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Dog eat dog
Thornton's 2 goals paces Sharks
3/30/08 - by Mike Lee

Having clinched the division title on Friday night and having the 2nd seed in the Western Conference guaranteed, it would have been easy for the Sharks to take a night off. No such luck. San Jose rolled to a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday at HP Pavilion, which also eliminated the Coyotes from playoff contention. Joe Thornton scored 2 goals in the 1st period and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 19 shots to earn his 45th win of the season.

Thornton continued to wield a hot hand, pushing team lead in goals scored to 28. The centerman wasted little time getting on the board, scoring just 14 seconds into the game. After winning the opening faceoff, Thornton carried the puck into the Coyotes zone, before dropping it to Ryane Clowe on the right wing. Clowe threw the puck on net, but Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made the save.

Bryzgalov failed to control the rebound though, allowing it to kick out in front of the crease. Milan Michalek took a stab at it, but the puck would end up back on Thornton's stick. Thornton would lift a backhand shot past Bryzgalov and the Sharks had a lead before most of the sellout crowd were even nestled into their seats.

Clowe earned an assist on the play in his first game back in the Sharks lineup since injuring his knee on October 27th in Columbus.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan tied the game at 1-1 at 6:33 on a wild play that may have ended up waking the Sharks up. Derek Morris started the wacky sequence with a 60-foot pass up ice to Doan, who slipped past the Sharks defense. Doan uncorked a shot on the breakaway, that bounced off the end board glass. Nabokov tried the gloving the deflection outside the crease, but Doan stabbed at the puck, jarring it from Nabokov's grip, then lifted a shot into the goal.

Thornton put the Sharks up back on top with 2:29 left in the period after Michalek intercepted the puck at center ice. San Jose had just killed off a Torrey Mitchell hooking penalty, and were trying to get a 5th skater on the ice. Thornton grabbed the puck then skated right down the middle of the rink, before blasting a shot from between the circles that beat Bryzalov just inside the right post.

Joe Pavelski just missed on following up his 3 assist night on Friday with a goal in the 2nd period, but Bryzgalov made a diving save to keep the Coyotes close. Michalek also put a shot on goal with less that 30 seconds in the period that got past Bryzgalov, but a Phoenix defender swept it out of the crease before it floated over the goal line.

Curtis Brown gave the Sharks some breathing room 7 minutes into the 3rd period with his 4th goal of the season. Brian Campbell pumped a shot from the right point, that Brown deflected for the 3-1 lead. The shot slid between Bryzgalov's pads and the Sharks would have all the scoring they would need.

The Sharks continued to smother their opponents with a continuous dose of pressure in the offensive zone. Phoenix would only put 20 shots on net, and only had the luxury of 2 power play opportunities.

Bryzgalov's workload would be much larger. The 32 shots he would face came in the form of quality chances that kept the Coyotes goaltender on his heels all night.

Game Notes:

Mike Grier, Craig Rivet, Jonathan Cheechoo, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Carle and Sandis Ozolinsh were all scratches.


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1 2 3 T
PHO 1 0 0 0
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 27 (Michalek, Clowe), 0:14. 2, PHO, Doan 28 (Morris), 6:33. 3, SJ, Thornton 28 (Michalek), 17:31.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Brown 4 (Campbell, Roenick), 7:10.
1st period - Mithcell, SJ (high sticking, 8:06; Mithcell, SJ (hooking), 15:26.
2nd period - Perrault, PHO (hooking), 10:53.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
PHO - Bryzgalov 32 29
SJ - Nabokov 20 19
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHO 8 5 7 20
SJ 8 17 7 32
Power Play Conversion
PHO 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Ryane Clowe
Ilya Bryzgalov
Referees: Kimmerly, LaRue. Linesmen: Lazarowich, Sharrers.

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