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Soft goaltending dooms Sharks
Giguere hurt in Ducks 4-3 win
12/26/06 - by Mike Lee

Round three of the Sharks division series with the Anaheim Ducks went to Anaheim on a disappointing performance by San Jose. Shoddy goaltending would cost the Sharks 4 points in the standings, vaulting their division rivals to a 12 point lead.

Anaheim jumped out to a quick lead after Travis Green threw the puck at Evgeni Nabokov 2:39 into the game. The puck skittered past the Sharks goaltender for a cheap goal. Nabokov was playing in his second consecutive game, the first time Sharks head coach Ron Wilson flip-flopped his two goaltender rotation this season.

The decision to alter the goaltending rotation would play a huge part in the outcome of the game.

San Jose knotted the game up at 1-1 midway through the period after a wild play in front of the Ducks net. Jonathan Cheechoo tried feeding the puck into a scrum of players jostling for position at the top of the crease. Jean Sebastien Giguere tried to gather the loose puck, but it was chipped in by Christian Ehrhoff who had been laid out moments earlier.

Mark Smith was sent off for four minutes a minute later for drawing blood on a high sticking infraction. Smith's teammates killed off the double minor with an aggressive penalty kill.

San Jose would take advantage of a delayed penalty to Anaheim with a minute left in the period. Patrick Marleau jumped on the ice as an extra attacker, trailing the break up the ice. Joe Thornton found Marleau as the Sharks captain broke into the Anaheim zone. Marleau snapped home his 16th goal of the season.

Shawn Thornton tried kick starting his team immediately following Marleau's goal, by dropping the gloves with Mark Bell. The Ducks would regroup in the 2nd period, much as they have done throughout the season where they have outscored opponents 47-27.

Chris Kunitz converted with a wrap-around goal 2:45 into the period on a peculiar play by Nabokov. As the Ducks forward skated around the left post, Nabokov tried to poke check the puck away, which prevented the Sharks netminder from setting himself up across the crease. Kunitz flipped the puck off Nabokov's right pad and into the net.

Dustin Penner would duplicate the move 10 minutes later to give the Ducks a 3-2 lead. Once again, Nabokov failed to stop what should have been a routine attempt.

The Sharks would battle back to tie the game again at 3-3 after Shawn Thornton was sent off for roughing at 14:40 of the period. Matt Carle missed on a golden chance, whiffing on an open net, but Steve Bernier would jam home his 11th goal of the season moments later after Joe Pavelski bounced a shot off Giguere.

Bernier's goal was a key moment in the game, because Giguere was injured on the play. The Anaheim goaltender appeared to injure his groin, an ailment which has sidelined him in the past. With backup Ilya Bryzgalov already on the shelf, Michael Wall was called into action to clean up for Anaheim.

Corey Perry would untie the game for good midway through the 3rd period on yet another weak play that Nabokov failed to control. Sammy Pahlsson threw a shot on net from the blueline and Perry deflected it as he skated toward Nabokov.

Once Anaheim had the lead, the Sharks failed to apply any pressure to overcome the deficit. Even with almost a full minute of 5-on-3 power play time late in the period, they could only muster two shots on goal. Joe Pavelski would rip a shot off the top off the crossbar with a minute to play, but that's as close as the Sharks would come to scoring again.

Notes: The Ducks were without centerman Todd Marchant who fell ill during the pre-game skate, and defenseman Sean O'Donnell. San Jose skated without defenseman Kyle McLaren for the second consecutive game.

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1 2 3 T
ANA 1 2 1 4
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, ANA, Green 1 (Shannon, Dipenta), 2:39. 2, SJ, Ehrhoff 7 (Cheechoo, Hannan), 11:25. 3, SJ, Marleau 16 (Thornton, Carle), 18:52.
2nd period - 4, ANA, Kunitz 17 (Shannon, Huskins), 2:45. 5, ANA, Penner 15 (McDonald, Pronger), 13:05. 6, SJ, Bernier 11 (Pavelski, Michalek), 16:24, (pp).
3rd period - 7, ANA, Perry 12 (Pahlsson, S. Neidermayer), 10:20.
1st period - Dipenta, ANA (hooking), 3:01; Smith, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 12:33; Thornton, ANA (fighting major), 18:58; Bell, SJ (fighting major), 18:58.
2nd period - S. Neidermayer, ANA (hooking), 0:22; Marleau, SJ (holding), 4:37; Thornton, ANA (roughing), 14:40.
3rd period - Green, ANA (elbowing), 5:50; Carle, SJ (holding), 10:49; O'Brien, ANA (interference), 14:35; Pronger, ANA (delay of game - puck over glass), 15:42.
  Shots Saves
ANA - Wall 4 4
ANA - Giguere1714
SJ - Nabokov 30 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ANA 12 11 7 30
SJ 10 7 4 21
Power Play Conversion
ANA 0 of 4
SJ 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Corey Perry
Scott Neidermayer
Christian Ehrhoff
Referees: Michael McGeough, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Brad Lazarowich, Vaughan Rody.

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