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Season sweep of Canucks complete
Thornton assists on all 3 SJ goals
1/10/08 - by Mike Lee

You'll have to forgive the Vancouver Canucks if they don't agree with the assessment that the Sharks are a bad team on HP Pavilion ice. After dropping a 3-1 decision to San Jose on Thursday night, the Canucks finished off a woeful 0-4 season series with the Sharks, regardless of the location. Three different Sharks scored goals, and Joe Thornton added assists on each goal to pace the Sharks.

The three assist performance by Thornton was a fitting end to the day on which the Sharks centerman was named to the NHL's Western Conference All Star squad. Thornton will be joined by goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who was named to his 2nd All Star team.

The West's top goaltending vote getter, Roberto Luongo, opposed Nabokov on Thursday night, but his performance was anything but All Star-esque. Luongo fell behind early and the Sharks never looked back.

“I thought we were very efficient, great job fore-checking, shutting them down in the middle, we created a lot of power play opportunities by skating hard and challenging their defense," said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. "They ended up with a lot of hooking and holding penalties, so all in all I was really pleased with the effort from everybody.”

Craig Rivet gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 14:08 of the opening period on a 4-on-2 rush. The Sharks defenseman took a drop pass from Mike Grier in the high slot, then slid toward the bottom of the right circle before uncorking a shot that hit Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo in the left arm and into the net. Rivet put a nice move on Sami Salo, dancing around the Vancouver defenseman by dragging a skate.

The Sharks would find themselves in a precarious position 6 minutes later when Patrick Marleau was sent off for cross checking and Rivet earned two minutes for slashing just 1:04 apart. San Jose's penalty killers would pump some life into the crowd by killing off the 5-on-3 with some timely shot blocking.

"This team obviously has our number this year, they have outplayed us in all areas of the game," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "It was an alright start in the sense that there wasn’t much room out there to move. We had an opportunity 5-on-3 to put the puck in the net. We didn’t and their power play quick hit us. They got our number and have been playing better than we have been against them this year and that’s why we didn’t win."

Jeremy Roenick scored his 503rd career goal on a power play at 5:06 of the 2nd period after Lukas Kajicek was sent off for hooking Joe Pavelski. Rivet figured in on the scoring again with an assist after starting the scoring play with a blast from the blueline that bounced off of Luongo who was patially screened by Jonathan Cheechoo. The big rebound kicked right to a streaking Roenick, who was breaking in on the right wing.

Vancouver missed cutting the Sharks lead in half early in the 3rd period when Alexandre Burrows missed on a breakaway. Burrows weaved around a diving Nabokov, but couldn't get a shot on goal as he sailed past the net.

The Canucks didn't do themselves any favors by sending a continuous stream of players to the penalty box. An Aaron Miller holding penalty at 5:45 of the 3rd period would setup another Sharks power play goal.

This time, Milan Michalek roofed a chip shot from 3 feet out to extend the Sharks lead to 3 goals. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau worked the puck down low, before Thornton put a shot on Luongo as he skated pas the right post. Michalek scooped up the rebound and lifted the puck over Luongo's left shoulder.

Ryan Kessler finally solved Nabokov, albeit with a shot from a crazy angle at 12:25 of the period. With the Sharks firmly in control, Kessler threw the puck at Nabokov from deep in the right corner, bouncing the shot off of the right post, then Nabokov.

Henrik Sedin had a breakaway two minutes later, but Nabokov stoned him by throwing his right leg at the left post. Sedin threw the deek before breaking left and sliding a backhand shot toward the Sharks net.

"We played solid tonight, "said Thornton. "Right from the drop of the puck, we played hard. We made it tough on them getting scoring opportunities. Just a solid win for us tonight."

Game Notes:

With his 3 assists, Thornton passed Vincent Damphousse (197 assists) and putting him into sole possession of 4th on the Sharks all-time assist list. Jeff Friesen is 3rd with 201 assists. Craig Rivet extended his points streak with a goal and an assist on the night. He now has four points in his last three games (2-2-4). Roenick moved into a tie with Peter Bondra for 37th on the NHLS's all-time list in career goals.

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1 2 3 T
VAN 0 0 1 1
SJ 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Rivet 4 (Grier, Thornton), 14:08.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Roenick 8 (Cheechoo, Rivet), 5:06, (pp).
3rd period - 3, SJ, Michalek 14 (Thornton, Marleau), 6:16, (pp). 4, VAN, Kesler 11 (Burrows, Cooke), 12:25.
1st period - H. Sedin, VAN (hooking), 1:34; Marleau, SJ (cross checking), 15:09; Rivet, SJ (slashing), 16:13.
2nd period - Krajicek, VAN (hooking), 3:42; Edler, VAN (holding), 9:08; Cowan, VAN (high sticking), 12:23; H. Sedin, VAN (holding), 19:22.
3rd period - Miller, VAN (holding), 5:45; Jaffray, VAN (high sticking), 13:57;
Shots Saves
VAN - Luongo 31 28
SJ - Nabokov 21 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VAN 3 9 9 21
SJ 7 14 10 31
Power Play Conversion
VAN 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Craig Rivet
Joe Thornton
Mike Grier
Referees: Paul Devorski, Chris Lee. Linesmen: onnie Cameron, Shane Heyer.

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