8 minutes remaining in regulation when Suchy fired a shot from the point through traffic.


Forward Marcel Goc had to be helped off the ice after taking a shot off his right knee late in the 3rd period.

San Jose failed to convert on a 90 second 5-on-3 in the 2nd period.

The Sharks power play failed to convert on eight chances.

Face off woes also continue for San Jose, which converted on only 40%.

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1 2 3 T
CBJ 0 0 1 1
SJ 2 2 0 4
1st period - 1, San Jose, Sturm 2 (Marleau, Michalek), 6:14. 2, San Jose, Primeau 1 (Cheechoo, Smith), 7:24.
2nd period - 3, San Jose, Thornton 1 (Ekman, McCauley), 11:09. 4, San Jose, Primeau 2 (Cheechoo, Davison), 12:10.
3rd period - 5, Columbus, Suchy 1 (Malhotra, Foote), 11:41.
1st period - Richardson, CLB (delay of game), 2:00; Hulse, CLB (holding), 3:59; Fahey, SJS (hooking), 3:59; Hrdina, CLB (hooking), 8:21; McLaren, SJS (boarding), 10:50; Stuart, SJS (delay of game), 15:51; Nabokov, SJS (, served by Michalek (interference)), 18:46
2nd period - Richardson, CLB (high-sticking), 2:07; Chimera, CLB (roughing), 4:21; Fahey, SJS (roughing), 4:21; Richardson, CLB (boarding), 7:49; Hulse, CLB (tripping), 8:17; Wright, CLB (interference), 13:07; Smith, SJS (tripping), 14:09; Westcott, CLB (cross checking), 14:50
3rd period - Bench, CLB (, served by Zherdev (too many men)), 2:39; Sturm, SJS (tripping), 4:50; McLaren, SJS double minor (high-sticking), 12:40
  Shots Saves
CBJ - Denis 36 32
SJ - Nabokov2726
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CBJ 12 5 10 27
SJ 11 22 3 36
Power Play Conversion
CBJ 0 of 6
SJ 0 of 8
3 Stars of the Game
Wayne Primeau
Scott Thornton
Evgeni Nabokov
Referees: Mike Leggo, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Jonny Murray, Vaughan Rody.

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