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Turning Point
Cheechoo's 2 goals propel SJ to 3-2 series lead
4/17/08 - by Mike Lee

The team everyone thought San Jose was bringing to the party finally showed up on Thursday night. Led by Jonathan Cheechoo's two 3rd period goals, the Sharks grabbed a 3-goal lead, then hung on for a 4-3 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference Quarter Final series with the Calgary Flames. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau also scored for San Jose. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 33 shots to earn his 3rd win of the series.

The Sharks grabbed a 2-1 lead with just under 2 minutes left in the 2nd period, then used a 3 minute flurry early in the 3rd period to bag all the goals they would need. Flames head coach Mike Keenan said he thought his defenseman made some poor decisions in the 3rd period, which led to Cheechoo's goals.

"We gave them two un-earned goals tonight," said Keenan. "Poor decision making by two of our defensemen, and that made the decision in the game. It wasn't related to the effort it was related to the poor decisions that they normally wouldn't make or haven't made to this point."

Calgary seemed intent on applying more offensive pressure on Nabokov, after their paltry 10 shots on goal in Game 4. The Flames came out with more vigor in the offensive zone in the opening period, out-shooting the Sharks 11-5 in the period.

Jerome Iginla and Alex Tanguay came close to scoring in the period on a 2-on-1 break just 5 minutes into the game. Iginla squeezed a shot that slipped past Nabokov, but the Sharks goaltender reached back a swept the puck away as it rolled on end toward the goal.

Milan Michalek continued to struggle in the series, and a breakaway chance that was denied by Miikka Kiprusoff in the first minute of the 2nd period didn't help matters.

A roughing penalty to Ryane Clowe at 2:44 of the period was followed by a hooking infraction by Torrey Mitchell 50 seconds later setup a Flames 5-on-3. Iginla would bag his 3rd goal of the series with a blast from the right circle to open the game's scoring.

With Iginla's goal coming before either of the penalties expired, the Sharks were still forced to kill off Mitchell's penalty. San Jose would almost turn the tables on the Flames advantage when Joe Thornton took a short-handed break up the ice, but failed to put a shot on net after deeking Kiprusoff.

The penalty bug would hit the Flames midway through the period when former Shark Wayne Primeau would draw a slashing penalty and Stephane Yelle would get called for hooking. San Jose would only enjoy 24 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but they would convert right after Primeau's penalty expired.

"We got a pretty good performance on the power-play, 2-for-5. They were 1-for-3," said Keenan. "And our 5-on-5 play was good with the exception of those two errors. There is not too much more you can say about the game. That was the difference."

Christian Ehrhoff sent a shot on goal from the right wing boards, as Pavelski converged on the Flames crease. Ehrhoff's shot kicked off Kiprusoff's left pad, but right to Pavelski on the doorstep for the put back goal at 11:32.

Marleau would give the Sharks a 2-1 lead late in the period after Thornton feathered a pass through the slot from the right wing boards. Marleau gathered the pass and whipped a shot from the inside of the left circle. Marleau's shot clanked off the right post top shelf.

The Cheechoo show would start at 4:52 of the 3rd period after Jim Vandermeer tried to skate the puck out of his own zone, but turned it over after losing the handle on it near the bottom of the left circle. Clowe picked up the loose puck and fed it to Pavelski in the slot. The Sharks forward tried to deek Kiprusoff and jam a shot in on net from in tight. As Kiprusoff tried to cover the puck with a snow angel, it trickled out into the slot, where Cheechoo jammed it home for his 2nd goal of the playoffs.

"It's a long ways from over," said Sharks defenseman Brian Campbell. "We've got a lot or work left to do, so we're going to get rested the next couple of days. It's going to be a battle on Sunday. They come at you hard. It's going to be a close game again."

Marleau would setup Cheechoo's second tally and also exacted some revenge on Flames defenseman Cory Sarich. Sarich leveled Marleau in Game 3, but it was the Sharks captain who got the last laugh Thursday night. Marleau blocked a shot attempt by Sarich in the Sharks zone, then beat him to the puck, before floating a pass to Cheechoo on the right wing. Kiprusoff couldn't get across the crease in time to stop Cheechoo's shot, and just like that it was 4-1.

Calgary mounted a comeback on the next sequence after Craig Rivet was whistled for holding the stick at 8:56. Damond Langkow stuffed home a feed from Tanguay on the ensuing power play after Dion Phanuef circled the puck along the blueline and around the right wing boards. Tanguay took a feed from Phaneuf near the right corner, then slid a pass to Langkow, who was parked in front of the crease.

Keenan pulled Kiprusoff with 2 minutes to play and the Flames would score with the extra attacker. Once again Iginla was in on the scoring, slipping Flames right wing David Moss a pass from behind the net. Moss tapped home the pass as Douglas Murray was trying to push him away from the goalmouth.

The Sharks would burn the final 1:17 of clock by playing keep-away and clearing it down rink without icing it. The sellout crowd erupted as the final horn sounded. The win sets up a Game 6 that could spell the end of the season for Calgary at home on Sunday.

"We've been just talking the last week or so," said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. "It's the team that's going to do it. They don't put one name on the Cup, they put everybody's name on. And no one name is going to be in bold type or anything like that. Everyone's going to get credit and that's how we have to play. I think our team game is starting to return."

Game Notes:

Defenseman Kyle McLaren left the game in the 2nd period with an undisclosed injury. McLaren missed 16 games during the regular season with a knee injury.


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1 2 3 T
CGY 0 1 2 3
SJ 0 2 2 4
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, CGY, Iginla 3 (Huselius, Phaneuf), 4:03, (pp). 2, SJ, Pavelski 2 (Ehrhoff, Rivet), 11:32, (pp). 3, SJ, Marleau 2 (Thornton, Campbell), 18:07.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Cheechoo 2 (Pavelski, Clowe), 4:52. 5, SJ, Cheechoo 3 (Marleau), 8:22. 6, CGY, Langkow 2 (Tanguay, Phanuef), 9:06, (pp). 7, CGY, Moss 1 (Iginla, Conroy), 18:43.
1st period - Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 1:01; Mitchell, SJ (tripping), 4:51; Aucoin, CGY (holding), 5:22.
2nd period - Clowe, SJ (roughing), 2:44; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 3:34; Primeau, CGY (slashing), 9:27; Yelle, CGY (hooking), 11:04.
3rd period - Rivet, SJ (holding the stick), 8:56.
Shots Saves
CGY - Kiprusoff 26 22
SJ - Nabokov 36 33
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CGY 11 16 9 36
SJ 5 14 7 26
Power Play Conversion
CGY 2 of 5
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Joe Pavelski
Jonathan Cheechoo
Referees: Devorski, Leggo. Linesmen: Driscoll, Champoux.

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