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Sabre rattling kick starts San Jose
Buffalo wakes up Sharks offense in the 3rd period
1/23/10 - By Mike Lee -

Former Sharks Craig Rivet and Mike Grier made a return visit on Saturday night donning Buffalo Sabres uniforms, and their old teammates welcomed them back with a 5-2 drubbing. Sparked by a Sabres goal to start the 3rd period, San Jose rallied for three straight goals to break a tie wide open. Joe Pavelski and Jed Ortmeyer each scored a pair of goals and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 38 shots to earn his 30th win of the season.

For Rivet and Grier, it had to be a bittersweet playing against a team they helped build into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Rivet was traded before the 2008-09 season, but Grier was part of the playoff team that fell to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

“We weren’t the better team," siad SHarks head coach Todd McLellan. "We were getting out worked. I know that there was some concern about the tempo that we played at. I don’t think we worked hard enough in the first period. Not one bit.”

The pair looked as if they would help snap the Sharks 4-game win streak early. Buffalo jumped out to an early lead on Tim Connolly’s 13th goal of the season. With the Sabres controlling play in the Sharks zone Jason Pominville took a Jochen Hecht feed from behind the Sharks net, and slid a pass through the slot to Connolly on the right side for the 12-foot wrist shot.

Pavelski scored his first of the evening at 2:07 of the 2nd period after a strong forecheck by Manny Malhotra created a turnover in the Sabres zone. Buffalo defenseman Steve Montador tried to clear the puck as he backskated toward his own net, but Malhotra deflected the puck back to the end boards. He would out skate Montador to the puck then hit Pavelski in the slot for the one timer past goaltender Ryan Miller.

The Sharks got themselves into a bit of hot water a minute later after first taking a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Ortmeyer followed that up with a slashing penalty 62 seconds later, giving the Sabres a lengthy two-man advantage. The NHL’s top ranked penalty kill and a hot goaltender would help San Jose fend off the Sabres power play.

They came out hard," said Ortmeyer. "We knew they were a fast team. They were getting to loose pucks before us. They were testing Nabby right away. He did a good job of weathering the storm and keeping us in the game."

Dany Heatley put the Sharks on top with his 30th goal of the season, chipping a Joe Thornton pass past Miller from the Sabres doorstep. Thornton sent the feed from the right corner, and Heatley redirected the pass right between Miller’s pads.

Referee Steve Kozari sent Scot Nichol off with a questionable tripping call right before the 2nd intermission. Nichol allegedly tripped Derek Roy behind the Sharks net, but Kozari made the call from outside the blueline. Referee Dan Marouelli was positioned in the right corner wih a clear look at the play, but he kept his whistle in his pocket.

The penalty would carry over to the 3rd period and provide the Sharks with their biggest test of the night. That test being hoe the Sharks would respond after Nabokov allowed his only mistake of the evening to knot the game at 2-2. Pominville carried the puck into the Sharks zone and put a shot on net from a tight angle on the left side. Nabokov looked as if he was expecting Pominville to circle around the Sharks net, getting caught flat footed as the Sabres forward bounced the puck off the netminder’s left pad and into the goal.

The goal seemed to change the whole approach the Sharks took to the game. It spurned San Jose to play some of the most inspired hockey of the season.

"He [Nabby] kept us in the game," Ortmeyer said of his netminder's play on Pominville's goal. "It was important for us to get a cushion for him and gets some pucks behind Miller."

Pavelski put the Sharks back on top at 6:31 on a gritty play in tight. Miller would make a stop on Devin Setoguchi’s 25-foot wrist shot from the slot, but the puck bounced behind him, where Pavelski lifted it home.

Ortmeyer made it 4-2 midway through the period on a blast from 18-feet after Ryane Clowe set him up with a pass from the right side. Ortmeyer stepped into the shot, blasting it just inside the left post.

San Jose was content with just dumping the puck into the neutral zone from that point forward in attempt to kill clock.

“We dipped our toe in the water rather than jumping in the lake," siad McLellan. We were really pushed hard in the fist period. We responded a little better later on. There were some good individual efforts but I think collectively we can be better.”

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff would pull Miller with just over a minute play, but the move would simply seal the game after Malhotra intercepted a Sabres pass, pushing it up to Nichol who had a head of steam up the left side. Nichol dished the puck to Ortmeyer for the empty-netter.

“We shouldn’t be happy when we don’t win," said Ruff. "Be happy with the effort but don’t be happy if you don’t win. That’s the message. We want to keep getting better, and getting better means winning.”

Game Notes:

The power play goal the Sharks surrenderd ended their streak of 34 consecutive penalties killed. San Jose hadn't given up a power play goal since January 6. The two goal game for Ortmeyer was a first for the Sharks forward.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
BUF 1 0 1 2
SJ 0 2 3 5
1st period -1, BUF, Connolly 13 (Pominville, Hecht), 7:19.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Pavelski 11 (Malhotra), 2:07. 3, SJ, Heatley 30 (Thornton, Blake), 14:00.
3rd period - 4, BUF, Pominville 14 ( Butler , Myers), 0:18, (pp). 5, SJ, Pavelski, 12 (Setoguchi, Vlasic), 6:31. 6, SJ, Ortmeyer 6 (Clowe, Nichol), 10:27. 7, SJ, Ortmeyer 7 (Nichol, Malhotra), 19:00, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Gausted, BUF (goaltender interference), 9:30; Gaused, BUF (roughing), 13:09; Staubitz, SJ (slashing), 13:09; Clowe, SJ (hooking), 15:18.
2nd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 2:52; Ortmeyer, SJ (slashing), 3:54; Mair, BUF (slashing), 9:15; Kaleta, BUF (roughing), 14:40; Staubitz, SJ (roughing), 14:40; Nichol, SJ (tripping), 18:47.
3rd period - Rivet, BUF (high sticking), 16:13; Stafford , BUF (hooking), 19:33.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
BUF - Miller 23 19
BUF - empty net 1 0
SJ - Nabokov 40 38
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
BUF 14 15 11 40
SJ 5 9 10 24
Power Play Conversion
BUF 1 of 4
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Joe Pavelski
Jed Ortmeyer
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Kozari, Marouelli. Linesmen: Pare, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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