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Sharks win on rare Goc goal
S.J. leapfrogs Vancouver
4/5/06 - by Mike Lee

The Western Conference playoff musical chairs game continued on Wednesday night, with the Sharks moving back into a playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. San Jose overcame a sluggish start and generated just enough offense to beat one of the teams they're trying to catch in the race for one of the conference's eight playoff seeds.

Joe Thornton and Marcel Goc scored to lift the Sharks, who tied the Vancouver Canucks with their 87th point of the season. San Jose has two fewer wins than the Canucks, but they've also played two fewer games. Their statistical advantage has them ahed of the Canucks in the standings, but that would be trumped by the games won total which is the first tie breaker after every team has completed their 82 game schedule.

San Jose found a way to win on Wednesday despite going 0-for-8 on the power play. Five of those man advantage situations came in the 2nd period.

"When you're on the power play you get the momentum rolling for you, even when you don't score," Avs forward Ian Laperriere said. "You drain the guys who are killing penalties."

The power play fest allowed the Sharks to set a tempo, which eventually resulted in Thornton's goal with 2:30 left in the middle period. The Sharks had been peppering Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj for the majority of the period when an odd-man advantage on a Sharks rush finally allowed Thornton and his linemates to cash in.

Skating in on Budaj 2-on-1, Nils Ekman fired a shot of the Colorado goaltender's pad. Thornton scooped up the rebound and wristed his 27th goal of the season into a wide-open net.

"That second period, as much time as we spent in our own zone, it was tough to generate things," Avs defenseman Rob Blake said.

Colorado had offense issues as well, only scoring on a fluke Andrew Brunette goal midway through the opening period. Brunette threw the puck at the net, which found its intended target by way of Vesa Toskala's mask.

Toskala would go the rest of the evening without surrendering any follow up goals, even though he was pressed during a wild scrum in front of his net in the 3rd period.

Goc gave the Sharks the lead with his first goal in 50 games, dating back to last December. The young German winger was trolling in the slot while his linemates turned up the heat on Budaj. Much like Thornton's goal, a deflection kicked out to Goc, who buried his shot from 15 feet out.

"He scores the winner in here all the time," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said after the game.

Wilson was referring to Goc's game winning goal during the Sharks semi-final clinching win over the Avalanche back in 2004.

"I think this is a big win for us, we're coming down to it, so we are tied for eighth now, and this was a huge character win," Sharks forward Mark Smith said.

Smith was a force on the forecheck all evening, including in the game winning play. His hustle behind the net forced Budaj to make a pass which would be intercepted by Patrick Rissmiller. Rissmiller would then take the shot that eventually ended up on Goc's stick.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 1 2
COL 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, Colorado, Brunette 23 (Hejduk, Sakic), 12:24.
2nd period - 2, San Jose, J.Thornton 27 (Ekman, Cheechoo), 17:30.
3rd period - 3, San Jose, Goc 8 (Rissmiller), 2:48.
1st period - Ekman, SJS (goalie interference), 0:11; Clark, COL (hooking), 8:06; Turgeon, COL (hooking), 19:50.
2nd period - Skrastins, COL (hooking), 1:01; Clark, COL (hooking), 5:43; Sakic, COL (holding), 8:17; Ehrhoff, SJS (holding), 12:32; bench, COL, served by Boughner (too many men), 13:51; Turgeon, COL (interference), 19:18.
3rd period - Brunette, COL (interference), 14:11.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 26 25
COL - Budaj 32 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 14 10 32
COL 11 7 8 26
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 8
COL 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Marcel Goc
Vesa Toskala
Joe Thornton
Referees: Dan Marouelli, Brad Meier. Linesmen: Darren Gibbs, Jay Sharrers.

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