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Offense flat in SO loss to Blues
SJ treats fans to a lump of coal
12/23/05 - by Mike Lee

Playing for the second consecutive day, the Sharks fatigue exposed itself against arguably one of the worst teams in the league on Friday night. A late goal by Nils Ekman resuscitated San Jose, but the Sharks forward flubbed during a shootout, allowing the Blues to escape with a 2-1 win. A noble effort by Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was squandered by a lack of offense and continued ineptitude in the shootout.

Nabokov turned aside 27 of 28 Blues shots, including a blind kick save late in regulation after a shot bounced off his chest and sat unnoticed on the edge of the crease. Two Blues players crashed in on Nabokov, who threw his left skate out at the last instant to stone a scoring attempt.

San Jose lost 2-1 the night before in Phoenix, and the back-to-back games played an obvious role in the Sharks sluggishness on Friday. Ryan Johnson gave the Blues a 1-0 lead midway through the 3rd period while killing off a Mark Raycroft tripping penalty. Johnson converted on a give-and-go with Jamal Myers after the Sharks coughed up the puck in the offensive zone.

"We just didn't have the energy to get anything going," coach Ron Wilson said. "It was a struggle all night. We weren't generating any shots, especially in the third period."

St Louis looked as if they would walk away with a 1-0 win before Ekman converted with 1:04 left in regulation. Mark Smith setup the play by working the puck behind the Blues goal, before slipping a centering pass to Ekman in the slot. Ekman one-timed a shot past goaltender Jason Bacashihua to knot the game.

"I didn't look at the clock until after they scored," Bacashihua said with a smile. "I saw there was 1:04 on the clock and all I could do is shake my head. It was a bang-bang play and they did a good job."

San Jose was re-energized in the overtime period, but they couldn't generate any shots directed on net. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson made an interesting decision late in the overtime when he pulled the Joe Thornton - Jonathan Cheechoo line off the ice after a short shift. Wilson replaced them with younger players Marcel Goc, Grant Stevenson and Doug Murray.

The line tried to force things in the offensive zone and ended up handing the Blues an opportunity to end things with a nail biting sequence at the opposite end of the ice.

After Doug Weight gave the Blues the shootout advantage, Bacashihua stopped a weak backhand attempt by Joe Thornton and a Patrick Marleau shot to setup a win, but Cheechoo inched a shot over the goal line to move the shootout to sudden death.

Petr Cajanek converted by lifting the puck past Nabokov's right pad, then Ekman missed on an awkward attempt to end things.

"I just tried to be calm," Cajanek said. "I was lucky to score. I saw him standing there and took a chance."

"He won the game for them, so he had a good game," Ekman said of Bacashihua. "But I don't think we challenged him as much as we could have or should have."


Nabokov's performance was evidence that the Russian Hockey Federation didn't make a mistake when they named the Sharks goaltender to Russia's Olympic roster for the upcoming winter games.

Kyle McLaren skated in the pre-game skate and appears close to returning to the Sharks roster, but missed his fifth consecutive game while he recovers from knee surgery.

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1 2 3 OT SO T
STL 0 0 1 0 1 2
SJ 0 0 1 0 0 1
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, St. Louis, Johnson 2 (Mayers, Salvador), 9:36, (sh). 2, San Jose, Ekman 6 (Smith, Hannan), 18:56. Penalty - Rycroft, STL (tripping), 8:59.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - Round 1 - STL - D. McAmmond - No Goal (0-0) Round 1 - SJ - J. Thornton - No Goal (0-0) Round 2 - STL - D. Weight - Scores (1-0) Round 2 - SJ - P. Marleau - No Goal (1-0) Round 3 - STL - M. Sillinger - No Goal (1-0) Round 3 - SJ - J. Cheechoo - Scores (1-1) Round 4 - STL - P. Cajanek - Scores (2-1) Round 4 - SJ - N. Ekman - No Goal (2-1).
1st period - Poapst, STL (hooking), 0:37; Ekman, SJS (hooking), 3:04; Rycroft, STL minor-major (goalie interference, fighting), 8:05; Gorges, SJS major (fighting), 8:05; Gamache, STL (tripping), 10:38; Jackman, STL (tripping), 16:12.
2nd period - McCauley, SJS (hooking), 15:53.
3rd period - Rycroft, STL (tripping), 8:59.
Overtime - None.
  Shots Saves
STL - Bacashihua 22 21
SJ - Nabokov 28 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
STL 10 10 5 3 28
SJ 10 9 3 0 22
Power Play Conversion
STL 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Jason Bacashihua
Evgeni Nabokov
Ryan Johnson
Referees: Dennis LaRue, Mike Leggo. Linesmen: Andy McElman, Jay Sharrers.

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