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Comeback tripped up
Late penalties burn Sharks in finale
4/7/07 - by Mike Lee

It came down to the final game of the season, but the Sharks finally know who they'll be playing in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. After a gut wrenching 4-3 overtime loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon, the Sharks finished the season set as the 5th seed in the Western Conference, which will square them off against the Nashville Predators.

The Sharks staged a thrilling comeback with 33 seconds remaining in regulation, only to see Mathias Ohlund score the game winner 34 seconds into the extra period after Joe Thornton was sent to the penalty box for tripping at the start of overtime.

Vancouver may want to send a thank you card to Kerry Fraser and Kelly Sutherland, after the two gift wrapped power play opportunities for the Canucks in the 3rd period and then to setup the game winner.

Kevin Bieksa staked the Canucks to a 3-2 lead 7 minutes to the 3rd period after Curtis Brown was whistled for hooking. The Sharks looks destined to end the regular season with a regulation loss, but Jonathan Cheechoo notched his 27th goal of the season after Sharks head coach Ron Wilson pulled Evgeni Nabokov with a minute to play.

Cheechoo swatted at the puck as a scrum broke out in front of the Vancouver net, slipping the puck underneath goaltender Roberto Luongo's pads to the delight of a sell out crowd at HP Pavilion.

San Jose was forced to play catch up all day. Matt Cooke gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead just 1:56 into the game on a wild rush in front of Nabokov. The Canucks used their speed to move the puck up ice, then tried jamming a shot past Nabokov. The Sharks goaltender stopped the first wave, but Cooke punched home the rebound after Sharks captain Patrick Marelau failed to tie up the trailing defenseman.

Tyler Pyatt would make it 2-0 at 4:38 of the opening period on deflection in front after Sami Salo threw the puck on net from the blueline.

The Sharks would regroup at the 1st intermission and convert early in the 2nd period. Milan Michalek converted on a power play 48 seconds in to the period. Joe Thorton hit Michalek on the doorstep with a 40-foot pass, that Michalek deflected past Luongo after brushing Bieksa aside. The Canucks defenseman took exception to the man-handling and tried cross checking Michalek after the puck was deposited.

Joe Thornton tied the game at 2-2 with 4:26 remaining in the middle period on a power play after Luongo earned a delay of game penalty for smothering the puck 20 feet outside the crease. Jan Bulis was sent off hooking a minute after Luongo's infraction to give the Sharks 52 seconds of 5-on-3 time. Thornton swept home a rebound from his usual spot at the bottom of the right circle after a shot from Marleau was deflected his way.

The Sharks were whistled three times for penalties in the 3rd period, including a boarding call on Thornton with 5 minutes remaining in regulation that had the Canucks seething after the game. Thornton smacked his face on the glass after checking Cooke from behind on a rush to a loose puck, bloodying his nose and sending him to the dressing room. The Canucks

Wilson made no bones about his intent to send a message to players like Cooke.

Ohlund ended things when his shot from the point, knuckled after hitting Curtis Brown's stick. The puck changed it's trajectory, fooling Nabokov for the game winner.


The Sharks held Bill Guerin out of the lineup for the second consecutive game as a precaution. Mark Smith skated in warm-ups and should be available when the playoffs start later this week.

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1 2 3 OT T
VAN 2 0 1 1 4
SJ 0 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, VAN, Cooke 10 (Bieksa, Morrison), 1:56. 2, VAN, Pyatt 23 (Salo, D. Sedin), 4:38.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Michalek 26 (Thornton, Cheechoo), 0:48, (pp). 4, SJ, Thornton 22 (Marleau, Pavelski), 15:42, (pp).
3rd period - 5, VAN, Bieksa 12 (Sopel, Naslund), 7:01, (pp). 6, SJ, Cheechoo 37 (Michalek, Thornton), 19:27.
Overtime - 7, VAN, Ohlund 11 (Salo, H. Sedin), 0:34, (pp).
1st period - Thornton, SJ (slashing), 5:54; Sopel, VAN (slashing), 8:45; Burrows, VAN (roughing), 14:57; Fitzpatrick, VAN (roughing), 14:57; Santala, VAN (roughing), 14:57; Michalek, SJ (roughing), 14:57; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 14:57; Rivet, SJ (roughing), 14:57; Linden, VAN (hooking), 18:52.
2nd period - Naslund, VAN (tripping), 5:35; Morrison, VAN (hooking), 7:13; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 10:09; Luongo, VAN (delay of game - smothering puck), 13:58; Bulis, VAN (hooking), 15:06; Ohlund, VAN (roughing), 20:00; Bernier, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
3rd period - Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 1:44; Brown, SJ (hooking), 6:08; Thornton, SJ (boarding), 14:54.
Overtime - Thornton, SJ (tripping), 0:20.
  Shots Saves
VAN - Luongo 30 27
SJ - Nabokov 30 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
VAN 9 13 7 1 30
SJ 10 13 7 0 30
Power Play Conversion
VAN 2 of 6
SJ 2 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Kevin Bieksa
Bryan Smolinski
Referees: Kerry Fraser, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Thor Nelson, Dan Schachte.

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