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Wild and painful loss
Sharks blow 3-0 lead & lose in OT
3/5/09 - By Mike Lee

It's ironic that the Minnesota Wild's offense is typically anything but wild. Just don't tell that to the Sharks. Minnesota staged a wild comeback on Thursday night, after staking San Jose to a 3-0 lead at HP Pavilion. The Wild would capitalize on 2nd period complacency, a fluke bounce in the 3rd period and lack of desperation on San Jose's part in the overtime to send the Sharks to their 3rd straight loss.

Joe Pavelski put the Sharks up 1-0 midway through the opening period on a redirect off a Ryane Clowe pass from the left corner. Pavelski beat Stephane Veilleux in the slot, then put the Clowe feed past Niklas Backstrom.

"We played very well for the first 38 minutes", said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "I thought that's as well as we played in a long time. Some of the issues that we addressed over the last couple of days really improved, we executed. Then we let them back in the game. Right now we're a bit of a fragile team." Clowe would make it 2-0 less than 4 minute later on a shot from the left circle. Rob Blake carried the puck up the right wing and put a 40-foot shot on goal. Backstrom surrendered a huge rebound to Clowe on the off wing, and the Sharks winger was able to snap a return feed over Backstrom's right shoulder.

San Jose's second line seemed to be the only group interested in generating any offense. A Kim Johsson holding penalty with 15 seconds left in the opening period, carried over for San Jose into the 2nd period, and once again the Clowe-Pavelski-Michalek trio almost deposited the puck for a goal. Only a sprawling save by Backstrom kept the game at 2-0.

That would only last until the 9 minute mark of the middle stanza. With the Sharks buzzing the net, the puck cycled behind the Minnesota net, then kicked out to the point, where Marc-Edouard Vlasic put a shot on net. The puck deflected off of Andrew Brunette, taking a 90 degree turn toward Pavelski, who was stationed all by him self on the left side. The Sharks centerman simply swept the puck into the wide open net, and the lead was a comfortable three goals.

Or so it seemed.

The Sharks were 2 minutes from hitting the second intermission with that big lead, but it evaporated in the blink of an eye.

First Marc-Andre Bergeron cranked a shot from the left point, that deflected off of Mikko Koivu at 17:52. Bergeron's shot looked routine, but Koivu's interference in front got the job done for the offensively challenged Wild.

With the period winding down, the wheels would begin to come off San Jose's wagon after the defense let their guard down. Johnsson would intercept a lazy dump in play deep in his own zone, then he sent a long pass to Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the Shaks blueline. Bouchard was then allowed to skate the puck untouched to the bottom of the right circle, where he roofed a shot past Boucher. Just like that the Sharks comfortable lead had evaporated to a single goal.

Rather than regroup at the intermission and come out with guns blazing in the final period, the Sharks allowed the Wild to dictate play. San Jose was out-shot in the period 11-9, but more importantly, they allowed the Wild to tie the game.

That tying goal is one Boucher won't soon forget.

With just under 8 minutes to play in regulation, Marek Zidlicky sent a backhanded dump in from center ice, as the Wild were changing lines. The puck floated harmlessly into the Sharks zone, bounced twice, then slipped under Boucher's glove and into the net.
BR> It was as if the ghost of Roman Turek had kicked the puck on its last hop, in retribution for Owen Nolan's playoff goal that sank the St Louis Blues. Nolan just so happened to be sitting on the Wild bench when Zidlicky's fluke dump in doomed the Sharks.

"That happens once a year, once every two years", McLellan said of the fluke goal. Tough one for the goalie. He'd love to have it back, I know he'd tell you that. We'd all like to have it back, but it bounced on him and went in."

San Jose had one last opportunity to win the game in regulation when Cal Clutterbuck was sent off for high sticking with 2:56 to play, but the Sharks power play has been on hiatus the past three weeks.

Brent Burns manufactured the game-winner by streaking up the left wing and snapping a shot on Boucher from 20-feet. The Sharks goaltender made the save, but the puck kicked right back out to Burns, who redirected a pass out into the slot. Koivu cut through the slot, as defenseman Christian Ehrhoff turned his back to the Wild captain, and punched home the goal with 14 seconds remaining in the extra period.

"When you're up three nothing, you need to put teams away", added McLellan. "And either that means get a fourth [goal] or playing well enough defensively that you don't let a team back in it. We allowed them to gain some confidence and some momentum. Their gain was out loss, and from there it was anyone's game."

Game Notes:

Mike Grier was roaming the dressing room on crutches after the game, three days after undergoing knee surgery. Former Sharks Al Iafrate, David Maley and Gary Suter were in attendance.


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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
MIN 0 2 1 1 4
SJ 2 1 0 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 19 (Clowe, Michalek), 11:23. 2, SJ, Clowe 22 (Blake, Michalek), 15:15.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Pavelski 20 (Vlasic, Michalek), 9:00. 4, MIN, Koivu 17 (Bergeron, Burns), 17:52. 5, MIN, Bouchard 15 (Johnsson), 19:18.
3rd period - 6, MIN, Zidlicky 11 (Johnsson), 12:23.
Overtime - 7, MIN, Koivu 18 (Burns, Skoula), 4:46.
Penalties
1st period - Johnsson, MIN (holding), 19:45.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Clutterbuck, MIN (high sticking), 17:04.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
MIN- Backstrom 35 32
SJ - Boucher 36 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
MIN 11 11 11 3 36
SJ 12 9 9 5 35
Power Play Conversion
MIN 0 of 0
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Miko Koivu
Brent Burns
Joe Pavelski
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Leggo, Shick. Linesmen: Cameron, Heyer.

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