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Cheechoo Train hits milestone
First career hat trick paces Sharks
12/20/05 - by Mike Lee

What a difference a month makes. Sloppy play and a motivated opponent meant doom and gloom for the Sharks earlier this season. Now San Jose is converting on enough chances to walk away with victories. In what was one of their sloppiest games of the season, the Sharks bounced back to avenge a loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on Tuesday at HP Pavilion. Jonathan Cheechoo recorded his first career hat trick to power the Sharks to a 4-2 win over the visiting Ducks.

And the sloppiness wasn't limited to the players. Questionable calls all night long had both teams incensed with the officiating. Luckily for San Jose, they were able to cash in when given the upper hand by referees Kelly Sutherland and Brad Watson.

"We got the upper hand quick, they did a lot of complaining and then all of a sudden we had five penalties in a row," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said. "That kind of threw us off our game, and now we don't know what's a penalty and what's not. ... They cheat on every faceoff, and they killed us tonight."

Anaheim was first to pay the price. With Chris Kunitz in the box for an interference penalty, Jonathan Hedstrom was sent off on the ensuing face-off for delay of game. Hedstrom was whistled for coming into contact with Joe Thornton before the puck was dropped. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson had complained that the Ducks were using the illegal face-off tactic as a way to gain an advantage in the faceoff circle, and the referees agreed.

Cheechoo would convert on the resulting 5-on-3, by banging home a rebound from in close. Cheechoo's line-mate, Joe Thornton, was credited with an assist on the play.

Scott Parker who returned to the ice for only the second time this season, scored his first goal of the season just as Hedstrom's penalty was expiring to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Mark Smith setup the goal by drawing two defenders into the corner, before floating a centering pass to Parker who was breaking in on the net.

"That's my spot in front of the net, and I just do what I do," quipped Parker, who last scored two years ago.

The Ducks would exact some 5-on-3 revenge with two minutes left in the period after Tom Preissing and Scott Hannan were sent off 35 seconds apart. Petr Sykora rifled a one-timer from 25 feet out, to beat Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

After stumbling through the 2nd period that would to retain a one-goal lead, the Sharks turned the tables on Anaheim with two quick strikes from Cheechoo.

With Parker in the box serving a high sticking penalty, the Ducks allowed Cheechoo to slip past the defense on a breakaway. Keith Carney hauled Cheechoo down in order to thwart Cheechoo's scoring chance. The referees immediately awarded the Sharks a penalty shot, that Cheechoo buried for a 3-1 lead.

30 seconds later Cheechoo intercepted a centering pass at center ice, then split two Anaheim defenders, before snapping home a shot of John-Sebastien Giguere's left shoulder.

"It changed in a hurry," Ducks center Andy McDonald said. "We were on a power play, and next thing you know, it's 4-1."

The Ducks let their frustrations with the officiating during and after the game. Teemu Selanne had a lengthy discussion with Sutherland at center ice as rink workers scooped up hats that had been tossed onto the ice in celebration of Cheechoo's milestone.

"I think if the referees would call it like they would normally, like they should be -- they get paid for doing this -- he would never get the penalty shot and never get the breakaway," Selanne said of Cheechoo's scores. "That was the turning point. They got a 3-1 lead, and then I can't understand it. They've got two referees, and they can't call it."

Selanne would cut the lead to 4-2 with a goal at the 13:18 mark, but Nabokov came up big on several last minute attempts to pull the Ducks back into the game.

"We actually didn't get very many good scoring chances, so Cheech did a good job to get the most out of it," Nabokov said. "We had two big chances in the third, and he got us the game."


The biggest play of the game may have been the one that didn't happen in the 2nd period. Clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Sharks were forced to kill of a four-minute penalty to Nils Ekman who had clipped Todd Marchant with a high stick.

Mark Smith fought to a draw with Zenon Konopka after the Sharks jumped out to their 2-0 lead. Konopka attempted to instill some life into his teammates after their horrendous start.

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1 2 3 T
ANA 1 0 1 2
SJ 2 0 2 4
1st period - 1, San Jose, Cheechoo 14 (Preissing, J.Thornton), 2:17, (pp). 2, San Jose, Parker 1 (Smith, Hannan), 3:27. 3, Anaheim, Sykora 7 (S.Niedermayer, Selanne), 18:00, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 4, San Jose, Cheechoo 15, 4:46. 5, San Jose, Cheechoo 16, 5:16. 6, Anaheim, Selanne 17 (Konopka, Fedoruk), 13:18, (pp).
1st period - Hedstrom, ANA (delay of game), 1:25; Kunitz, ANA (interference), 1:25; Konopka, ANA, major (fighting), 3:30; Smith, SJS, major (fighting), 3:30; Parker, SJS (hooking), 10:13; Thornton, SJS (hooking), 12:26; Preissing, SJS (high-sticking), 16:33; Hannan, SJS (cross-checking), 17:08.
2nd period - Stevenson, SJS (hooking), 2:03; Niedermayer, ANA (high-sticking), 10:20; Ekman, SJS, double minor (high-sticking), 12:39.
3rd period - Parker, SJS (high-sticking), 3:01; Ehrhoff, SJS (delay of game), 12:48.
  Shots Saves
ANA - Giguere 18 14
ANA - Bryzgalov 3 3
SJ - Nabokov 35 33
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ANA 12 12 11 35
SJ 11 5 5 21
Power Play Conversion
ANA 2 of 9
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Evgeni Nabokov
Scott Parker
Referees: Kelly Sutherland, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Andy McElman, Tim Nowak.

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