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SJ sweeps season series with Hawks
Michalek and Cheechoo bag 2 goals each
3/21/07 - by Mike Lee

Evgeni Nabokov got his second straight start in net on Wednesday night in Chicago and he promptly brushed aside Sunday's overtime loss to Colorado en route to a 4-1 over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals apiece and Joe Thornton added three assists to pace the Sharks, who moved to within 4 points of the top spot in the Pacific Division. Nabokov allowed a goal late in the opening period then shut down the Blackhawks for his 20th victory of the season.

San Jose jumped out to the 1-0 lead 7:12 into the game on Cheechoo's 26th goal of the season. Scott Hannen setup the goal with a pass that Cheechoo pumped past Patrick Lalime. The puck found a small opening between Lalime and the left post.

Patrick Sharp would beat Nabokov with his 17th of the season with 4:30 to play in the period. Sharp wristed a shot from 20 feet past Nabokov to the glove side. Nabokov, who has played stellar in goal the last few weeks, clamped down on 22 shot through the first 2 periods, then coasted after the Sharks padded their lead in the 3rd period.

Milan Michalek gave the Sharks the lead for good midway through the 2nd period with his 21st of the season. Rene Bourque was sent off for hooking at 9:15 and the Sharks jumped on the opportunity. Michalek converted on the ensuing power play, one of 2 man-advantage goals on 5 chances on the evening.

The Sharks capitalized on a Danny Richmond hooking penalty 5 minutes into the 3rd period. Cheechoo roofed a shot past Lalime from just outside the left post, after taking a pass across the slot from Matt Carle.

Michalek took a centering pass from Joe Thornton as he cut across the slot and easily beat Lalime with a shot from 10 feet out. Thornton skated behind the Blackhawks net and waited patiently for someone to fill the huge hole in front of the Chicago net. Michalek saw the opportunity and skated from right to left taking Thornton's pass right on the doorstep. Michalek had time to stop, pick a target and snap his shot to the left of Lalime.

The win set a new franchise record for wins in a season (45). The Sharks also set a franchise record with 24 road wins. The victory also vaulted the Sharks over the idle Minnesota Wild into 5th place in the Western Conference. Anaheim has a game in hand, but has seen their 10 point lead last week, shrink to 4 points with 8 games to play.

San Jose swept the season series with Chicago, outscoring the Blackhawks 17-4 in four games.


Thornton moved into 2nd place in the NHL in scoring with 99 points (20 goals, 79 assists), trailing only Sydney Crosby (108) points).

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 2 4
CHI 1 0 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Cheechoo 26 (Hannan, Thornton), 7:12. 2, CHI, Sharp 17 (Havlat, Bourque), 15:30.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Michalek 21 (Carle, Rivet), 10:03, (pp).
3rd period - 4, SJ, Cheechoo 27 (Carle, Thornton), 5:43, (pp). 5, SJ, Michalek 22 (Thornton, Cheechoo), 12:48.
1st period - None.
2nd period - Williams, CHI (hooking), 1:25; Keith, CHI (high sticking), 7:11; Bourque, CHI (hooking), 9:15; McLaren, SJ (high sticking - double minor); 11:22.
3rd period - Richmond, CHI (hooking), 5:01; Aucoin, CHI (hooking), 14:22; Marelau, SJ (hooking), 16:08.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 29 28
CHI - Lalime 20 16
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 6 7 20
CHI 12 10 7 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 5
CHI 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Milan Michalek
Jonathan Cheechoo
Referees: Don Koharski, Rob Martell. Linesmen: David Brisebois, Mike Cvik.

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