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Sharks cave after blown call
40 shots too much for Nabokov
3/18/07 - by Mike Lee

The Colorado Avalanche played with the intensity to win on Sunday night over the visiting Sharks, but it took a gift from the officials to seal the deal in a wild 4-3 overtime victory for the hosts from Denver. Milan Hejduk scored 19 seconds in the extra period after Jonathan Cheechoo was assessed a phantom boarding penalty, even though the player he hit never touched the boards.

Cheechoo's hit was clearly on the side of the Avalanche player, but referee Chris Rooney sent the Sharks winger off with 14 seconds left in regulation, which meant doom for the Sharks in overtime. Since overtime is played with four skaters aside, the penalty meant that the Sharks were forced to field only three skaters.

Hejduk built up speed in the neutral zone as Joe Sakic fed a pass to the Avalanche forward up the right wing boards. Hejduk had a step on defenseman Scott Hannan and snapped 20-footer over Evgeni Nabokov's shoulder for the game winner.

The ending was a tough pill to swallow for a Sharks team that fought off Colorado's consistent pressure all night. San Jose actually jumped out to a 2-goal lead in the 2nd period, but the Avalanche chipped away.

Joe Thornton got the Sharks on the board first with a power play goal 8:14 into the contest. Matt Carle tried jamming a shot from the left circle, but the puck deflected through the slot to Thornton on the opposite side of the zone. The Sharks winger simply grabbed the loose puck and rifled it into the open net.

Nabokov stoned Milan Hejduk on a Colorado power play after Mark Bell was sent off for charging. Nabokov had to dive to his right to cover an opening in the net after the puck ended up on Hejduk's stick outside the left post. Tyler Arnason would make up for Hejduk's miss with a goal on the same power play, tipping a Brett Clark blast from the point. Nabokov was screened by one of this own defensemen and never saw the shot.

Milan Michalek made it 2-1 Sharks on his 20th goal of the season in the opening minute of the 2nd period. Michalek beat Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj with a rocket from the left wing after skating up the boards with the puck.

The Avalanche controlled the tempo even after Michalek's goal, outshooting the Sharks 7-1 early on, but the Sharks made the most of their shots. Bill Guerin converted on the 2nd shot of the period with a sweeping stab from the slot. Marc-Edouard Vlasic tried putting the puck on net from the blueline, but his attempt was partially deflected. The shot attempt trickled to Guerin who was cutting through the slot from left to right.

John-Michael Liles countered with his 12th of the season after an Andrew Brunnette shot pin-balled off Nabokov's right pad. The deflection skipped out to Liles in the front of the crease, where Liles punched it past Nabokov.

Nabokov dodged a bullet early in the 3rd period, with the Avalanche skating on a 5-on-3 advantage.

Colorado tied the games with 6:46 to play in regulation when Brunette punched home a rebound after Colorado defenseman Ken Klee bounced a shot off Nabokov.

The one thing the Sharks did do right was keep rookie Paul Stastny off the score sheet, breaking his rookie scoring streak at 20 games.

Sakis assisted on all four Colorado goals.

Notes:

It wasn't the outcome he was looking for, but Sharks head coach Ron Wilson eclipsed the 1000 games coached mark in the loss. He becomes the 13th head coach in NHL history to surpass the mark.



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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 1 2 0 0 3
COL 1 1 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 20 (Carle, Michalek), 8:14, (pp). 2, COL, Arnason 16 (Clark, Sakic), 11:55, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Michalek 20 (Thornton, Hannan), 0:27. 4, SJ, Guerin 33 (Vlasic, Marleau), 4:09. 5, COL, Liles, 12 (Brunette, Sakic), 8:25
3rd period - 6, COL, Brunette 25 (Klee, Sakic), 13:14.
Overtime - 7, COL, Hejduk 30 (Sakic, Budaj), 0:19, (pp).
 
Penalties
1st period - Hejduk, COL (hooking), 7:25; Bell, SJ (charging), 10:14; Team, COL (too many men), 12:48.
2nd period - Arnason, COL (hooking), 5:18; Bell, SJ (cross checking), 11:21.
3rd period - Guerin, SJ (high sticking), 1:01; Rissmiller, SJ (tripping), 1:54; Sakic, COL (hooking), 16:30; Cheechoo, SJ (boarding), 19:46.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 40 36
COL - Budaj 24 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 9 10 5 0 24
COL 9 17 13 2 40
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
COL 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Sakic
Evgeni Nabokov
Milan Hejduk
Attendence
18,007
Officials
Referees: Wes McCauley, Chris Rooney. Linesmen: Shane Heyer, Jay Sharrers.

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