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SJ gives thanks for Thornton
Jumbo Joe extends Sharks win streak with OT goal
11/26/08 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks can give thanks for having Joe Thornton on the ice to start their overtime period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Thornton stole the show by picking off a pass in the Chicago zone, dishing it off to Ryane Clowe 30-feet away, then redirecting the return feed to knock off their Windy City visitors 3-2 at HP Pavilion. Thornton helped San Jose overcome a sluggish performance and remain unbeaten in regulation on home ice this season.

Thornton's game winning goal was a climactic finish to a game the Sharks were fortunate to win. After dominating the opening period, San Jose went into a shell and had to battle back just to get to the extra period.

"The ice wasn't so good tonight," Thornton said on the interception he made to setup the game winner. "I think it was just bouncing all of the place. It's just a 50-50 puck. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. It was pretty much a lucky bounce."

The Sharks would have had an easier go of things late in the game, had they found a way to bury more of their chances in the 1st period. San Jose out-shot Chicago 17-2 in the opening frame, but had only a lone goal to show for their dominant effort.

"I thought we skated very well early, the second period we lost a lot of board battles and a lot of loose puck battles, and that's not very typical of our team," Sharks head coach Todd McLellen said.

After throwing a constant stream of pucks at Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, San Jose began to turn up the heat. Sharks left win Milan Michalek missed on a golden opportunity with 3 minutes to play in the frame. With Khabibulin already committed, the Sharks winger tried lifting a puck over the Blackhawks netminder from 5 feet out, but couldn't get enough lift on the puck.

After surrendering 4 power play goals to the Sharks last week, the Blackhawks were looking to stay away from the penalty box. That objective would go out window late in the period when Aaron Johnson would and Brent Seabrook would draw overlapping minors.

Rob Blake would make those costly penalties for Chicago just 10 seconds into the ensuing 5-on-3. The big defenseman cranked a blast from the point that sailed past Khabibulin on a feed from Ryane Clowe. Dan Boyle earned an assist on the goal, extending the Sharks defensive scoring binge.

"That's part of our job this year," Boyle said on the defensemen adding to the scoring this season. "Not just to play defense, but to chip in offensively."

Seabrook's penalty carried over to the 2nd period, but the Sharks failed to convert. Jonathan Cheechoo almost gave the goal back with a bad pass to Patrick Kane deep in the Sharks zone. Kane had a good look at the net, but Nabokov turned the Chicago scoring chance aside.

"I've seen worst first periods in this building and you have to weather the storm," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're probably the best starting team in their own building and (Khabibulin) kept us in there, gave us a chance to get into the game. It was a better last forty for sure, but (Khabibulin) did a hell of a job for us."

Joe Pavelski just missed after skating past Cam Barker at the blueline and pumping a shot on Khabibulin 4 minutes later.

The ice began to tilt in Chicago 's favor as the period wore on. Up and coming Blackhawks star, Jonathan Toews, would knot the game up at 1-1 with his 3rd goal of the season after the Sharks gave up a 2-on-1 chance on a series of mistakes. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray tried to knock Toews off the puck at center ice, but missed. Toews would carry the puck up the left wing before snapping a shot through Nabokov's pads.

A nasty boarding penalty by Mike Grier would give the Blackhawks a 5-minute power play and would excuse the Sharks forward for the remainder of the game. Boyle would save a goal during the power play by sliding feet first into the goal, intercepting a Martin Havlat shot with his helmet.

"It was a dangerous hit, I don't think any dangerous intent was there, but he was definitely in a dangerous spot," Quenneville said after the game.

A hooking penalty by Toews would cut into the Blackhawks penalty, but the really bad news for Chicago would come on the ensuing 4-on-4 when Khabibulin was injured on a wild scrum in front of Chicago's net. Cristobal Huet would replace Khabibulin with less than a minutes remaining in period.

Boyle would take a hooking penalty right before the 2nd intermission, setting up a brief Chicago 5-on-3 to open the 3rd period.

Chicago would pounce on the opportunity when Toews put the Blackhawks up 2-1 just 23 seconds into the period and 2 seconds before the Grier major penalty was scheduled to end.

"I'm not sure if we ever regained complete control of the game, certainly not the way we had in the first period," McLellen added. "After we got ourselves working again, it was a 50/50 night. We got the last shot on goal and it went our way."

Patrick Marleau would tie the game at 8:16 of the period on a wrap-around chance after a persistent fore-check created the scoring chance. Joe Thornton pushed a pass to Marleau behind the Blahawks net and the Sharks captain would skate around the back of the Blackhawks net from left to right, tucking the puck under Huet's left skate.

Again Chicago took the initiative in the offensive zone, keeping the Sharks in check for the remainder of regulation, but neither team would score.

Game Notes:

Grier's hit will most likely get a review from the league office. While not malicious, it was a dangerous hit, knocking Johnson out of the game with an apparent right shoulder injury. The Sharks allowed only two shots in the first period, marking the fewest number of shots they have given up in a period this season. Rob Blake’s 1st period goal tied him with Philip Housley for fourth all-time in power play goals by defensemen. The Sharks top line of Thornton, Setoguchi and Marleau extended their point streak to six games. Setoguchi’s set a career high for most consecutive games with a point (6) and most consecutive games with an assist (6).



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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
CHI 0 1 1 0 2
SJ 1 0 1 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Blake 3 (Clowe, Boyle), 19:43 (pp).
2nd period - 2, CHI, Toews 3 (Brouwer), 12:43.
3rd period - 3, CHI, Toews 4 (Barker, Kane), 0:23, (pp). 4, SJ, Marleau 11 (Thornton, Setoguchi), 8:16.
Overtime - 5, SJ, Thornton 6 (Clowe), 0:45.
Penalties
1st period - Johnson, CHI (interference), 18:12 . Seabrook, CHI (high sticking), 19:33 .
2nd period - Grier, SJ (boarding - 5 minute major), 15:24 ; Grier, SJ (game misconduct), 15:24 ; Toews, CHI (hooking), 17:33 ; Boyle, SJ (hooking), 19:59 .
3rd period - None
Overtime - None
Goaltending
Shots Saves
CHI - Khabibulin 25 24
CHI - Heut 15 13
SJ - Nabokov 26 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
CHI 2 15 9 0 26
SJ 17 9 13 1 40
Power Play Conversion
CHI 1 of 2
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Toews
Patrick Marleau
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Auger, Shick. Linesmen: Heyer, Sericolo.

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