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Sharks rebound against Rangers
1st period power play goals propel San Jose
12/20/08 - By Mike Lee

The game after the 6-0 drubbing in Detroit on Thursday would tell a lot about the Sharks and their ability to bounce back from that lopsided defeat. Facing the best team in the Atlantic Division also set the stage for a little drama on Saturday night at HP Pavilion. San Jose took advantage with 2 power play goals early in the game, then held on for a 3-2 win over the visiting New York Rangers.

Playing the first game of a home stand after any road trip has historically been tough for the Sharks, but they brushed aside the loss to the Red Wings and showed the Eastern Conference that they will be a team to be reckoned with.

Three different Sharks scored goals and Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 32 shots to record his 18th victory of the year.

"Well, we got the win," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "The specialty teams were very good. I thought Nabby hung in there in the end when we ran out of gas. We were a pretty determined team and I say that including the last 15 or 18 minutes when we had nothing left and we were still determined. We found a way, and that's the sign of a good team, so we'll take it."

Any affects of their Motor City letdown were history from the opening faceoff. San Jose took control of the puck out-shooting New York 7-1 in the first 5 minutes of play. That statistic was helped by the fact that New York sent two players to the penalty box less than a minute apart.

A Paul Mara holding penalty 2:31 in the game was magnified when centerman Blair Betts followed him for high sticking Marc-Edouard Vlasic 52 ticks later.

The Sharks looked as if they would misfire with the 2-man advantage, until Dan Boyle ripped a shot over Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's left shoulder. Boyle took a cross-ice feed from Jo Thornton before uncorking his shot from the top of the left circle.

The Boyle goal came with 5 seconds remaining on Mara's penalty, which meant that Betts was forced to remain sequestered for another minute. The Sharks power play would strike again 25 seconds later.

Boyle was pinching along the Rangers end boards and helped the puck kick out to the front of the net, where Joe Pavelski tried putting a backhand attempt on net. That was denied by Lundqvist, but the puck slid over to Jonathan Cheechoo near the top of the crease. Cheechoo's attempt bounced off Lundqvist, but landed on Ryane Clowe stick for the put back and a 2-0 San Jose lead.

"It was quite important," McLellan said of the 5-on-3 chance. "Obviously to get the 2-0 lead early, but also it took away from their physicality I think. For the first half of the game they weren't as aggressive as they were in the last half, so that bought us some time for being a tired club. It also allowed us to be a little confident after giving up six and not getting any in Detroit."

"[Our penalty kill] has been so good and you're going have one of those nights and obviously this is the one, and hopefully the last one, mind you," said Rangers head coach Tom Renney. "But our penalty kill has been so good this year. It was a tough way to start the game, but our guys battled. We were able to hang in there, turn the tide a bit, get a couple goals of our own and make a game of it."

Cheechoo put the Rangers on the power play at 8:30 by dumping the puck over the glass, but Nigel Dawes offset the penalty with a boarding penalty 1:29 later. The Sharks went on a brief power play, but that proved to be counter productive after Clowe failed to contain a pass from Boyle along the right wing boards.

Nikolai Zherdev raced passed Clowe than charged up the ice with Scott Gomez on a 2-on-1 break. Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff tried to seal off Gomez as an option, so Zherdev whipped a shot through Nabokov's 5-hole.

Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton teamed up to push the Sharks lead back to 2 goals at 6:20 of the 2nd period on a beautiful exchange. Racing around the end boards, Thornton pursued the puck from left to right, then zipped a pass out front to Marleau for the one-time attempt. Lundqvist tried to shut off the near post, but the shot found the top shelf for Marleau's 17th of the season.

New York made a game of it less than 4 minutes later on Ryan Callahan's 9th goal of the season. Brandon Dubinsky put a shot on net from the left side, but a big rebound from Nabokov allowed Callahan to chip a shot over the fallen goaltender after crashing the net.

Chris Drury missed on a golden opportunity in the 1st minute of the 3rd period, when he elected to shoot from in tight, rather than dish the puck while the Rangers were on a power play.

The Rangers would outshoot the Sharks 17-7 in the final period, and it appeared that New York was wearing down the Sharks offense. San Jose was stuck trying to change players twice for lengthy periods, but Nabokov bailed them out each time.

"There were a couple of times there where we had them sort of spent and we weren't able to get it in the net," Said Renny. "Their goaltender played great. We waited a little too long to sort of turn up the heat a little bit on them. Had we done that a little bit earlier, we would have had a different outcome."

Lundqvist was pulled it the final minute of regulation, but the Rangers couldn't get any serious attacks mounted. Bungled puck handling in their own zone cost the Rangers a chance at even mounting an attack.

That point was not lost on Renny.

"We needed to manage the puck a little bit better down the last minute and bit there and get it behind them and force them to do what we were able to do in the third period, and that was to turn their backs, find pucks and get ourselves tied."

Game Notes:

The Sharks reassigned Lukas Kaspar back to Worcester on Saturday. The Sharks hosted the Rangers at HP Pavilion for the first time since Nov. 2, 2006, which ended in a 3-1 Rangers win. Before tonight's game the Sharks had not defeated the Rangers since Oct. 22, 2001 at Madison Square Garden (5-1).


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NYR 1 1 0 2
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Boyle 11 (Thornton, Blake), 4:27, (pp). 2, SJ, Clowe 14 (Cheechoo, Pavelski), 4:52, (pp). 3, NYR, Zherdev 12 (unassisted), 10:34, (sh).
2nd period - 4, SJ, Marleau 17 (Thornton, Setoguchi), 6:20. 5, NYR, Callahan 9 (Dubinsky), 9:56.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Mara, NYR (holding), 2:31; Betts, NYR (high sticking), 3:23; Cheechoo, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 8:30; Dawes, NYR (boarding), 9:59.
2nd period - Sjostrom, NYR (interference), 7:32; Pavelski, SJ (hooking), 20:00.
3rd period - Rozsival, NYR (roughing), 5:18.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NYR - Lundqvist 30 27
SJ - Nabokov 34 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NYR 9 8 17 34
SJ 13 10 7 30
Power Play Conversion
NYR 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Evgeni Nabokov
Nikolai Zherdev
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Walsh, Auger. Linesmen: Heyer, Nowak.

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