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3rd period disaster sinks SJ
Goaltending atrocious in loss
12/28/05 - by Mike Lee

Wayne Gretzky's return to the bench grabbed the hockey media spotlight on Wednesday night. The Sharks obliged Gretzky by losing to his Phoenix Coyotes, making the story more fitting. Masked in all the drama was the fact that the Sharks imploded in the 3rd period and coughed up two points to a division foe. Phoenix scored four goals in a 2:58 span to emphasize the fact that the Sharks are as discombobulated as ever, and in need of a shakeup.

Problem is, the Joe Thornton trade was supposed to be that shakeup. Don't let the 5-4 score fool you. This was as bad a loss as they come. Holding a 2-1 lead entering the final period, the Sharks found every way possible to lose.

Bad penalties, dumb penalties, poor positioning, the list goes on. With the offense continuing to sputter, the goaltending decided to get into the act. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov gave up every type of goal imaginable.

"We have to learn to play with a lead and go for the next one," said Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. "We have tons of chances. It shouldn't have to come down to the final 10 minutes. We ran into penalty trouble. It shouldn't take us a couple of quick goals for us to get back into it."

After Jonathan Cheechoo staked the Sharks to a 1-0 lead in the first period, Nabokov surrendered all the Sharks momentum by allowing Shane Doan to score on a shot from the left corner of the rink with ten seconds remaining in the period. Doan squeezed a shot from the end line, bouncing it off Nabokov's left pad to tie the game at 1-1.

Grant Stevenson would give the Sharks a 2-1 lead 3:13 into the 2nd period on a put back while the Sharks were on the power play. San Jose was out-shooting the Coyotes 23-16 through two periods and seemed to have the game under control, until Cheechoo started the snowball rolling.

He would take an interference penalty at the end of the period, which gave the Coyotes a power play for 1:56 to open the 3rd period. 36 seconds into that penalty kill, Nabokov inexplicably decided to stick handle the puck six feet into the trapezoid. He was whistled for delay-of-game, which setup the Coyotes with 1:20 of 5-on-3 power play time.

Derek Morris would score on a deflection right as Cheechoo's penalty was about to expire. To add insult to injury, Kyle McLaren was called for a delayed boarding penalty, which resulted in another 5-on-3 for Phoenix.

Doan would convert on another deflection to give the Coyotes a 3-2 lead. Nabokov would break his team's back with a horrible goal less then a minute later. Oleg Saprykin fired the puck into the Sharks zone from the blueline as the Coyotes mounted a charge. With Nabokov taking a high line to defend the rush, the puck bounced off the end boards and pin-balled off Nabokov's skate and into the net.

Mike Johnson would deflect a Paul Mara shot from the bottom of the left circle and into virtually an open net after Nabokov was caught out of position at 4:44 to cap the bloody stretch of Phoenix goals.

"The penalties started the problems, and I fell apart," Nabokov said. "We have to get better. We all fell apart out there in key situations. Penalties cost us games in Los Angeles (on Monday night) and here."

Nils Ekman and Milan Michalek would score later in the period, but the Sharks couldn't muster the tying score over the last nine minutes of regulation. Phoenix goaltender Brian Boucher took a delay of game penalty himself with three minutes to play, but the Sharks failed to capitalize.

"I really think they came at us pretty hard, and they've got a lot of skilled players," Gretzky said. "Our power play scored big goals, and then we played smart in the last 4-5 minutes. It was a great win."

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1 2 3 T
PHO 1 0 4 5
SJ 1 1 2 4
1st period - 1, San Jose, Cheechoo 19, 2:34, (pp). 2, Phoenix, Doan 10 (Nagy), 19:50.
2nd period - 3, San Jose, Stevenson 6 (Hannan, Michalek), 3:13, (pp).
3rd period - 4, Phoenix, Morris 2 (Nagy, Johnson), 1:46, (pp). 5, Phoenix, Lundmark 6 (Doan, Morris), 2:47, (pp). 6, Phoenix, Saprykin 6 (Scatchard, Gauthier), 3:42. 7, Phoenix, Johnson 11 (Mara, Sanderson), 4:44. 8, San Jose, Ekman 7 (Thornton, Cheechoo), 6:58. 9, San Jose, Michalek 6 (Stevenson, McLaren), 10:36.
1st period - O'Donnell, PHO (holding), 1:48; Dimitrakos, SJS (holding), 6:27; Hannan, SJS (interference), 15:54.
2nd period - Scatchard, PHO (high-sticking), 0:37; Sjostrom, PHO (tripping), 2:41; Nagy, PHO (hooking), 3:13; Dimitrakos, SJS (hooking), 9:22; Fahey, SJS (interference), 17:35; Cheechoo, SJS (interference), 19:56.
3rd period - Nabokov, SJS, served by Ekman (delay of game), 0:36; McLaren, SJS (boarding), 1:46; Boucher, PHO, served by Lundmark (delay of game), 16:54.
  Shots Saves
PHO - Boucher 34 30
SJ - Nabokov 24 19
SJ - Toskala 2 2
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHO 8 8 10 26
SJ 10 13 11 34
Power Play Conversion
PHO 2 of 7
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Shane Doan
Ladislav Nagy
Derek Morris
Referees: Shane Heyer, Rob Martell. Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Vaughan Rody.

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