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Sharks finally tame Coyotes
Preissing bags winner in OT
2/12/06 - by Mike Lee

The on again, off again saga that has been the Sharks season took another turn amid the Wayne Gretzky circus on Sunday night, with the Sharks beating the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 in overtime. Buried in the media circus created by allegations of Gretzky's involvement with a gambling ring, was the fact the Sharks won their third game in a row, pulling them to within six points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The game also marked the last NHL game to be played for the next two weeks, while the Olympic games are held in Italy.

Given the streakiness of San Jose's play this season, the Olympic break couldn't have come at a more inopportune time. By knocking off Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix in succession, the Sharks stay within striking distance of a playoff spot.

San Jose needed an extra two minutes to get the job done in Glendale on Sunday night, but the results were still in line with their previous two games.

Tom Preissing uncorked a one-timer that split Curtis Joseph's pads right after a penalty to former Sharks Mike Ricci expired in the extra session to cap a back and forth game. Phoenix tied the game four times after San Jose jumped out to one goal leads. Joe Thornton setup Preissing with a centering pass after drawing a Coyotes defender away from Preissing's shooting lane.

"It's a credit to our first unit," Preissing said. "We were just kinda out there to sweep it up a bit, and Joe stayed out a little longer and made a really nice play. He does a great job of drawing guys to him and I just happened to be on the receiving end."

The assist capped a three point night for Thornton, who also opened the game's scoring with a power play tally in the 2nd period, and another assist on a Nils Ekman 3rd period goal that had given the Sharks a 3-2 lead.

"It was obviously a huge advantage going into overtime knowing we had the power play and the game basically was in our hands at that point," Preissing said.

Trying to fight their way out of a funk, partially influenced by the Gretzky issue, the Coyotes clawed their way into the extra session on goals from Fredrik Sjostrom, Dave Scatchard, Jamie Lundmark and Steve Reinprecht.

Reinprecht's scored with 3:42 remaining regulation on a delay-penalty to San Jose. The Sharks may have won the game in regulation had officials whistled the sequence dead after Alyn McCauley appeared to gain control of the puck. Referees Greg Kimmerly and Brad Meier both swallowed their whistles and the Coyotes converted seconds later.

Sharks captain Patrick Marleau scored a pair of goals, including a nifty tally on a feed from rookie Steve Bernier. Marleau did nothing more than tap in Bernier's feed, which came from the back of the net on a backhand pass.

"We had confidence going into overtime that we were going to win the game in regulation," Thornton said. "We've had our problems against these guys. We addressed before the game that they always play us hard and we can't take them granted."

Nils Ekman scored his 14th goal of the season on a great effort by his linemates Thorton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Thornton knocked a Coyote off the puck after a chase to the corner, before Cheechoo threw a shot at Joseph. Ekman scooped up the rebound and held it long enough to pick a spot over the fallen Coyotes netminder.

"We had some big goals to keep tying it up but we needed to find a way to get that lift and to get the one to get the lead," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. "We never managed to get the lead."

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1 2 3 OT T
SJ 0 2 2 1 5
PHO 0 1 3 0 4
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, San Jose, J.Thornton 21 (Ekman), 6:52, (pp). 2, Phoenix, Sjostrom 4 (Sanderson), 8:16. 3, San Jose, Marleau 24 (Bernier, Gorges), 11:17.
3rd period - 4, Phoenix, Scatchard 12 (Johnson, Devereaux), 0:12. 5, San Jose, Ekman 14 (Cheechoo, J.Thornton), 7:47. 6, Phoenix, Lundmark 6 (Gauthier, Michalek), 9:55. 7, San Jose, Marleau 25 (Ehrhoff, Ekman), 15:02, (pp). 8, Phoenix, Reinprecht 11 (Doan, Sanderson), 16:18.
Overtime - 9, San Jose, Preissing 7 (J.Thornton, McLaren), 1:54.
1st period - None.
2nd period - Goc, SJS (hooking), 3:57; Johnson, PHO (closing hand on puck), 6:21; Devereaux, PHO (hooking), 11:43.
3rd period - Sanderson, PHO (hooking), 3:46; Saprykin, PHO (hooking), 14:16; Ricci, PHO (hooking), 19:49.
Overtime - Ricci, PHO misconduct, 1:54.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 38 34
PHO - Joseph 24 19
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 6 10 7 1 24
PHO 9 13 16 0 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 5
PHO 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Tom Preissing
Joe Thornton
Referees: Greg Kimmerly, Brad Meier. Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Darren Gibbs.

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