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Roadtrip rebound
SJ starts trip with shutout
10/23/06 - by Mike Lee

Marc-Edourd Vlassic got the best news of his very short NHL career on Monday, then celebrated by notching his first NHL point in Columbus as the Sharks kicked off their five-game road trip. The Sharks announced that Vlassic would remain with the NHL club, rather then return to his junior team, the Quebec Ramparts, then ended their short lived losing streak with a 3-0 win over the host Blue Jackets.

Vlassic recorded an assist on Marcel Goc's first goal of the season hours after Sharks GM Doug Wilson made the announcement that surprised nobody. Vlassic has been one of the biggest surprises of the season for San Jose this season, but his steady play on the blueline has earned a prolonged stay.

The 19-year-old defenseman setup Goc with a shot that bounced off Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Mark Smith started the play by skating up the right-wing board before dropping a pass to Vlassic, who sent a shot on net from the right point. Goc cleaned up on the rebound, pushing the puck into a wide open net.

San Jose got all the scoring it would need in the 1st period after Steve Bernier scored on the first of eight power play opportunities on the night. Matt Carle, the Sharks other highly touted young defenseman, threw the puck on net and Bernier chopped at it for his 2nd goal of the year.

While the Sharks were turning up the heat on offense, Vesa Toskala was preventing the Blue Jackets from gaining the early momentum with solid goaltending.

"I feel comfortable on the ice," Toskala said. "It always feels good after you get a couple of good saves. I saw the puck well. Our defensemen blocked so many shots, and that really helps a goalie a lot."

Things turned dicey for the Sharks early in the 2nd period when Milan Michalek landed awkwardly into the boards after being tripped on a scoring attempt. Michalek appeared to slam his tailbone into the boards and laid on the ice for several minutes before trainers helped him off the ice. He would return later in the period.

The Sharks would establish a bit of a buffer moments later when Jonathan Cheechoo scored on the ensuing 4-on-3 power play chance by sliding in a pass from Patrick Marleau. The assist by San Jose's captain extended a 3-game scoring streak, and showcased Marleau's skills after he was forced to control a lead pass from Joe Thornton with his skate, before feeding Cheechoo just outside the left post.

"One of the keys early on was getting the puck deep and putting pressure on their defense, allowing us to get some chances," Cheechoo said. "When the puck's in deep, it's hard for them. Our defense did a great job of standing up to them and protecting the front of the net."

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Mark Smith mixed it up midway through the 3rd period. Tollefsen caught Smith with a couple of right hands, outreaching the much shorter Sharks forward.

"San Jose is a good hockey team, but there is no reason for that to happen to us," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said. "They made us look bad out there. They embarrassed us."

San Jose spent the 3rd period locking down the Blue Jackets offense, much the same way Minnesota did to them on Saturday night. Toskala recorded his 5th career shutout, setting a Sharks record with his 12th consecutive win, dating back to last season. Steve Shields and Evgeni Nabokov held the previous mark of 11 consecutive starts without a loss.

Notes:

The Sharks recalled defenseman Doug Murray from Worcester on Monday. Murray was assigned to the Sharks AHL affiliate last week on a conditioning assignment. Blue Jackets forward Sergei Federov returned to the ice after missing the first six games with a shoulder injury.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 0 3
CBJ 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, SJ, Bernier 2 (Carle, Michalek), 2:24, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, Cheechoo 5 (Marleau, Thornton), 3:15, (pp). 3, SJ, Goc 1 (Vlassic, Smith), 5:02.
3rd period - None.
 
Penalties
1st period - Chimera, CBJ (hooking), 1:16; Brown, SJ (hooking), 6:16.
2nd period - Tollefson, CBJ (hooking), 1:29; Hainsey, CBJ (tripping), 1:46; Bell, SJ (interference), 2:03; NAsh, CBJ (slashing), 8:37; Brule, CBJ (hooking), 11:44; Vyborny, CBJ (hooking), 14:51.
3rd period - Eriksson, CBJ (tripping), 2:56; Foote, CBJ (roughing), 4:06; Bell, SJ (boarding), 4:06; Bell, SJ (roughing), 4:06; Tollefson, CBJ (fighting - maj), 8:30; Smith, SJ (fighting - maj), 8:30; Ehrhoff, SJ (elbowing), 10:31; Nieminen, SJ (hooking), 15:51; Svitov, CBJ (tripping), 15:58.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 23 23
CBJ - Leclaire 32 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 15 4 32
CBJ 9 4 10 23
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 8
CBJ 0 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Steve Bernier
Vesa Toskala
Marcel Goc
Attendence
16,067
Officials
Referees: Stephane Auger, Kevin Pollock. Linesmen: Scott Driscoll, Ryan Galloway.

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