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Choke job
Sharks huck up win in final minute
12/20/07 - by Mike Lee

After dominating the Phoenix Coyotes this season, the Sharks turned what looked like their 4th consecutive win into a shoot out loss after gagging up the lead in the final minute of regulation. Shane Down scored the equalizer with 42 ticks left in the 3rd period, then Coyotes goaltender Ilya Brygalov stopped all three Sharks in the shootout to steal 2 points.

A wild 3rd period and overtime was quite the contrast to the first two periods, which produced no goals, even though both teams combined for 49 shots.

Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov kept the game scoreless going into the 1st intermission after stoning the Coyotes, during a Phoenix power play. The Coyotes threw 6 shots on goal during the man-advantage, including a shot by Niko Kapanen that seemed destined for the back of the net. Nabokov denied Kapanen with a pad save, sticking his skate against the left post to cutoff the shot.

Both teams traded punches early in the 2nd period, but neither goaltender would flinch. Bryzgalov stopped Joe Thornton on an odd-man break, then Nabokov stopped a Shane Doan shot from the slot after a Sharks turnover.

Kapanen just missed on a golden opportunity late in the period after Nabokov gave up a big rebound. The Coyotes forward raced in toward the goal, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic hauled got enough of his stick to prevent a solid shot on goal. Vlasic was whistled for hooking on the play, which would cost the Sharks.

The Coyotes finally broke their scoreless streak against the Sharks, when Mike York squeezed a shot through Nabokov's pads 33 seconds into the 3rd period on the power play. York was positioned on the goal line, just outside the left post. His shot found a sliver of an opening between Nabokov's pads, ending the second longest shutout streak for a goaltender against a single team.

Nabokov's 271:10 of goal free play against Phoenix is 2nd all time, 10 minutes behind a Dominik Hasek's NHL record.

The Sharks would answer 1:42 later when Torrey Mitchell slammed home a Mike Grier pass while perched on the Coyotes doorstep. Grier raced up the right wing boards, then slid a pass back toward the crease.

All hell broke loose 2 minutes later on a routine stoppage in front of the Sharks net. Several players started swinging at each other, including Daniel Carcillo who went after Steve Bernier. The issue for Carcillo was that Bernier was already engaged with Nick Boynton. Jeremy Roenick tried to pull Carcillo off of Bernier, and in doing so appeared to bend Carcillo's leg awkwardly.

Carcillo was helped off the ice after Phoenix's trainers were summoned to the ice. After all the penalties were sorted out, San Jose ended up with a 5-minute power play. Keith Ballard would take a roughing penalty with a minute remaining in the 5 minute power play to give the Sharks a 5-on-3.

San Jose's power play unit was disheveled, failing to generate much through the first 3 minutes, so Sharks head coach Ron Wilson called a timeout to give his special team's unit a tongue lashing from the bench.

It looked as if the Sharks would squander the chance, but Jeremy Roenick would stuff home a shot from the same spot that York scored his goal just as the 1st penalty was set to expire. The goal broke an 0-for-19 drought on the power play.

Mike Grier missed on a shorthanded breakaway chance with 7:30 to play. With Kyle McLaren in the box for the 3rd time, Grier intercepted a pass at the red line and raced up, but shot high on Bryzgalov.

Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky pulled Bryzgalov with a minute remaining in regulation, but Keith Ballard was sent off for cross checking Mitchell. With the extra skater, it looked as if the Sharks had things wrapped up, but they let their guard down, failing to clear a puck in their own zone.

With the Sharks on the power play, Doan would knock Milan Michalek off the puck near the Sharks blueline, then rip a shot past Nabokov shorthanded.

Patrick Marleau had a chance to end it in regulation on a play in tight with 7.4 seconds left, but Bryzgalov snuffed out the chance.

Ballard's penalty carried over into the overtime period, but the Sharks were content to play patty-cake with the puck. Phoenix almost scored after Ballard's penalty expired on a breakaway chance, but Ballard's shot sailed wide. Phoenix then had a 3-on-1 break that Nabokov somehow managed to foil.

Grier and Joe Pavelski had their own 2-on-1 chance moments later, but Bryzgalov gloved Pavelski's snap shot.

Ballard would trip Mitchell with 45 seconds remaining in the overtime period after the Sharks rookie picked his pocket in the Coyotes zone. San Jose put one shot on goal, but couldn't crack Bryzgalov in the extra period.

In the shootout Joe Pavelski rang a shot off the left post, then Peter Mueller snapped a goal home through Nabokov's 5-hole.

Marleau flubbed on a weak attempt to head fake in tight, then Radim Vrbata missed on a backhand attempt to the left. Bryzgalov ended it with a stop on a Mitchell shot that bounced off the goaltender's left pad.

Game Notes:

Joe Thornton recorded his 700th career point on Roenick's goal. The Sharks power play finished 1-for-9 on the evening.

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1 2 3 OT SO T
PHO 0 0 2 0 1 3
SJ 0 0 2 0 0 2
1st period - None
2nd period - None
3rd period - 1, PHO, York 5 (Reinprecht, Jovanovski), 0:33, (pp). 2, SJ, Mitchell 6 (Grier, Rissmiller), 2:14. 3, SJ, Roenick 7 (Ozolinsh, Thornton), 7:59, (pp). 4, PHO, Doan 9 (Jovanovski), 19:19, (sh).
Overtime - None
Shootout - SJ: Pavelski (miss), Marleau (miss), Mitchell (miss). PHO: Mueller (goal), Vrbata (miss).
1st period - Kapanen, PHO (hooking), 4:44; Carcillo, PHO (roughing), 7:40; Mitchell, SJ (roughing), 7:40; Bench, PHO (too many men), 8:44; Boynton, PHO (fighting major), 12:24; Murray, SJ (fighting major), 12:24; Vlasic, SJ (tripping), 18:19.
2nd period - McLaren, SJ (hooking), 3:32; Vrbata, PHO (hooking), 4:47; Kapanen, PHO (tripping), 8:41; Boynton, PHO (interference), 13:12; McLaren, SJ (hooking), 16:24; Vlasic, SJ (hooking), 19:03.
3rd period - Boynton, PHO (fighting major), 3:07; Perrault, PHO (fighting major), 3:07; Carcillo, PHO (fighting major), 3:07; Carcillo, PHO (game misconduct), 3:07; Marleau, SJ (fighting major), 3:07; Bernier, SJ (fighting major), 3:07; Ballard, PHO (roughing), 7:11; McLaren, SJ (tripping), 10:06; Ballard, PHO (cross checking), 19:09.
Overtime - Ballard, PHO (tripping), 4:14.
Shots Saves
PHO - Bryzgalov 38 36
SJ - Nabokov 37 35
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PHO 16 11 9 1 37
SJ 15 7 13 3 38
Power Play Conversion
PHO 1 of 5
SJ 1 of 9
3 Stars of the Game
Ilya Bryzgalov
Evgeni Nabokov
Shane Doan
Referees: Dan Marouelli, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Michel Cormier, Dan Shachte.

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