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Sharks avoid trap
Thornton caps win with a steal
11/25/06 - by Mike Lee

If the devil is the anti-Christ, then the New Jersey Devils are the anti-new-NHL. Nothing was more clear on Saturday night as the curse of Lou Lamoriello' s trap hockey came to San Jose. The Sharks and Devils locked horns in a good vs. evil battle for 50 minutes before good prevailed in the form of a Joe Thornton slap shot that broke the curse, bringing the 17,496 in attendance back to life after enduring the hypnotic trance that is New Jersey hockey.

Thornton was credited with an unassisted goal after he pounced on a turnover by Scott Gomez in the neutral zone and cranked a shot past Martin Brodeur at 8:49 of the 3rd period. Christian Ehrhoff actually started the sequence by pushing the puck up ice from the Sharks zone. Gomez over-skated the puck, allowing it to trickle off his stick into an unprotected section of the ice between the bluelines.

As it turns out, Thornton capitalized on a gaff by the Sharks, who had issues with communicating line assignments.

"I'm not sure what happened," Thornton said. "I wasn't supposed to be on the ice but there was something going on and I just got out there. Then there was the turnover and I just stepped up and shot."

Thornton grabbed the loose puck and skated up the left wing before launching a blast that Brodeur had no chance to stop. Thornton got the shot off from about 40-feet out, but it had so much on it, that the Devils goaltender could only wave at it and hope to catch a piece.

"He's a great goaltender but you can't be afraid of him," Thornton said. "I wanted to get on that side and I got as much wood as I could on it and let it fly. I wasn't aiming at the general spot, it just happened to go in."

Brodeur kept the Devils close all night with a number of key saves throughout the early stages of the contest. He robbed Mike Grier on consecutive shots in the 2nd period, the last coming on a one-timer from point blank range after Thornton set him up with a feed from behind the New Jersey net.

Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov topped Brodeur's performance with his 30th career shutout, stopping all 24 shots he faced. His toughest challenge came at the end of the contest when Patrick Rissmiller was sent off for high sticking with 1:36 to play. Devils head coach Claude Julien pulled Brodeur after the Devils gained control of the puck and moved into the Sharks zone, but New Jersey failed to put the puck on net.

"They don't give up many chances to score, and they have [Martin] Brodeur," Nabokov said. "They had a couple of strange shots from the blue line and sometimes those are more dangerous than the open shots from the slot. We did a good job of getting to the rebounds."

Brian Rafalski had the best look at the net, but his shot-attempt sailed wide with 10 ticks remaining. A centering pass across the slot was then intercepted by Mike Grier, who promptly sent it down the length of the ice for an empty net goal.

"One costly mistake that ended up in the bottom of our net," Julien said. "It bounced off his stick and he made the perfect shot between the poles."


Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek were out of the lineup again, as they attend to injuries. Mark Bell and Joe Pavelski were the benefactors. Bell moved back onto the Thornton-Grier line, while Pavelski skated for the second consecutive came along side Patrick Marleau and Steve Bernier.

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1 2 3 T
NJ 0 0 0 0
SJ 0 0 2 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, SJ, Thornton 7 (unassisted), 8:49. 2, SJ, Grier 6 (Vlassic), 19:52, (sh, en).
1st period - Hannan, SJ (holding), 12:32.
2nd period - Brylin, SJ (hooking), 0:56; Bernier, SJ (boarding), 1:39; Brodeur, NJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 10:28.
3rd period - Rissmiller, SJ (high sticking), 18:24.
  Shots Saves
NJ - Brodeur 26 25
NJ - empty net 1 0
SJ - Nabokov 24 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NJ 7 7 10 24
SJ 7 9 11 27
Power Play Conversion
NJ 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Joe Thornton
Martin Brodeur
Referees: Chris Rooney, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Mark Wheler.

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