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PP erupts in first game back
SJ sets franchise record with 5 PPG
2/28/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks returned to action following the Olympic break on Tuesday night, taking advantage of a depleted Detroit Red Wings squad, who played without five regulars. They'll need to take full advantage of every opportunity that their opponents offer up as they chase a playoff spot with 29 games remaining in the regular season. San Jose set a franchise record in a 5-1 win over the visiting Red Wings, by scoring all five goals on the power play.

Blowing out a team like the Red Wings needs to be enjoyed with guarded enthusiasm. Skating without Niklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg, all Swedish gold medalists, the Red Wings were not the same team who had reeled off six straight wins before the break or the team with the best record in the league.

The Sharks did what they needed to do in order to stay in the playoff hunt. They dominated the opening period, controlling the flow for the entire 20 minutes. Red Wings Manny Legace kept Detroit close, allowing only a Nils Ekman goal.

"For any team it's tough if you take five key guys out of the lineup," Legace said. "That's no excuse, no excuse at all. We were in the game until the 10-minute mark. I've just got to make saves on penalty kills. I didn't tonight and it cost us.'

The pace would continue into the middle period and the Sharks capitalized. Joe Thornton setup Jonathan Cheechoo's 35th goal of the season with a highlight reel move on Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja. Skating at the bottom of the left circle toward the net, Thornton faked a move to his left, baiting Lilja with the puck, then cut back to his right before firing a pass across the slot to Cheechoo on the off post.

"They were obviously missing five key players and we're trying to gain that final playoff spot," Thornton said. "We need every win, every game. I hope we make the playoffs and face them again."

Rookie Brett Lebda cut the Sharks lead to 2-1 late in the period to keep Detroit close. Lebda's goal was the only blemish on Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala's evening.

The one reminder of the Sharks nagging woes was a failed penalty shot attempt by Ekman seven minutes into the 3rd period. Ekman was hauled down by Jason Williams after taking a pass at center ice after stepping out of the penalty box. Legace stoned Ekman after the Sharks winger tried a series of wide sweeping turns on the ensuing penalty shot.

Having already converted on two power play chances, the Sharks carved up the Red Wings during a span of 3:12 midway through the period.

Patrick Marleau scored his 26th of the season on a tap in after Ekman sent a shot on net at 10:36. Christian Ehrhoff, fresh off his Olympic stint with Team Germany, cranked home his second goal of the season with a blast from the blueline after Brendan Shanahan was sent off for tripping.

"It's important to get back on a good roll," Ehrhoff said. "We know we're good and we're still developing. We just need to go into those games and keep winning."

Thornton capped his four-point evening with a goal of his own on a wrist shot from the left dot.

"It's disappointing," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They found a way to shoot it into the net, and we weren't as good."

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1 2 3 T
DET 0 1 0 1
SJ 1 1 3 5
1st period - 1, San Jose, Ekman 15 (J.Thornton, Cheechoo), 3:34, (pp).
2nd period - 2, San Jose, Cheechoo 35 (J.Thornton, Marleau), 6:54, (pp). 3, Detroit, Lebda 3 (Shanahan, Datsyuk), 18:29.
3rd period - 4, San Jose, Marleau 26 (Ekman, J.Thornton), 10:36, (pp). 5, San Jose, Ehrhoff 2 (Marleau, Cheechoo), 11:41, (pp). 6, San Jose, J.Thornton 22 (Ehrhoff, Preissing), 13:48, (pp).
1st period - Ehrhoff, SJS (holding), 0:18; Kopecky, DET (tripping), 2:23; Murray, SJS (holding), 18:34.
2nd period - Chelios, DET (interference), 5:43; Maltby, DET (hooking), 6:26; S.Thornton, SJS (hooking), 7:01; Williams, DET (hooking), 8:16; Lilja, DET (high-sticking), 13:35.
3rd period - Woolley, DET (hooking), 4:50; Ekman, SJS (hooking), 4:57; McLaren, SJS (holding), 6:56; Schneider, DET (holding), 10:17; Shanahan, DET (tripping), 11:10; Mowers, DET (roughing), 12:46; Bernier, SJS (roughing), 12:46; Shanahan, DET (slashing), 12:58; Murray, SJS (boarding), 15:41; Preissing, SJS (holding), 17:09; Draper, DET (slashing), 19:11.
  Shots Saves
DET - Legace 32 27
SJ - Toskala 29 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DET 7 7 15 29
SJ 11 10 11 32
Power Play Conversion
DET 0 of 6
SJ 5 of 10
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Patrick Marleau
Jonathan Cheechoo
Referees: Tom Kowal, Dean Warren. Linesmen: Brian Mach, Vaughan Rody.

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