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Turning the tables on Minnesota
Sharks avenge loss to the Wild
11/7/06 - by Mike Lee

When the Minnesota Wild last visited HP Pavilion, a steady dose of smothering trap hockey held the Sharks to a single goal en route to a 4-1 Wild win. San Jose returned the favor on Tuesday night, keeping Jacques Lemaire's squad neutralized for better part of the Sharks 3-1 victory. Two 1st period goals would propel the Sharks to their 11th win of the season, which allowed them to keep pace with the Division leading Anaheim Ducks.

Evgeni Nabokov bounced back from a sub-par performance last Thursday to earn his 4th win of the season (matching four loses). Mike Grier and Joe Thornton scored 1st period goals and Patrick Marleau added his 7th tally of the season late in the 3rd period to give the Sharks some breathing room.

Grier and Thornton converted on close range plays in tight and Marleau pumped a 35-foot one-timer past Manny Fernandez.

Grier deposited a Christian Ehrhoff pass past Fernandez at 5:41, then Thornton tacked on a second goal for the Sharks four minutes later. Thornton used his reach to slide the puck past Fernandez after Matt Carle fired a shot in on goal from the left point. Thornton was stationed on Minnesota's doorstep, but he had to utilize his huge wingspan to corral the puck outside the left post.

"I don't think we had scored three goals at 5-on-5 all season," Thornton said. "We came out strong, got a couple of goals early and stayed on top of it, just like we wanted to."

Todd White cut the Sharks lead to 2-1 by jamming home a loose puck in front of Nabokov with six minutes to play in the period.

The Sharks limited their time in the penalty box to 6 minutes total on the night, but they elected to serve their time all at once. An interference penalty by Josh Gorges at 18:13 followed by a high sticking infraction that resulted in a double minor to Kyle McLaren as time expired in the period, led to a brief 5-on-3 for the Wild to start the 2nd period.

San Jose killed off the penalties and established their defensive pressure in the middle period. Steve Bernier set the tone with a big open-ice hit that sent a clear message.

Fernandez prevented the Sharks from taking a two goal lead into the 2nd intermission with a snazzy piece of glove work late in the 2nd. Ryan Clowe was staring his 2nd career goal squarely into an open net, but Fernandez foiled the backhand attempt by Clowe by extending his glove out in front of the shot.

"We just couldn't get enough chances to beat them, and (Nabokov) was strong, too," Fernandez said. "When you give up two in the first period, obviously there's some catching up to do for the rest of the game."

Skating with Marion Gaborik and Wes Walz, the Wild did little to generate any offense, until late in the period. Nabokov was forced to pounce on a loose puck in the crease after the Wild bounced two consecutive shots off the post from close range.

Marleau sealed the deal with a rocket shot that beat Fernandez at 15:05 of the 3rd. Mark Smith setup the goal with a drop pass from the left wing boards, which drew Fernandez over to cover the left side of the net. Marleau followed the break right down the middle of the ice, with Smith's pass tee'd up for him.

Marleau's 3-week old son Landon was making his first appearance at the Tank, so Marleau grabbed the puck as a souvenir for his newest fan. The Sharks captain answered questions from reporters in the locker room after the game, holding the newest Marleau.

"He'll probably end up using it (the puck) in the driveway later on," said Marleau. "We did a lot of good things that we haven't been doing as well lately. It was good to see some strong 5-on-5 play, and then we played better defense than we've been getting lately."

Notes: Jonathan Cheechoo's month of horrors has carried over into November. The Sharks sniper, who is in a goal scoring slump, was tossed from Saturday night's game on his first shift. Cheechoo followed up that performance by getting hit above his right eye with a slap shot in the 1st period. He would return a period later, sporting a fresh set of stitches.

Scott Parker made his season debut on Tuesday night, logging 4:53 of ice time on 7 shifts. Parker had a chance to dance with Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard in the 2nd period after he took a shot at Marleau who was in the act of shooting, but Parker declined in lieu of a power play opportunity. Boogaard had drawn a delayed holding penalty moments earlier.

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1 2 3 T
MIN 1 0 0 1
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Grier 4 (Ehrhoff, Marleau), 5:41. 2, SJ, Thornton 3 (Carle, McLaren), 9:51. 3, MIN, White 5 (Bouchard, Schultz), 13:59
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Marleau 7 (Smith, Michalek), 15:05.
1st period - Koivu, MIN (interference), 15:45; Gorges, SJ (interference), 18:13; McLaren, SJ (high sticking, double minor), 20:00.
2nd period - Foster, MIN (holding), 1:40; Radivojevic, MIN (hooking), 7:59; Dupuis, MIN (goaltender interference), 9:24; Boogaard, MIN (holding), 12:15; Skoula, MIN (interference), 15:35.
3rd period - Schultz, MIN (holding stick), 1:08.
  Shots Saves
MIN - Fernandez 30 27
SJ - Nabokov 23 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 10 6 7 22
SJ 7 17 6 30
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Evgeni Nabokov
Manny Fernandez
Referees: Michael McGeough, Dean Warren. Linesmen: Scott Driscoll, Jonny Murray.

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