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Lineup changes pay off
4-2 win in Tampa Bay
10/29/06 - by Mike Lee

Having lost two straight games, Sharks head coach Ron Wilson shook up his lines on Sunday night in Tampa Bay in order to resuscitate some of the energy that's been missing on their current five-game road trip. The result was a 4-2 win over the host Lightening, spearheaded by two power play goals. Joe Thornton scored his 1st of the season so pace the Sharks to their 8th win of the season.

Wilson decided to move Milan Michalek up to the Thornton-Jonathan Cheechoo line, and bounce Mark Bell to the Patrick Marleau-Steve Bernier Line. The Michalek move added more speed to a line that was more accustomed to the attribute last season when Nils Ekman skated on the left wing.

Moving Bell to the Marleau line means that the Sharks captain has two big wingers to clear out lanes with. Doug Murray and Ryan Clowe were also moved into the lineup at the expense of Ville Nieminen and Josh Gorges.

What didn't change with the lineup moves, was the Sharks ability to convert on the power play. The league's top ranked power play converted on two-of-three chances, including a 1st period goal by Thornton and the game-winner by Marleau midway through the 3rd period.

Thornton scored from the bottom of the right circle after Nick Tarnasky was sent off for tripping just 2:44 into the game. Michalek setup the goal with a pass from the slot while two Lightning defenders converged on him.

Marleau was the beneficiary of a pin-balling Scott Hannan shot that hit him in the skate then ricocheted off Lightning defender Dan Boyle, before sliding past Marc Denis.

"We have the best power play in the league, so maybe the memo's gone out and the referees are not going to give us power plays to see if we can figure out another way to win," Wilson said.

Clowe made the most of his ice time by scoring his first NHL goal at 2:51 of the 2nd period. Mike Grier dropped a pass from behind the Tampa Bay net to Clowe in the slot. The young Sharks forward held on for a second, waiting for Denis to commit, before lifting a shot over his right shoulder.

"I really stopped thinking about it," said Clowe. "When you just go out and play, it will happen. That's what I tried to do this year. It's really special. It feels great."

Vincent Lecavalier cut the Sharks lead to 2-1 with 3:52 remaining in the 2nd period on a Tampa Bay power play. After Marleau restored the two-goal lead in the 3rd period, Martin St. Louis struck with his own power play goal two minutes later.

St. Louis was in the right place, at the right time, sliding home a rebound from just outside the right post.

Lightning head coach John Tortorella pulled Denis with just under two minutes to play in regulation, but Mike Grier ended things with an empty-netter. Patrick Rissmiller intercepted a Lightning pass in his own zone, then hit a streaking Grier with a pass up ice to secure the win.

Evgeni Nabokov had a relatively quite night, stopping 18 of 20 shots en route to his 3rd win of the season. More importantly, the win stopped the Sharks two-game skid, their first multi-loss stretch of the season.

Denis stopped 25 of 28, including a point blank glove save off Michalek in the 2nd period.

"The one that bothers me, Clowe, he scores the second goal," Tortorella said. "We're trying to keep Thornton and Marleau off the board, their lines, and get beat on really just a dump in. It wasn't a lack of effort, we didn't get the job done."

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 2 4
TB 0 1 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 1 (Michalek, Cheechoo), 4:02, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, Clowe 1 (Grier, Hannan), 2:51. 3, TB, Lecavalier 6 (Prospal, Boyle), 16:08, (pp).
3rd period - 4, SJ, Marleau 6 (HAnnan, Vlassic), 10:51, (pp). 5, TB, St. Louis 7 (Alexeev, Boyle), 13:02, (pp). 6, SJ, Grier 2 (Rissmiller, Goc), 18:39, (en).
1st period - Tarnasky, TB (tripping), 2:44; Cheechoo, SJ (hooking), 7:49; Marleau, SJ (diving), 11:45; Murray, SJ (roughing), 15:32.
2nd period - Murray, SJ (fighting, major), 7:23; Sarich, TB (fighting, major), 7:23; Murray, SJ (hooking), 14:46; Clowe, SJ (slashing), 18:30.
3rd period - Kuba, TB (hooking), 6:06; Fedotenko, TB (interference), 8:55; Goc, SJ (delay of game), 11:37; Cheechoo, SJ (interference), 19:22.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 20 18
TB - Denis 28 25
TB - empty net10
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 11 10 29
TB 7 8 5 20
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 3
TB 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Ryan Clowe
Evgeni Nabokov
Referees: Dave Jackson, Greg Kimmerly. Linesmen: Jean Morin, Tony Sericolo.

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