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Win with a price
Cheechoo injured in 4-3 victory
11/13/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks awoke from the funk that had plagued them for three games, just in the nick of time on Wednesday night. Fueled by three 3rd period goals, San Jose overcame three deficits to end their four-game road trip with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored power play goals 18 seconds apart to lead the comeback. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov turned in the biggest performance, stopping 40 shots, including 20 in a wild 2nd period.

The win was tempered by the news that Jonathan Cheechoo sustained an injury to his left knee after Colorado defenseman Karlis Skrastins landed on the Sharks snipers leg, following a scrum in front of the Avalanche net midway through the game.

The league's top goal scorer last season has endured his share of injuries thus far, but the extent of this latest mishap is unknown. Cheechoo required assistance off the ice and did not return to the game.

If the Sharks needed any motivation to jump start an offense which has gone anemic as of late, Cheechoo's injury was it. Without him in the lineup, San Jose will lean on someone else to balance the right side along with Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier.

"We sleepwalked through the second period," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "Fortunately for us, we woke up in time to score two power plays at the end."

Both right wings chipped in during the 3rd periods which saw both teams score 5 combined goals. After Antti Laaksonen had staked Colorado to a 2-1 lead at the 2:54 mark of the period on a turnover by Marleau, Bernier countered with his 6th tally of the season on a sweet backhand attempt from the bottom of the right circle.

Avalanche captain Joe Sakic countered with Colorado's third goal of the game less than two minutes later on a bullet from the right wing.

Colorado shot themselves in the foot midway through the period when they took a bench minor for too many men on the ice, which was followed by a Brett Clark hooking penalty 28 seconds later.

Thornton struck quickly with a goal 5 seconds into the ensuing 5-on-3 after Milan Michalek deflected a clearing attempt by Colorado right off the draw. Thornton gathered the rebound in the slot and snapped a wrist shot past Jose Theodore.

Marleau would convert on his goal before the Thornton goal was even announced to the 18.007 in attendance. Thornton started the scoring sequence by sending a pass down low to Michalek on the right post. The Sharks winger failed to control the puck, but deflected it across the slot to Marleau who was driving to the net. The Sharks captain buried the shot into a wide open net.

"That was our opportunity, we grasped it and took advantage of it," said Marleau.

The Sharks then turned to Nabokov to shut the door on an Avalanche offense that had no problem putting pucks on net. Nabokov outdid his 2nd period performance with several circus stops during the final 4 minutes of the game.

"Shots were coming from everywhere," Nabokov said. "I didn't know where they were coming from. I made the saves I had to make."

One saving grace for San Jose has been their penalty kill, which stopped all four Colorado chances. Curtin Brown also scored a short-handed goal early in the 2nd period to know the game up at 1-1. Brown converted on the chance after John-Michael Liles misplayed a pass at the Sharks blueline.

Brett McLean had given the Avalanche a 1-0 lead early in the game on Nabokov's lone mistake. The Sharks netminder failed to cut off McLean's angle on a shot that squeezed through Nabokov's pads.

"We didn't win the game and that is what we are here for," Laaksonen said. "I think we deserved to win, we worked pretty hard for it, but it didn't go our way."


Defenseman Rob Davison made his season debut with the Sharks after a stint on the injured reserve. He made the most of his ice-time, squaring off with Ian Laperriere twice after dishing out hits to Colorado forwards in the Sharks zone. The first fight was more of a hug, which ended in both players crashing to the ice. Davison got the best of Laperriere in the rematch later in the period.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 3 4
COL 1 0 2 3
1st period - 1, COL, McLean 4 (Arnason, Laprerriere), 3:48.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Brown 3 (unassisted), 1:34, (sh).
3rd period - 3, COL, Laaksonen 1 (Rycroft), 2:54. 4, SJ, Bernier 6 (Marleau, McLaren), 6:52. 5, COL, Sakic 8 (Svatos, Theodore), 8:32. 6, SJ, Thornton 5 (Michalek), 10:55, (pp). 7, SJ, Marleau 12 (Michalek, Thornton), 11:12, (pp).
1st period - Stastny, COL (hooking), 4:12; Hejduk, COL (hooking), 13:57; Svatos, COL (tripping), 17:55.
2nd period - Hannan, SJ (hooking), 1:22; Davison, SJ (roughing), 4:04; Laperriere, COL (roughing), 4:04; Davison, SJ (fighting major), 6:08; Laperriere, COL (fighting major), 8:08; Nieminen, SJ (hooking), 9:32; Hannan, SJ (hooking), 19:39.
3rd period - Team, COL (too many men), 10:22; Clark, COL (hooking), 10:50; Brown, SJ (hooking), 17:20.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 43 40
COL - Theodore 26 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 7 12 26
COL 6 21 16 43
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 5
COL 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Steve Bernier
Joe Thornton
Referees: Mike Leggo, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Darren Gibbs, Thor Nelson.

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