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Sharks outlast Kings
Cheechoo scores winner in shootout
3/14/09 - By Mike Lee

The wide open race for a playoff spot in the NHL’s Western Conference means potential playoff implications for just about every team the Sharks must face between now and the second season. Saturday night meant a date with the Los Angeles Kings, a team scrambling to earn a spot. Combine the Kings urgency with a hot goaltender, and you have the makings of a Sharks let down. San Jose countered with the return of Evgeni Nabokov, who made 23 saves, and stopped 6 of 7 shooters in the shootout to help San Jose survive with a 2-1 win at HP Pavilion.

Los Angeles goaltender Erik Ersberg stymied the Sharks with a 38-save performance, keeping things interesting with several high light reel stops. Only a Jonathan Cheechoo goal in the 7th round of the shootout would end an otherwise spectacular performance by the Kings netminder.

For Cheechoo, it was a positive in a season which has been less than prosperous for the Sharks winger. After a couple of quick goals to start the season, Cheechoo has been relegated to 3rd line duty. Not the most opportune place for the former Rocket Richard Award winner to put pucks past opposing goaltenders.

After seeing Ersberg turn aside shots all night long, then stopping five of the first six shooters in the shootout, Cheechoo kept things simple and it paid dividends. Skating in on goal, Cheechoo skipped the attempt at some dazzling move, and instead, just put the puck on net. His backhand chance lifted past Ersberg and the Sharks had two points.

Things looked very different for the Sharks and Ersberg early on. After a fiery start, the Sharks looked ready to apply lots of pressure on Ersberg. Milan Michalek deflected a Joe Pavelski shot past Ersberg just 5:28 into the game for the 1-0 lead. Pavelski uncorked his shot from the top of the right circle, hitting Michalek’s stick in the slot.

The goal got the Kings attention, but it was a Brad Staubitz hit on Jack Johnson moments after the score that woke them up. Raitis Ivanans took exception to the hit and went after Staubitz. The ensuing fight was short lived, but it set the tone for the remainder of the evening.

Escaping the opening period by surrendering the lone Michalek goal, the Kings came out firing in the middle stanza. A series of shots on Nabokov off the period’s first shift ended with a Wayne Simmons shot past Nabokov. Alexander Frolov put the puck on net from the high slot, bouncing the puck to Simmons who deposited his 6th goal of the season.

An exchange of penalties led to one of two potentially catastrophic breaks for the Kings. After Ro Blake was sent off for tripping at 8:23 of the period, the Sharks used a strong forecheck to suppress the Kings and draw a high sticking penalty on Dustin Brown.

San Jose promptly gave up a breakaway chance to Simmons, that was denied by a spectacular save by Nabokov prevented the Kings from scoring. Patrick Marleau was also whistled on the play for hooking Simmons.

Getting shots on goal wasn’t San Jose ’s problem, it was putting them past Ersberg. The Sharks put up double digit shot counts in each of the three regulation periods, but Ersberg stood tall.

The Sharks dodged a bullet on the tail end of a Matt Greene delay of game penalty with 8 minutes to play, when a miscommunication resulted in a 2-on-none break for the Kings. Brown carried the puck directly on net, but failed to get a shot off and tried to dish the puck to Anze Kopitar on the right post. Nabokov stood up both shooters, almost mesmerizing the two Kings.

Kyle Quincey gift wrapped the game for San Jose by taking a tripping penalty with 18 seconds left in regulation. The penalty carried over into the overtime period, giving the Sharks a 4-on-3 advantage. The open space should have served the Sharks power play well, but they filed to convert. San Jose would go 0-for-8 on the man advantage.

Kopitar almost decided things in the overtime, when his shot from the right wing squeezed past Nabokov and sat precariously perched in the crease. The Sharks netminder covered the puck up, but not before several Kings tried to reach it.

Pavelski and Jack Johnson were the only players to convert in the shootout until Cheechoo got his shot past Ersberg. Nabokov ended things with a save on Edward Purcell’s backhand attempt.

Game Notes:

The Sharks sent defenseman Derek Joslin and goaltender Tomas Greiss back to Worcester on Saturday.


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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
LA 0 1 0 0 0 1
SJ 1 0 0 0 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Michalek 19 (Pavelski, Boyle), 5:28.
2nd period - 2, LA, Simmons 6 (Frolov, Handzus), 0:41.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Boyle, (miss), Pavelski (goal), Michalek (miss), Marleau (miss), Clowe (miss), Setoguchi (miss), Cheechoo (goal). LA: Kopitar (miss), Johnson (goal), Brown (miss), Doughty (miss), Frolov (miss), Handzus (miss), Purcell (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Ivanans, LA (fighting major), 5:51; Staubitz, SJ (fighting major) 5:51; Frolov , LA (hooking), 8:16.
2nd period - Doughty, LA (tripping), 5:13; Blake, SJ (tripping), 8:23; Brown, LA (high sticking), 10:26; Marleau, SJ (hooking), 10:56; Purcell, LA (hooking), 13:02; Nabokov, SJ (delay of game – illegal play goalie), 18:10; Handzus, LA (tripping) 18:52.
3rd period - Michalek, SJ (boarding), 1:33; Quincey, LA (slashing), 3:55; Greene , LA (delay of game – puck over glass), 10:31; Quincey, LA (tripping), 19:42.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
LA - Ersberg 39 38
SJ - Nabokov 24 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
LA 5 12 4 3 24
SJ 11 10 13 5 39
Power Play Conversion
LA 0 of 4
SJ 0 of 8
3 Stars of the Game
Eric Ersberg
Dan Boyle
Jonathan Cheechoo
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Meier, Walsh. Linesmen: McElman, Lazarowich.

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