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Ole St. Marcel brings cheer
No yule loge flame
12/23/06 - by Mike Lee

The mythical figure, borne from German folklore, who brings delight to people around the globe this holiday season by handing out gifts made his appearance on Christmas eve eve in San Jose. That figure being Marcel Goc of course. The fabled goal scorer who hasn't been seen on the ice for several weeks made a special appearance on Saturday night, dolling out big hits and goals to the delight of a sold out HP Pavilion.

After spending Thursday night dreaming of sugar plums and turning in one of their worst showings of the season, the Sharks got back to work on the last game before the Christmas break beating the Calgary Flames 4-1. Goc set the games tone early by flattening Dion Phaneuf with a check that sent the Flames defenseman sprawling into the boards.

"When you're moving your feet, you're not going to take many penalties," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said. "That's what I asked Santa for. Hopefully we can play like that all the time. It's not that hard."

The Sharks came out with the fire that was lacking in the 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday, but they were just as hospitable early on. San Jose dictated most of the play in the opening period, but went into the locker room down a goal after giving up a short handed goal to the Flames late.

Calgary capitalized on a botched defensive assignment after Rhett Warrener was sent off for cross checking with under three minutes to play in the period. After grabbing control of the puck in their own end, Andrew Ference chipped a pass up the right wing boards to Matthew Lombardi who had slipped behind Matt Carle. Lombardi raced up the ice uncontested before beating Evgeni Nabokov with his 11th goal of the season.

"That was definitely a new experience for most of us," Flames right wing Jarome Iginla said. "On the other hand we were able to get some rest and we were excited about coming here with a chance to get to the top of our division. We didn't do that because we didn't put enough pressure on the Sharks. They are a good team and we didn't make it hard enough."

The Sharks perseverance would turn the tide in the 2nd period. Goc started the revival with his 3rd goal of the season on a give-and-go play with Curtis Brown that ended with a shot that sailed over Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff's right shoulder. Goc carried a Mark Smith pass into the Flames zone before dropping the puck to Brown and bee-lining it to the Calgary net. Ference had to pick and choose to defend either Goc or Brown, but a second of indecision cost him, allowing Brown to feather a feed right back to the Sharks winger.

"I haven't scored for a while, so that was good," Goc said. "(Curtis) Brown made a good play. I passed him the puck and my defender took a step toward him, so he gave it back to me and I shot it."

San Jose would take the lead less than 4 minutes later after Robyn Regehr was whistled for holding Joe Thornton in the Flames zone. Matt Carle would launch a shot that caromed off the left post, slipping behind Kiprusoff. As the rebound skittered across the crease behind the Flames goaltender, Milan Michalek swatted home an easy put-back for this 11th goal of the season.

"I had the puck in the corner and saw (Jonathan) Cheechoo," Michalek said. "I tried to pass it to him but it went all the way to Carle, who shot it. I was there for the rebound."

The Sharks 4th line would convert again three minutes into the 3rd period to give the Sharks some breathing room. Curtis Brown pumped a shot off Kiprusoff's chest, and when the Flames goaltender tried to clear the puck at his feet, he misread Mark Smith's positioning in context to Ference, his intended target.

Smith intercepted the pass in the slot as he was driving toward the net, easily sweeping it into an empty goal.

The Flames thought they had cut the Sharks lead to 3-2 on a shot that they thought caught the back of the net before bouncing out front. The goal judges light came on, but replays clearly showed the puck bouncing off the post.

"We came out flat in our last game but we bounced back with a solid effort," Smith said. "As the game wore on they might have slowed down a bit."

Scott Hannan would end any comeback by bagging an empty-netter with 42 ticks left in regulation.

"We had a lead after the first period and we didn't push hard enough in the second," Calgary head coach Jim Playfair said. "We let them back in the game."

Notes:

Former Sharks television color analyst and Shark Bytes show host Drew Remenda was in the building for the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. Remenda was shown talking to several fans during the 2nd intermission and received a boisterous round of applause from fans.

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
CGY 1 0 0 1
SJ 0 2 2 4
1st period - 1, CGY, Lombardi 11 (Ference, Huselius), 17:55.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Goc 3 (Brown, Smith), 6:59. 3, SJ, Michalek 11 (Carle, Thornton), 10:14.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Smith 3 (Brown), 3:22. 5, SJ, Hannan 1 (unassisted), 19:18.
 
Penalties
1st period - Warraner, CGY (cross checking), 17:16; Huselius, CGY (hooking), 19:26; Phaneuf, CGY (roughing), 19:26; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 19:26.
2nd period - Regehr, CGY (holding), 8:55.
3rd period - Amonte, CGY (cross checking), 13:54; Iginla, CGY (delay of game - puck over glass), 15:44.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
CGY - Kiprusoff 30 27
CGY - empty net 1 0
SJ - Nabokov 22 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CGY 7 9 6 22
SJ 8 12 11 31
Power Play Conversion
CGY 0 of 0
SJ 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Marcel Goc
Mark Smith
Curtis Brown
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Mike Leggo, Tim Peel. Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Ryan Galloway.

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