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Last second treat is sweet
PP goal in final minutes caps win
10/31/06 - by Mike Lee

Special teams play has been the saving grace for the Sharks this season. That fact was no more evident than during the last minute of a five-game road-trip which concluded in Florida on Tuesday night. Christian Ehrhoff converted on the extra-man advantage with 36 ticks left in regulation to help San Jose knock off the host Florida Panthers 2-1.

Ehrhoff fired a shot in from the point which caught former Sharks defenseman Ville Peltonen in the ankle. The puck changed direction and velocity, sailing over Panthers goaltender Alex Auld's shoulder for the game winner.

"I'll take it," said Ehrhoff, who has four goals this season. "I'm pretty happy. We needed that one and we got it."

Martin Gelinas setup the 5-on-4 advantage by committing an ill-timed hooking penalty with less than a minute to play.

"Big apologies to all the players here," Gelinas said. "We work so hard for 89 minutes, I take a penalty and they score. That's a tough way to lose."

The Sharks overcame a sluggish start to end their second longest road trip of the season with a 3-2 record. The power play is a big reason for the winning record. San Jose converted on 5 of 16 power play chances during the three wins.

"We were kind of flat the first two periods, I don't know why," Thornton said. "Then we were starting the power play with the fresh ice in the third period and we were kind of excited."

It what looked to be a repeat of their losses in Detroit and Nashville, the Sharks seemed flat to open the game. Olli Jokinen would stake the Panthers to a 1-0 lead six minutes into the 2nd period, when he rifled a pass from Nathan Horton past Vesa Toskala.

Joe Thornton would tie the game at 1-1 at 1:31 of the 3rd period on a 40-foot wrist shot that beat a screened Auld. Thornton carried the puck into the Panthers zone with Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo on each wing. The reigning league MVP cut back across the high slot as his teammates continued to press toward the Florida net, before putting the puck on net. The three Panthers defenders that dropped down into the slot to cover Cheechoo and Michalek worked against their own goaltender, because of all the traffic they created in front of the net.

"I thought we played a very good game against a very good hockey club," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "To lose it that way it's difficult, but we've got to bounce back."

The victory extended San Jose's unbeaten streak against the Panthers to 8 games (7-0-1)

"We take a lot of pride in our special teams," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "I wasn't sure we would get a power-play goal, but we were finishing hard. It's nice that we finally got a puck through to the net.


Defenseman Rob Davison returned to the Bay Area on Monday to be with his wife, who is due to give birth to the couples first child.
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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 2 2
FLA 0 1 0 1
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, FLA, Jokinen 5 (Horton, Pletonen), 6:06.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Thornton 2 (Carle), 1:31. 3, FLA, Ehrhoff 4 (Carle, Cheechoo), 19:24, (pp).
1st period - Bench, FLA (too many men), 5:51; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 7:17.
2nd period - Michalek, SJ (holding the stick), 6:39; Kwiatkowski, FLA (hooking), 11:30; Clowe, SJ (fighting, major), 14:51; Montador, FLA (fighting, major), 14:51; Van Ryn, FLA (hooking), 19:25.
3rd period - Olesz, FLA (interference), 7:07; Gelinas, FLA (hooking), 19:18.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Toskala 25 24
FLA - Auld 28 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 4 14 28
FLA 12 5 8 25
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 5
FLA 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Christian Ehrhoff
Olli Jokinen
Joe Thornton
Referees: Dave Jackson, Greg Kimmerly. Linesmen: Jean Morin, Tony Sericolo.

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