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Marleau closes out series
SJ advances to WC Semi-Finals
4/20/07 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks turned in a gutsy performance on the road to close out their Western Conference Quarter Final series with the Nashville Predators on Friday night, with a 3-2 win in Tennessee. San Jose's captain Patrick Marleau turned into captain clutch, scoring the game tying and game winning goals. The Sharks bounced the Predators from the playoffs for the second consecutive year, once again taking the series 4 games to 1.

Ryane Clowe staked San Jose to a 1st period lead 8:21 into the game, silencing the 17,113 in attendance. Steve Bernier setup the goal by picking the puck up along the right wing boards and putting a shot on Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun from point blank range. Bernier had Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter draped all over him as he crashed the net, but Suter slid into his own goaltender as he tried stopping Bernier. Clowe swatted the rebound under Vokoun's pads after following up from outside the right post.

Vokoun would keep the Sharks within striking distance with a series of circus saves with under 2 minutes remaining in the period. Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton had point blank chances that Vokoun stopped with back-to-back kick saves. San Jose out shot the Predators 14-8 in the period, but they would only enter the 1st intermission with the 1-goal lead.

With their backs against the wall, the Predators would make the Sharks earn the series win by striking quickly with a pair goals to open the 2nd period. Jason Arnott would score his 2nd goal of the series at 3:47 on a power play after Craig Rivet was sent off for slamming Scott Nichol to the ice. Arnott would sweep a Scott Hannan clearing attempt into the Sharks goal after a Shea Weber shot slipped past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Weber's shot slipped through Nabokov's pads, and Hannan had a chance to steer the puck clear of danger, but he pushed the puck with a backhand right to Arnott stick.

Vern Fiddler would stake the Predators to the 2-1 lead just 39 seconds later on the ensuing faceoff. Peter Forsberg slipped a centering pass from behind the Sharks net through two Shark defenders to Fiddler in the slot. The Nashville center one-timed the shot past Nabokov and just like that, the Predators grabbed control of the game's momentum.

They would squander that momentum by committing three consecutive penalties, which prevented them from adding to their lead. With Alexander Radulov already in the penalty box for holding, Vokoun slashed Bernier by jamming his stick into Bernier's nether region. The Sharks skated with a 2-man advantage for 37 seconds, but they failed to convert.

The last of the three penalties turned into the Predators 3rd major penalty of the series, when Nichol was tossed for spearing Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Nichol was responding to an interference penalty committed by Ehrhoff, but rather than gain the man-advantage, the Predators forward took matters into his own hands. Ehrhoff crumpled to the ice after Nichol stabbed at his stomach with the blade of his stick, with referee watching the play 10 feet away.

Marleau would cash in on the ensuing 5-minute power play with his 2nd goal of the series. Marleau stuffed home the puck after Bill Guerin's shot attempt sailed across the top of the crease. Guerin had grabbed the puck between the goal and the left corner, before spinning around and getting the shot attempt off. Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis failed to tie up Marleau, who was parked outside the right post. The tally on the power play was only the 2nd for San Jose in 28 chances.

The Sharks decided to play with fire by setting up a 4-on-3 advantage for Nashville midway through the 3rd period. Offsetting penalties by Curtis Brown and Suter setup the 4-on-4, Kyle McLaren was sent off for tripping. The open ice should have favored the speedy Predators, but Hannan, Rivet and Mike Grier kept the Predators from getting the puck near Nabokov.

San Jose won the series with a line adjustment and a huge forecheck that ended with Marleau's game winner with 4:21 left in regulation. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson decided to pair up Marleau and Thornton in order to generate some offense. Working the puck along the boards, Thornton grabbed the puck and feathered a pass out into the slot from behind the Nashville net. Marleau slammed the one-timer past Vokoun, then pumped his fists in the air knowing it was the game winner.

The two teams traded wild scoring chances in front of each net, then setup one last coronary challenging situation after Predators head coach pulled Vokoun with a minute left I regulation. Forsberg and Rivet were called for offsetting holding penalties, but Rivet earned an additional interference penalty to give the Predators a 6-on-4 advantage with 24.2 seconds remaining.


Jordin Tootoo joined Martin Erat on the shelf after injuring his leg in Game 4. The goal differential in the series was only 2 goals in San Jose's favor. Tickets for the Sharks Western Conference Semi-Finals series will go on sale Tuesday at 10am.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
NSH 0 2 0 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Clowe 3 (Bernier, Goc), 8:21.
2nd period - 2, NSH, Arnott 2 (Weber, Timonen), 3:47, (pp). 3, NSH, Fiddler 1 (Forsberg, Zanon), 4:26. 4, SJ, Marleau 2 (Guerin, Rivet), 17:46, (pp).
3rd period - 5, SJ, Marleau 3 (Thornton, Hannan), 15:39.
1st period - Forsberg, NSH (boarding), 5:05; Hartnell, NSH (roughing), 20:00.
2nd period - Rivet, SJ (roughing), 3:06; Radulov, NSH (holding), 6:29; Vokoun, NSH (slashing), 7:51; Ehrhoff, SJ (intergerence), 14:58; Nichol, NSH (spearing major), 14:58; Nichol, NSH (game misconduct), 14:58..
3rd period - McLarean, SJ (holding), 0:42; Hamhuis, NSH (tripping), 3:10; Brown, SJ (tripping), 9:28; Suter, NSH (interference), 9:28; McLaren, SJ (tripping), 10:02; Rivet, SJ (interference), 19:35; Rivet, SJ (holding), 19:35; Forsberg, NSH (holding), 19:35.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 24 22
NSH - Vokoun 37 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 14 17 6 37
NSH 8 9 7 24
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 7
NSH 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Steve Bernier
Craig Rivet
Referees: Mike Leggo, Rob Shick. Linesmen: Steve Barton, Jean Morin.

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