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Sharks dogged in return home
S.J. loses more ground in playoff race
3/30/06 - by Mike Lee

The odds were not in the Sharks favor entering Thursday night's game against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. For whatever reason, San Jose never seems to find a way to win the first home game after a long road trip. Add the fact that the Coyotes have owned the Sharks this season, and you have a recipe for disaster. One of those factors was probably enough to sink the Sharks, who fell to 5-2 at HP Pavilion.

San Jose continued a disturbing trend of scoring first, then rolling over to a hungrier team that has no business being hungry. Like the loss on Tuesday in Columbus, the Coyotes have little to play for, but they manhandled the Sharks rather easily. They also reeled off three third period goals, like the Blue Jackets did against the Sharks to win handily.

Phoenix didn't have any explanation for the dominance they've shown over San Jose this season.

"How do you figure it?" Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky asked. "There's really no way to put a finger on it, but we've had a couple of games where our goaltenders stole a couple of wins for us, and we've had other games where we played well, but I don't have an answer. All I know is that we've played pretty hard against this team."

Another cause for concern is the fact that the Sharks top line has been silenced yet again. Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Nils Ekman failed to generate any pressure on Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph and the rest is history.

Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier did their part, combining to generate the Sharsk lone bit of offense in the 1st period. After that, the Sharks disappeared for 40 minutes. Holding a 2-1 lead midway through the game, the wheels fell off.

Steve Reiprecht would score the first of two goals at 13:33 of the 2nd period to knot the game at 2-2. Ekman would take a tripping penalty to end the period and Reiprecht would capitalize at the start of the 3rd period with a power play tally.

Mike Johnson would provide some breathing room midway through the period with his 15th of the season, beating Evgeni Nabokov with an unassisted goal on a slapper from 35 feet out after Thornton turned the puck over in his own zone.

"No, it doesn't make any sense why we do so well," Johnson acknowledged. "They have a great team. Somebody (might say) they have a better team than us. There's no magic answer, or we'd be doing it against every team. By no means do we have their number, but something's working."

Mike Comrie would add an empty net goal late.

The Sharks seemed puzzled by the fact that they couldn't sustain the level of energy required to be competitive.

"They were really important points tonight, and we let them slip away," defenseman Scott Hannan said. "We've got to come out with more intensity from the first shift. I haven't played the way I need to play, and I have to step it up."


Center Alyn McCauley sat out with an undisclosed lower-body injury, ending his streak of consecutive games played at 169

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1 2 3 T
PHO 2 0 0 2
SJ 1 1 3 5
1st period - 1, San Jose, Michalek 16 (Bernier), 12:26. 2, Phoenix, Kvasha 13 (Johnson), 13:55. 3, San Jose, Bernier 11 (Michalek, Marleau), 15:56.
2nd period - 4, Phoenix, Reinprecht 17 (Michalek), 13:33.
3rd period - 5, Phoenix, Reinprecht 18 (Doan, Ballard), 1:18, (pp). 6, Phoenix, Johnson 15 (unassisted), 9:57. 7, Phoenix, Comrie 27 (Kvasha, Johnson), 19:29, (en).
1st period - Comrie, PHO (tripping), 6:35; Gratton, PHO, major (fighting), 16:01; Thornton, SJS, major (fighting), 16:01.
2nd period - Spiller, PHO (hooking), 5:00; Thornton, SJS (hooking), 8:40; Morris, PHO (hooking), 11:13; Seidenberg, PHO (tripping), 12:34; Ekman, SJS (interference), 13:01; Saprykin, PHO (hooking), 15:07; Ekman, SJS (tripping), 19:38.
3rd period - Carle, SJS (interference), 2:54; Nash, PHO (hooking), 6:01; Kvasha, PHO (roughing), 9:57; Thornton, SJS (roughing), 9:57.
  Shots Saves
PHO - Joseph 29 27
SJ - Nabokov 27 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHO 7 7 14 28
SJ 9 6 14 29
Power Play Conversion
PHO 1 of 4
SJ 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Steve Reinprecht
Mike Johnson
Curtis Joseph
Referees: Wes McCauley, Chris Rooney. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Jay Sharrers.

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