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Special teams turnaround in Game 2
SJ scores three PP goals
4/23/06 - by Mike Lee

The two things the Sharks figured they'd have to shore up after losing the first game of their Western Conference match up to the Nashville Predators, were reducing the number of penalties committed and tightening up on the penalty-kill when they were penalized. So much for reducing the number of penalties committed. No matter, because their smothering penalty-kill stymied the Predators on nine different infractions, including a third period 5-on-3 en route to a 3-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon.

It was a complete about-face from their Game 1 loss when they surrendered four power play goals, including therein the opening period. San Jose turned the tide and scored three power play goals themselves in the 1st period, knotting the series at 1-1.

The Sharks took advantage of two different 5-on-3 three opportunities to secure all the offense they would need to control the game. San Jose exploited the Predators inability to heed a warning that officials would not relax penalty calls because it was a playoff game.

With Mike Sillinger already in the box for high sticking, Danny Markov took a lazy hooking penalty to setup the Sharks first goal five minutes into the contest. On the ensuing two-man advantage, Jonathan Cheechoo netted his first goal of the playoffs.

Nashville learned little from that initial scoring sequence, because they would offer up another two-man advantage later in the period. Brendan Witt kicked things off with a holding penalty at 15:15, then Jerred Smithson was sent off a minute later when he tried taking Joe Thornton out with a knee.

Wilson called a timeout to give Thornton a chance to test out the knee and settle the rest of his bench. It turned out to be a key moment in the game. San Jose converted 15 seconds after Smithson was sent off, when Patrick Marleau fired a clearing attempt past Chris Mason after a wild scrum in front of the Predators net.

Since the Sharks scored before either Witt or Smitson's penalties expired, only Witt was allowed to exit the box. The Sharks would make the Predators pay a minute later when Jonathan Cheechoo found Mark Smith with a cross-ice pass that Smith one-timed a bomb past Mason.

It didn't help Nashville that a defenseman lost his stick on the play, but you could have driven a bus through the passing lane that Cheechoo had to setup the goal.

Nashville certainly had their own opportunities on the man-advantage, but they could do nothing with those chances. After allowing Paul Kariya to run wild on the power play in Game 1, the Sharks put a clamp on the Predators forward.

San Jose sent five men to the penalty box in the 3rd period, which gave Nashville an opportunity to get back in the game, but Vesa Toskala stopped all 10 shots in the period. He would turn aside all 25 shots in the game to record his first career playoff shutout.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 3 0 0 3
NAS 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, San Jose, Cheechoo 1 (Marleau, Preissing), 5:37, (pp). 2, San Jose, Marleau 1 (Ekman, Cheechoo), 16:31, (pp). 3, San Jose, Smith 2 (Cheechoo, Ehrhoff), 17:31, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Legwand, NAS (high-sticking), 1:37; Thornton, SJS (roughing), 2:41; Sillinger, NAS (high-sticking), 4:26; Markov, NAS (hooking), 4:47; Marleau, SJS (hooking), 10:04; Witt, NAS (holding), 15:15; Smithson, NAS (kneeing), 16:16.
2nd period - Thornton, SJS (goaltender interference), 4:46; Legwand, NAS (hooking), 6:18; Ehrhoff, SJS (cross-checking), 8:59; Witt, NAS (interference), 11:53; Eaton, NAS (hooking), 14:10; Hartnell, NAS (roughing), 19:13.
3rd period - Thornton, SJS (holding), 1:24; McLaren, SJS (interference), 6:07; Michalek, SJS (interference), 9:30; Nieminen, SJS, minor-misconduct (interference), 10:02; Weber, NAS (holding), 15:50; Gorges, SJS (tripping), 19:02.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 25 25
NAS - Mason 37 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 15 11 11 37
NAS 7 8 10 25
Power Play Conversion
SJ 3 of 10
NAS 0 of 9
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Patrick Marleau
Vesa Toskala
Referees: Bill McCreary, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Vaughan Rody, Jay Sharrers.

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