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Wild lose at their own game
SJ defense continues to smother opposition
11/29/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks scored only two goals for the third straight game, but the results remained positive as San Jose knocked off the host Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. Joe Pavelski scored his third goal in only his fourth NHL game, and Steve Bernier used his shin to redirect the game-winner in the 2-1 victory.

Bernier's redirected goal was laced with luck, but the Sharks generated the opportunity by outplaying the Wild in the 2nd period, out-shooting them by a 16-3 margin. The flow was typical Jacques Lemaire molasses in January, but the Sharks dominated in that middle frame.

Christian Ehrhoff setup the goal by intercepting a clearing pass in the neutral zone while the Sharks were on a line change. The speedy Sharks defenseman carried the puck deep into the right corner, before sending a backhand pass to Bernier who was cutting in on goal. The puck floated in about a foot off the ice, hitting Bernier in the shin pad and into the Wild net.

"It was in the air, and sometimes the puck's going to go by. Tonight, it hit my shin pad and went in the net," Bernier said. "It's always fun to see that happen."

Mattias Weinhandl staked the Wild to an early lead with his 1st goal of the season on a blast from the right wing. Weinhandl skated the length of the ice before cranking a blast through Evgeni Nabokov's pads, after Todd White intercepted a Marcel Goc pass deep in the Minnesota zone.

Pavelski continued to make a case for retaining a roster spot after Jonathan Cheechoo returns from the injured reserve, by scoring yet another goal for the Sharks at 6:19 of the opening period. Pavelski tipped a Matt Carle shot past Manny Fernandez on the power play after positioning himself just outside the left post. Minnesota tried to wind the puck out of the zone along the left wing boards, but Carle intercepted before putting the puck on net.

"I don't know if goals ever really come easy, but they're coming right now, and that's important," said Pavelski.

San Jose almost padded their lead courtesy of a Minnesota gaff early in the 3rd period when Brent Burns sent a pass down the length of the ice during a delayed penalty to San Jose. Fernandez and vacated the Wild crease for the extra attacker, but Burns missed his mark. The puck skittered down the ice before clanking off the post as Brian Rolston tried in vane to chase it down.

"The only thing missing was the finish tonight, because we certainly had a ton of chances," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.

The Sharks missed out on a 5-on-3 chance later in the period after Weinhandl and Nick Schultz were sent off 13 seconds apart. A feisty Minnesota penalty kill snuffed out the situation, but the Wild couldn't muster the offense to knot the game.

"They play such a tight game, they don't give you a lot of room and the chances you get, you have to capitalize," said Lemaire. "The battles were won by them. This is the thing we work often on in practices, but it seems like its always the same guys that come out with the puck, and they have the wrong sweater."

Pascal Dupuis came closest with a one timer from 20 feet out.


Milan Michalek returned to the lineup after suffering an arm injury last week. Michalek logged almost 20 minutes of ice time on 21 shifts. Doug Murray was also placed on the IR by the Sharks on Wednesday for an upper respiratory problem.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
MIN 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, MIN, Weinhandl 1 (White), 2:54. 2, SJ, Pavelski 3 (Carle), 6:19, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Bernier 8 (Ehrhoff), 7:02.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Koivu, MIN (hooking), 5:30.
2nd period - Carney, MIN (high sticking), 13:47; Johnsson, MIN (hooking), 17:41.
3rd period - Rissmiller, SJ (hooking), 3:05; Weinhandl, MIN (tripping), 7:56; Schultz, MIN (tripping), 8:09; Ehrhoff, SJ (holding stick), 12:33.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 16 15
MIN - Fernandez 31 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 16 6 31
MIN 6 3 7 16
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 5
MIN 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Christian Ehrhoff
Joe Pavelski
Manny Fernandez
Referees: Paul Devorski, Ian Walsh. Linesmen: Don Henderson, Brian Mach.

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