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Old time barn burner
Sharks & Habs combine for 10 goals
3/3/08 - by Mike Lee

If the NHL wants to spice up play around the league, hopefully they took note of Monday night's Sharks - Canadiens game at HP Pavilion. The two teams turned arguably the most entertaining hockey game of the season. Speed, skill, hitting and a see-saw battle on the score sheet left the 17,496 that paid to see this one buzzing after the Sharks held on to beat their guests from Montreal 6-4. Joe Thornton scored 2 goals and added 2 assists to lead San Jose, who won their 6th consecutive game, their first on home ice since February 9th.

Feisty play with a bombardment of scoring was the order of the day, and the fireworks went off almost immediately.

Patrick Marleau would score the games first goal just 56 seconds in to the contest on a highlight reel play that turned out to be the 3rd prettiest goals of the night. Marleau started a give-and-go play with Devin Setoguchi just inside the Canadiens blueline, before streaking past Andrei Markov. Setoguchi pushed the puck up ice to Marleau, who broke right, then lifted a shot past Montreal netminder Carey Price.

Tomas Plekanec matched Marleau with Montreal's 1st goal at 2:22 of the period on a deflection off an Andrei Kastsitsyn shot. Plekanec grabbed the rebound near the riht post and backhanded the shot home.

Thornton put the Sharks back up just 24 seconds later by banking a shot off Price who had fallen in the crease. Thornton grabbed a Craig Rivet shot that bounced off he end boards, then flipped the puck at Price, who was laying flat on his back. The puck appeared to hit the Canadiens goaltender in the glove before bouncing into the goal.

San Jose would have a golden opportunity to push their lead to 3-1 later in the period when Ryan O'Byrne and Markov would take penalties 42 seconds apart. The Sharks had Price in their crosshairs on the ensuing 5-on-3, but Thornton bounced a shot off the Canadiens goaltender from point blank range, then defenseman Brian Campbell drilled Price with a blast to the chest as the netminder sat in the crease.

O'Byrne would atone for his penalty with his 1st goal of the season late in the period on a blast from through traffic from the high slot. Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov never saw the shot as it sailed over his shoulder.

Once again, Thornton put the Sharks back on top, albeit via the power play variety, this time on a 4-on-3 Sharks advantage 5:04 into the 2nd period. Thornton pumped a shot that squeezed through Price's pads, but the puck sat just outside the goal. As Jonathan Cheechoo and Marleau tried to crash the net to punch it home, the Canadiends cleared it, but Marleau ended up barreling into Price. The netminder had to retrieve his stick and by the time he reset himself in the crease, Thornton was able to squeeze off another shot, that found the back of the net.

Plekanec knotted things up at 3-3 with 5 minutes remaining in the middle period, after the Canadiens showed off a nifty set of passing. Markov started the sequence with a pass to Alexei Kovalev from left to right, before Kovalev found Plekanec cutting through the slot. Plekanec one-timed Kovalev's pass for his 26th goal of the season.

Jody Shelley countered with his 1st goal of the season on a flukey play. The Sharks enforcer simply tried to dump the puck into the zone, but he ended up putting it on net. The puck fell short of the Price, but it bounced off the ice, fooling the goaltender, the on-ice officials and many of he fans. The shot wasn't ruled a goal until after referees Tim Peel and Chris Rooney confirmed at center ice. Replays showed that it clearly hit the back of the net, before whipping back out in the field of play.

Cheechoo would give the Sharks a 2-goal lead for the first time of the night, 3:25 into the 3rd period. The former Rocket Richard Trophy winner took a pass from Thornton at the Montreal blueline, then undressed former Sharks defenseman Josh Gorges with a move that vaulted the Sharks winger around the last line of defense for Montreal. Cheechoo made the most of the chance by lifting a shot past Price for the 5-3 lead.

Montreal refused to go away. Maxim Lapierre would answer Cheechoo's goal with his 6th of the season 53 seconds later. Shelley fell down at his own blueline, which allowed Lapierre and Mark Streit to skate in 2-on-1. Lapierre passed the puck to Streit on the left wing, but the Montreal defenseman fumbled the pass. Lapierre circled back toward the net and stuffed home the rebound to pull the Canadiens back to within a goal of the lead.

Thins got hairy for the Sharks with 4:23 left to play, when Patrick Rissmiller took a tripping penalty to give the league's top ranked power play a chance to tie the game late. The Sharks would fend off the first 1:25 of the penalty before Markov would take a costly tripping penalty himself.

Campbell, the trade deadline acquisition for San Jose, would introduce himself to the Sharks faithful with one of the snazziest goals in Sharks history at 18:21 to seal the game. Campbell took a Thornton dish at the Montreal blueline, then skated toward the net with Canadiens defenseman Michael Komisarek between him and the net. As Komisarek tried to poke check the puck away from Campbel, the Sharks defenseman unleashed the counter-clockwise spin-o-rama move, before backhanding a shot through Price's skates for his 6th goal of the season.

Game Notes:

Kyle McLaren made his return to the Sharks lineup after missing the last 5 games, while nursing his knee. Matt Carle, Sandis Ozolinsh and Jeremy Roenick were healthy scratches.

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
MON 2 1 1 4
SJ 2 2 2 6
1st period - 1, SJ, Marleau 11 (Setoguchi), 0:56. 2, MON, Plekanec 25 (Kastsitsyn), 2:22. 3, SJ, Thornton 18 (Rivet, Cheechoo), 2:46. 4, MON, O'Bryne 1 (Koivu, Higgins), 17:27.
2nd period - 5, SJ, Thornton 19 (Capbell, Pavelski), 5:04, (pp). 6, MON, Plekanec 26 (Kovalev, Markov), 14:55. 7, SJ, Shelley 1 (Murray, Plihal), 16:35.
3rd period - 8, SJ, Cheechoo 20 (Thornton, Michalek), 3:25. 9, MON, Lapierre 6 (Streit, Smolinski), 4:18. 10, SJ, Campbell 6 (Thornton, Cheechoo), 18:21, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Latendresse, MON (hooking), 5:58; Cheechoo, SJ (high sticking), 6:02; O'Bryne, MON (hooking), 13:06; Markov, MON (delay of game - puck over glass), 13:48; Cheechoo, SJ (hooking), 15:16.
2nd period - Michalek, SJ (boarding), 3:38; Streit, MON (cross checking), 4:16; Gorges, MON(tripping), 4:38; Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 7:12; Marleau, SJ (holding), 19:49.
3rd period - Ehrhoff, SJ (cross checking), 5:17; Rissmller, SJ (tripping), 15:37; Markov, MON (tripping), 17:02; Markov, MON (10 min misconduct), 18:21.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MON - Price 39 33
SJ - Nabokov 31 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
MON 7 11 13 31
SJ 12 17 10 39
Power Play Conversion
MON 0 of 7
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Cheechoo
Brian Campbell
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Peel, Rooney. Linesmen: Cvik, Henderson.

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