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Offense goes wild
Bernier leads Sharks with a pair of goals
12/11/07 - by Mike Lee

With Saturday's 7-1 shellacking by Buffalo in the rear view mirror, the Sharks got back to winning on Tuesday night with a solid 60 minute effort at home, winning easily over the Minnesota Wild. Steve Bernier scored a pair of 2nd period goals and Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 36 of 37 shots to pace the Sharks to a 4-1 at HP Pavilion. Attention to defensive details allowed the Sharks to put a strangle hold on the offensively challenged Wild throughout the contest. San Jose then capitalized on several opportunities in the offensive end to coast to their 5th home victory of the season.

Eager to set the offensive tempo, San Jose got on the board early, with Joe Pavelski's 6th goal of the season just 2:39 into the game. Craig Rivet setup the goal with a shot that kicked off Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, after the Sharks defenseman pinched in from the point. Rivet drew Backstrom out of the net to take away the angle, the bounced a shot that ended up on Pavelski's stick in the slot. All Pavelski had to do was deposit the rebound in the empty net.

Mike Grier would add his 5th of the season at 4:17 of the 2nd period, on a feed from Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell took a pass from Patrick Rissmiller on the fly as he gained the Minnesota zone, the raced up the right wing boards. A Minnesota defender cut off Mitchell's line, so the rookie forward circled back toward the blueline, before finding Grier in the high slot. Grier one-timed the pass past Backstrom for the 2-0 Sharks lead.

Bernier would bag the first of his pair 4 minutes later on a fortuitous bounce off Backstrom. The Sharks winger worked the puck behind the Wild net with Marcel Goc, then tried to circle around to the front of the net, and setup Goc who was parked just outside the left post. Bernier's pass pin-balled off Backstrom, right back to the Sharks winger, who then deposited it for his 6th goal of the season.

Goc was making his return to the ice after missing the last 12 games with a back injury.

Bernier would cash in again at the 13:17 mark, after Brent Burns was sent off for slashing. Once again, Bernier was in the right place, at the right time. Pavelski worked the puck down low after taking a feed from Patrick Marelau, then tried stuffing it past Backstrom, but the Wild goaltender managed to close the goal mouth by pinning his skate against the left post. Bernier swooped in after Pavelski failed to push it past Backstrom and punched the puck home for the 4-0 lead.

Nabokov's night was relatively routine, even though he faced a large number of shots. Many of those were of the perimeter variety that rarely threatened the Sharks netminder. Aaron Voros came close to solving Nabokov with 2 minutes to play in the period on a breakaway that the Sharks goaltender stuffed with a sliding save.

Voros would take his frustrations out on Kyle McLaren midway through the final period, when the two squared off with some fisticuffs. Todd Fedoruk and Alexei Semanov would partake in their own fight less than a minute later.

Only a power play goal by Branko Radivojevic would blemish Nabokov's performance. Radivojevic converted just 6 seconds after Rissmiller was sent to the penalty box for interference midway through the 3rd period, chipping in a deflection from the left dot.

The closest Minnesota would come to scoring after that was a Marion gaborik shot that clanked off the post on a late power play that San Jose would eventually repel.

Game Notes:

Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick were both scratched because of injuries. Cheechoo tweeked his groin in the loss to Buffalo on Saturday. McLaren joined Goc back in the lineup after attending his grandmother's funeral.

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1 2 3 T
MIN 0 0 1 1
SJ 1 3 0 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 6 (Rivet, Thornton), 2:39
2nd period - 2, SJ, Grier 5 (Mitchell, Rissmiller), 4:17. 3, SJ, Bernier 6 (Goc), 8:48. 4, SJ, Bernier 7 (Pavelski, Marleau), 13:17, (pp).
3rd period - 4, MIN, Radevojevic 3 (Demitra, Gaborik), 10:58, (pp).
1st period - Foster, MIN (hooking), 13:53.
2nd period - Fedoruk, MIN (roughing), 10:10; Grier, SJ (roughing), 10:10; Burns, MIN (slashing), 12:27.
3rd period - Murray, SJ (tripping), 4:49; Voros, MIN (fighting major), 9:36; McLaren, SJ (fighting major), 9:36; Fedoruk, MIN (fighting major), 10:13; Semanov, SJ (fighting major), 10:13; Rissmiller, SJ (interference), 10:52; Gaborik, MIN (cross checking), 15:53; Vlasic, SJ (hookng), 19:16.
Shots Saves
MIN - Backstrom 30 26
SJ - Nabokov 37 36
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MIN 10 9 18 37
SJ 8 15 7 30
Power Play Conversion
MIN 1 of 3
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Steve Bernier
Joe Pavelski
Marcel Goc
Referees: Justin StPierre, Don VanMassenhoven. Linesmen: Greg Devorski, Tony Sericolo.

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