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Cheechoo continues hot streak
SJ keeps pace in division race
4/1/07 - by Mike Lee

The race for the Pacific Division crown stayed interesting on Sunday as the Sharks dismantled the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion 6-2, keeping pace with the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks. Jonathan Cheechoo recorded his 8th career hat trick to lead the Sharks, who trail Anaheim by 4 points with 3 games to play in the regular season. San Jose's 102 points leaves them deadlocked with the Stars, who have a game in hand on the Sharks with one week left to play before the playoffs start.

Cheechoo scored three times in the 2nd period to break open a deadlocked game. The reigning league goal-scoring champion has been on a torrid pace the last month of the season.

The Sharks scored 4 times in the middle period after the Kings kept pace for the first 20 minutes of the contest. Mark Bell gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead just 2:49 into the game on a blast that beat Kings goaltender Sean Burke. The Sharks then went on a penalty binge to set the Kings first goal of the afternoon.

With Craig Rivet already in the box for an interference infraction, Christian Ehrhoff was whistled for tripping at 15:47, giving the Kings a short 5-on-3 advantage. Mike Cammalleri converted less than 30 seconds later with a shot from the slot. Cammalleri pinched from the point, then fired a feed from Patrick O'Sullivan to the upper right corner of the net to knot the game at 1-1.

Cheechoo would start his barrage three minutes into the 2nd by tipping a shot by Rivet while parked in front of the Kings net. The goal came on the power play after Mike Weaver was in the penalty box for interference.

Milan Michalek would scored his 24th of the season less than 4 minutes later on a feed from Joe Thornton. Thornton weaved his way through the Kings defense before threading a pass to Michalek on the right post. Michalek stopped the pass with his skate, then calmly gathered it with his stick and wrested a shot past Burke.

Cheechoo made it 4-1 with a blast from the left point on another power play opportunity. The shot slipped through traffic, fooling Burke as it trickled just inside the right post.

San Jose would cap the period with Cheechoo's 35th goal of the season with 1:34 remaining. Once again, Thornton would setup the goal with a highlight reel pass. Cheechoo started the sequence by cycling the puck to Thornton along the Kings end boards. The sniper circled back to the slot as Thornton work behind the net from left to right. As Thornton carried the puck out toward the right circle, he found Cheechoo breaking in on net from the opposite side of the slot with a pass that darted across the top of the crease. All Cheechoo had to do was wave at for the goal.

San Jose would outshoot LA 16-2 in the period.

Kings head coach Marc Crawford pulled Burke to start the 3rd period, replacing him with Mathieu Garon.

Alexander Frolov scored his 35th of the season at 8:49 of the period with a shot from in tight. Aaron Miller put a shot on Evgeni Nabokov from the point as Frolov was cutting to the net. Nabokov made the initial save, but couldn't cover up the rebound. Frolov hacked at it, slipping it under Nabokov.

Patrick Rissmiller scored the Sharks 3rd power play goal of the game at 13:08 to cap the scoring. Rissmiller took a feed from Mike Grier as he skated through a barren slot. Without any defensive pressure, Rissmiller had time to pick his target, easily beating Garon.


The Kings got a scare in the 2nd period, when their high scoring rookie, Anze Kopitar, was cut on the wrist by a teammates skate. Kopitar had fallen to the ice as Jamie Heward tried skating past him, but Heward's skate blade landed squarely on Kopitar's wrist. He would return later in the game.

Sharks fans also got their first chance to see the Kings defensive phenim, Jack Johnson. Johnson made his NHL debut on Thursday.

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1 2 3 T
LA 1 0 1 2
SJ 1 4 1 6
1st period - 1, SJ, Bell 10 (Marleau, Pavelski), 2:49. 2, LA, Cammalleri 32 (O'Sullivan, Kopitar), 16:15, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Cheechoo 33 (Rivet, Thornton), 2:49, (pp). 4, SJ, Michalek 24 (Thornton, Vlasic), 6:23. 5, SJ, Cheechoo 34 (Rivet, Thornton), 9:54, (pp). 6, Cheechoo 35 (Thornton, Carle), 18:26.
3rd period - 7, LA, Frolov, 35 (Miller), 8:49. 8, SJ, Rissmiller 7 (Grier, Brown), 13:31, (pp).
1st period - Cammalleri, LA (boarding), 5:19; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 9:56; McLaren, SJ (hooking), 12:55; Rivet, SJ (interference), 14:28; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 15:47; Armstrong, LA (high sticking - double minor), 17:12.
2nd period - Weaver, LA (interference), 1:24; Kostopolous, LA (tripping), 9:15; Hannan, SJ (cross checking), 19:50.
3rd period - Vlasic, SJ (hooking), 4:07; Zeiler, LA (holding the stick), 6:33; Modry, LA (hooking), 10:48; Frolov, LA (hooking), 13:08.
  Shots Saves
LA - Burke 23 18
LA - Garon 6 5
SJ - Nabokov 20 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
LA 9 2 9 20
SJ 7 16 6 29
Power Play Conversion
LA 1 of 6
SJ 3 of 8
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Joe Thornton
Craig Rivet
Referees: Dennis LaRue, Rob Shick. Linesmen: Shane Heyer, Tony Sericolo.

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