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Comeback too little, too late
Hurricanes 3 goal 1st too much to overcome
3/24/07 - by Mike Lee

The Carolina Hurricanes are a hungry team. The defending Stanley Cup Champions sat in the 9th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference entering Saturday night's matchup with the Sharks. They used that energy to jump out to a 3-goal lead in the 1st period, then fought off the Sharks in the 3rd period, to beat San Jose 6-4 at RBC Center in Raleigh.

The Hurricanes also had the benefit of getting Cam Ward, their starting goaltender back in net for the first time in 2 weeks. Ward had not started a game after suffering a laceration to his leg. The Hurricanes had the added motivation of being a bubble team with 8 games remaining in the regular season.

Former Shark Ray Whitney opened the Hurricanes 1st period scoring barrage with his 29th goal of the season 5:36 into the game. Whitney capitalized on a Sharks turnover, before lifting a shot over Evgeni Nabokov's shoulder.

Carolina scored again 59 seconds later on a defensive lapse that stung the Sharks. David Tanabe dumped the puck in, bouncing the puck off the end boards. The puck ricocheted back to Eric Cole, who scooped up the rebound and snapped it past Nabokov for the quick 2-0 lead. The absence of any defensive pressure on the play made the chance a slam dunk once Cole controlled the puck.

The Hurricanes landed the haymaker with 1:57 left in the period on an Andrew Ladd goal. Ladd out-muscled Kyle McLaren in front of the Sharks net after Glenn Wesley pumped a shot on goal from the point. Ladd grabbed the rebound and slipped it past Nabokov for the 3 goal lead.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson pulled Nabokov to start the 2nd period. The Sharks responded by committing two penalties within the first minute of the period to go down two skaters. The Sharks dodged the penalty bullet then chipped away at Carolina's lead.

Bill Guerin got the sharks on the board with a 60-foot blast on the power play after former Sharks Ray Whitney was sent off for holding. Guerin beat Cam Ward, nicking the right post with his long range shot, deflecting into the goal. The tally was Guerin's second in the last 2 games, giving him 35 for the season. Patrick Marleau and Matt Carle were credited with the assists.

Eric Staal made it 4-1 at 12:29 of the period with a goal after man-handling the Sharks defense. Staal carried the puck up the right wing before powering his way past Scott Hannan and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Staal put a move on Toskala before depositing his 28th of the season.

The Sharks decided to join the party in the final period, but it was too little, too late. Jonathan Cheechoo pulled the Sharks back to a 2-goal deficit with his 31st of the season at 2:42 of the period.

Steve Bernier scored on a rebound at the midway mark of the period after Mike Grier tried putting the puck past Ward.

Trailing by only a goal, the sharks shot themselves in the foot when Bill Guerin allowed his wayward stick to cut Niclas Wallin, drawing a 4-minute high sticking penalty. Ladd would score his 2nd of the game on the ensuing Carolina power play.

Mike Commodore would be sent off for holding with 2:02 remaining, and the Sharks would convert 6 seconds into the man advantage on a 25-foot slapper after taking a feed from Marleau.

The Sharks would pull Toskala for an extra attacker with a minute remaining, but a lone shot from Thornton would be the closest the Sharks would come to tying things up. Cory Stillman would add an empty-net goal to seal things.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 3 4
CAR 3 1 2 6
1st period - 1, CAR, Whitney 29 (unassisted), 5:36. 2, CAR, Cole 27 (Tanabe, Kaberle), 6:33. 3, CAR, Ladd 10 (Wesley, Walker), 18:03.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Guerin 35 (Marleau, Carle, 6:49, (pp). 5, CAR, Staal 28 (Commodore, Stillman), 12:29
3rd period - 6, SJ, Cheechoo 31 (Rivet, Thornton), 2:42. 7, SJ, Bernier 14 (Grier), 10:11. 8, CAR, Ladd 11 (Walker, Vasicek), 17:40, (pp). 9, SJ, Thornton 21 (Marleau, Rivet), 18:04, (pp). 10, CAR, Stillman 5 (Walker), 19:56, (en).
1st period - Wesley, CAR (delay of game - puck over glass); Vasicek, CAR (holding the stick), 9:55. Clowe, SJ (boarding), 12:31; Cheechoo, SJ (roughing), 18:44; Commodore, CAR (roughing), 18:44.
2nd period - Rivet, SJ (slashing), 0:25; Cheechoo, SJ (holding the stick), 0:52; Whitney, CAR (holding), 5:23; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 15:34; Commodore, CAR (boarding), 18:34.
3rd period - Walker, CAR (holding), 10:32; Ehrhoff, SJ (hooking), 12:53; Guerin, SJ )high sticking - double minor), 15:27; Commodore, CAR (holding), 17:58.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 10 7
SJ - Toskala 9 7
SJ - empty net 1 0
CAR - Ward 24 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 5 8 11 24
CAR 10 3 7 20
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 6
CAR 1 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Andrew Ladd
Scott Walker
Mike Commodore
Referees: Dave Jackson, Kevin Pollock. Linesmen: Tony Sericolo, Mark Wheler.

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