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Sharks find legs in win
SJ returns home after east coast swing
1/16/06 - by Mike Lee

So much for all the belly-aching about being fatigued after the Sharks most recent road trip. San Jose outworked the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning for three periods and skated to an easy 3-1 victory at HP Pavilion on Monday evening. The Sharks made it back into San Jose in the wee hours of Sunday morning and had the disadvantage of playing a Lightning team that has only played one game in the last eight days.

San Jose returned to the win column after having their five-game win streak snapped by the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Weather caused delays in the Sharks return to the Bay Area, and the rigors of a lengthy road trip to face Eastern Conference opposition takes its toll. Monday's affair with the lightning also started early (5:00pm) to accommodate national television).

"This was when your youth can be to your advantage, and it was for us," Sharks head coach RonWilson said. "Tampa Bay flew across the country, too, but we are the ones who should be used to it. They looked sluggish at times, and we took advantage of that."

Milan Michalek, Kyle McLaren and Nils Ekman scored goals for the Sharks, who gained on Dallas, Anaheim and Phoenix in the standings on Monday. League assist leader Joe Thornton also added a pair of assists to help propel the Sharks over the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Michalek roofed a blast from the slot on a drop pass from Patrick Marleau midway through the 1st period to open the scoring. The shot seemed to fool Lightning goaltender Sean Burke, who made 22 saves on the night.

San Jose outshot Tampa Bay 11-3 in the 2nd period, clearly controlling the tempo of play. Burke kept the Lightning close by stopping all but one of those shots in the period. Only McLaren's blast from the high slot got past the Lightning netminder.

"If it hadn't been for Burke, we would have been embarrassed," Lightning head coach John Tortorella said after the game. "We should be embarrassed."

Brad Richards made things interesting in the final period, by scoring his 13th goal of the season on a fluke bounce with just over eight minutes to play.

Ekman sealed the Sharks win, with a pretty goal with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. The Sharks winger took a pass from Thornton along the right win boards, then steamed past a defender and sailed in on Burke. The Lightning netminder never had a chance against the uncontested shot from Ekman.

"We're not where we want to be, but we've got some games in hand and we're picking up our game," said Ekman. "We're confident, and we think we're on the right track. We're playing the way we should have from the start."

The fatigue that Sharks were worried about turned out to affect the Lightning more than San Jose.

"I couldn't get my legs going," Tampa Bay center Tim Taylor said. "I felt terrible. We practiced very well (Sunday), too. We didn't have our legs at all. When they got up by two, it was hard to get through them. It's disappointing, but we have to find answers."

Vesa Toskala stopped 21 shots to earn his 5th straight victory. Regular starter Evgeni Nabokov was givent eh night off to rest his groin. Nolan Schaefer was recalled from Cleveland to serve as Toskala's backup.

Notes:

There were only five penalties called during the game. san Jose was whsitled for two infractions, both coming in the 3rd period.

The Sharks finished 9-1 against Eastern Conference Teams this season.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
TB 0 0 1 1
SJ 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, San Jose, Michalek 7 (Marleau), 13:34. Penalty - Kubina, TAM (boarding), 13:41.
2nd period - 2, San Jose, McLaren 2 (J.Thornton, Cheechoo), 12:28.
3rd period - 3, Tampa Bay, Richards 13 (Milley), 11:08. 4, San Jose, Ekman 10 (J.Thornton), 18:06.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Prospal, TAM (hooking), 2:32; Modin, TAM (interference), 17:46.
3rd period - Dimitrakos, SJS (hooking), 1:21; Preissing, SJS (hooking), 18:50.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
TB - Burke 25 22
SJ - Toskala 22 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
TB 9 3 10 22
SJ 4 11 10 25
Power Play Conversion
TB 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Vesa Toskala
Milan Michalek
Joe Thornton
Attendence
17,107
Officials
Referees: Greg Kimmerly, Steve Kozari. Linesmen: Ryan Galloway, Don Henderson.

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