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Sharks melt against Avs
Distractions cloud focus
2/6/08 - by Mike Lee

Facing a depleted Colorado Avalanche roster on home ice, the Sharks failed to generate much spark on Wednesday night. Devoid of any offensive energy, San Jose rolled over to the Avalanche 3-1, dropping their 16th home loss of the season. An opening period that netted 4 shots on goal for San Jose set the tone for the stinker.

Much can be said about generating your own breaks. With the offense on cruise control, the officials followed suit, missing a Cody McLeod high stick that left Joe Thornton with a bloody nose. San Jose may have been guilty of being too focused on the non-call, failing to pressure the Avalanche, who were without the services of Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, and Paul Stastney, who are all on the disabled list.

Mike Grier tried settling the score with McLeod by inducing a fight, but the Colorado winger got the best of Grier with several shots to the Shark forward's head.

While the Sharks focused on McLeod, The Avalanche put pucks on net.

Ben Guite broke the ice midway through the opening period, with a deflection that beat Evgeni Nabokov. Brett Clark fired a shot in from the right point as Guite was cutting across the top of the crease. Guite made a nifty play to tip the waist-high shot, changing the trajectory of the puck and directing it into the net.

San Jose finally figured out that scoring goals was more important than settling a score with a 3rd line grinder. They started by turning up the heat on Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore.

Patrick Marleau finally cracked double digit goals by scoring his 10th of the year while the Sharks were on the power play early in the 2nd period. Marleau took a cross-ice pass from Sandis Ozolinsh and swept it into a wide-open net. Ozolinsh setup the play by setting up Theodore with a pump fake from the left point, before sending the puck over to Mareleau.

San Jose would relinquish the lead 7 minutes later after Jonathan Cheechoo took a hooking penalty at 12:45. Colorado would convert 6 seconds into the Cheechoo penalty on another deflection off a Clark blast. This time T.J. Hensick redirected a shot that slipped past Nabokov for the 2-1 Avalanche lead.

The Mareleau-Michalek-Bernier line generated a flurry of scoring chances at the end of the period, but they couldn't beat Theodore. San Jose out-shot the Avalanche 16-5 in the period, but still trailed by a goal after 40 minutes of play.

Cheechoo missed on two golden opportunity to tie the game with midway through the 3rd period. First Cheechoo fired wide of an empty net, the he missed on a give-and-go play with Joe Thornton. Theodore denied the Sharks winger with a fantastic save on the latter chance by cutting off Cheechoo's angle, deflecting the shot away from danger.

Those chances were just a microcosm of the Sharks inability to control the puck and put consistent pressure on Theodore. After pulling Nabokov with a minute left in regulation, San Jose had the chances, but they couldn't get the puck on goal.

Jeff Finger ended it with an empty-net goal with 1 second left in regulation.

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1 2 3 T
COL 1 1 1 3
SJ 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, COL, Guite 7 (Clark, Laperriere), 10:24.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Marleau 10 (Ozolinsh), 5:53, (pp). 3, COL, Hensick 6 (Clark, Hlinka), 12:51, (pp).
3rd period - 4, COL, Finger 5 (unassisted), 19:59 (en).
1st period - McLeod, COL (fighting major),9:26; rier, SJ (fighting major), 9:26; Marleau, SJ (hooking), 11:44; Sauer, COL (interference), 16:48; Bench, SJ (too many men), 18:52.
2nd period - Richardson, COL (tripping), 5:08; Cheechoo, SJ (hooking), 12:45.
3rd period - Cheechoo, SJ (boarding), 3:46; Clark, COL (hooking), 5:29.
Shots Saves
COL - Theodore 31 30
SJ - Nabokov 24 22
SJ - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 13 5 7 25
SJ 4 16 11 31
Power Play Conversion
COL 1 of 4
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Jose Theodore
Ben Guite
Brett Clark
Referees: Furlatt, Rooney. Linesmen: Heyer, Lazarowich.

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