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Blues broken before break
Cheechoo has All Star night
1/24/08 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks head into the All Star break on a winning note, sparked by a passionate performance against the St Louis Blues. San Jose scored three 3rd period goals to knock off St Louis 4-1 at HP Pavilion. Jonathan Cheechoo scored a pair of power play goals, to help the Sharks grab the Pacific Division lead and carry some momentum into their 5-day hiatus.

San Jose picked up the pace in the middle period, peppering Legace with several good scoring chances. Milan Michalek just missed on a chance in front of the Blues net on a one-time chance that the Sharks winger whiffed on. Michalek got a second crack at the net, but Legace gloved the shot to deny the Sharks.

Michalek would make amends 4 minutes later on a 2-on-1 chance that ended with a chip shot slipping past Legace for the 1-0 Sharks lead. Joe Thornton brought the puck up the left wing boards before sliding a centering pass to a trailing Michalek in the high slot. Michalek whiffed on the one-time chance again, but gathered the puck as he floated toward the outside of the right post, before chipping a backhand shot into the goal.

Paul Kariya almost answered moments later, but Evgeni Nabokov stacked his pads as the Blues centerman streaked across the top of the crease from right to left. Nabokov threw both legs to his right, stuffing the point-blank shot.

Cheechoo missed on a fantastic chance with less than 2 minutes to play in the period, when Thornton backhanded a pass to the Sharks forward just outside the crease. Again, Legace moved over to shut the door.

Things got testy at the horn when Patrick Rissmiller and Andy McDonald mixed it up in the corner. All 10 skaters came together in a scrum, before the officiating crew broke things up. Rissmiller would earn a 2-minute roughing penalty, giving the Blues a power play to start the 3rd period.

St Louis' 30th ranked power play could do nothing against the Sharks 2nd ranked penalty kill. That would cost the Blues, who would send Lee Stepniak to the penalty box with 37 seconds remaining in Rissmiller's penalty.

Cheechoo would cashed in on the ensuing Sharks power play, stuffing a Michalek pass past Legace for the 2-0 lead. Thornton shuffled the puck to Michalek outside the right post, but the Sharks winger saw Cheechoo all alone outside the far post. Michalek dished the hot-potato over the top of the crease, where Cheechoo deposited his 8th goal of the season.

Steve Bernier gave the Sharks some breathing room on a one-timer from between the circles 5 minutes later. Patrick Marleau setup the ripper by winning the draw, exchanging passes with Craig Rivet, then sliding a pass to Bernier after faking a shot from the right dot. Bernier got all of the puck, beating Legace with a rocket.

The Blues would finally get to Nabokov after both Keith Tkachuk and Michalek were sent off for roughing minors, then Rissmiller took a high-sticking penalty a minute later. Brad Boyes converted 10 seconds into Rissmiller's penalty to cut San Jose's lead to 3-1.

Rissmiller would go right back into the box less than 2 minutes later, but Tkachuk would take a dumb roughing penalty a minute into Rissmiller's penalty to even things up.

Tkachuk's brain lapse would give the Sharks a minute of power play time and Cheechoo would take advantage. Thornton put the puck on net with a pass through Eric Brewer's skates, that Legace couldn't control. Parked in front of the net, Cheechoo waved at the rebound, scoring with just under 5 minutes remaining in regulation.

Dan Hinote added to the sparks by slashing Nabokov with just over a minute to play. Sharks defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh immediately went after Hinote, tackling him, then adding a couple of shots to Hinote's head. All three were given penalties, ending the game on a Blues power play.

The testiness boiled over at the final horn, when Tkachuk hunted down Torrey Mitchell, grabbing his ace with a bare hand. Sharks head coach Ron Wilson didn't care for the Blues antics. He and St Louis head coach Andy Murray started jawing at each other as Murray headed for the visitor's exit.

Game Notes:

The game was the 2nd consecutive non-sellout for the Sharks. The win also moarked the first time the Sharks had scored 4 goals in a game since December 29th, when they defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2. With Joe Thornton’s three assists tonight, he surpassed Mike Ricci to move into sole possession of sixth place on the Sharks all-time scoring list (57-209=264).

With their 2 power play goals, the Sharks have moved into the 10th spot in power play efficiency. Their 3 for 4 penalty kill is good enough to move SJ into the #1 spot in PK efficiency. Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals (#8 and 9) for his first two-goal game of the season.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
STL 0 0 1 1
SJ 0 1 3 4
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Michalek 17 (Thornton, Carle), 6:57.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Cheechoo 8 (Michalek, Thornton), 3:19, (pp). 3, SJ, Bernier 13 (Marleau, Rivet), 8:05. 4, STL, Boyes 29 (McDonad, Kariya), 10:45, (pp). 5, SJ, Cheechoo 9 (Michalek, Thornton), 15:07, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Jackman, STL (roughing), 7:57; Jackman, STL (roughing), 7:57; Thornton, SJ (cross checking), 7:57; Jackman, STL (slashing), 19:13.
2nd period - Rissmiller, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
3rd period - Stepniak, STL (hooking), 1:23; Tkachuk, STL (roughing), 9:21; Michalek, SJ (roughing), 9:21; Rissmller, SJ (high sticking), 10:35; Rissmiller, SJ (tripping), 12:34; Tkachuk, STL (roughing), 13:38; Boyes, STL (hooking), 16:14; Hinote, STL (slashing), 18:52; Ozolinsh, SJ (roughing), 18:52; Nabokov, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:52; Backes, STL (roughing), 20:00; Mitchell, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
STL - Legace 26 22
SJ - Nabokov 18 17
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
STL 5 7 6 18
SJ 3 13 10 26
Power Play Conversion
STL 1 of 4
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Cheechoo
Milan Michalek
Joe Thornton
Attendence
17,142
Officials
Referees: Dan Maouelli, Ian Walsh. Linesmen: Vaughan Rody, Lyle Seitz.

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