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Miserable trip ends on a high note
Sharks snap losing streak with 4-1 win in Minnesota
3/23/10 - By Mike Lee -

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan focused his team on getting back to basics on Tuesday night, and that started with defense. Wrapping up their six-game road trip in Minnesota where offense hasn’t exactly been overwhelming, San Jose applied a simple approach to defense and it paid off with a 4-1 win. The victory snaps a season high six-game losing streak. Evgeni Nabokov faced a paltry 19 shots, due in part to his defense, which clamped down on the Wild.

The only goal Nabokov surrendered came on a Minnesota power play midway through the game. San Jose ’s defense was workmanlike on both ends of that goal. With the win and Phoenix ’s loss to Chicago , the Sharks jump back into the Pacific Division lead and the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. San Jose has a one point lead in the division and a game in hand on Phoenix with nine games to play.

San Jose got off to a good start by simply scoring the game’s first goal. Joe Pavelski put the Sharks on top 5:12 in to the game on a feed from Patrick Marleau. Pavelski whipped a shot from the bottom of the left circle past Niklas Backstrom to snap one of the most troubling trends of the road trip. San Jose had given up the first goal in all five games on the trip leading up to Pavelski’s tally.

An interference penalty to Manny Malhotra with 1:55 left in the period gave the Wild an opportunity to tie the game before the 1st intermission. Joe Thornton just missed making it a 2-0 game when a puck deflected to him at center ice, creating a short-handed chance. The centerman skated in on Backstrom, but his shot was knocked aside by the Wild netminder.

Dan Boyle rang a shot off the left post after Wild defenseman Nick Schultz was sent off for hooking at 4:06 of the 2nd period. San Jose would squander the chance with few attempts at taking the puck to the net.

Joe Thornton would put the Wild on a power play at 7:10 of the period, but Guillaume Latandresse evened things up with a holding the stick penalty a minute later. The Sharks would use the extra ice to push their lead to 2-0.

Dany Heatley took a Marc-Edouard Vlasic feed along the let wing boards, before heading to the net. With Malhotra as an option on his right, Heatley made Backstrom think about two options. The Sharks forward carried the puck to the top of the crease before sliding a backhand shot past Backstrom for his 38th goal of the season.

A Torrey Mitchell interference penalty put the Sharks on the PK with 9 minutes to play in the period, and Mikko Koivu just missed converting with a shot that clanked off the right post. Lantandresse would make up for that miss with his 27th goal of the season, while Evgeni Nabokov was flopping around in the crease like a fish.

Torrey Mitchell gave the Sharks some breathing room just 17 seconds into the 3rd period with just his 2nd goal of the season. Mitchell sent a one-time chance from the right dot after Ryane Clowe slid a pass to his line-mate from the right corner.

A cross-checking penalty to Heatley put the Wild on the power play with 3:31 to play, but Minnesota could not capitalize.

Wild head coach Todd Richards pulled Backstrom with a minute to play, but the Sharks converted an empty-net chance when Thornton carried the puck up the ice for the east deposit.

Game Notes:

Sharks forward Scott Nichol was scratched from Tuesday night's game. Jed Ortmeyer made his way back into the lineup after missing Sunday's game in Edmonton.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 2 4
MIN 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 22 (Marleau, Malhotra), 5:12.
2nd period - 2, MIN, Heatley 38 (Vlasic, Blake), 8:35. 3, MIN, Latandresse 27 (Ebbett, Burns), 12:44, (pp).
3rd period - 4, SJ, Mitchell 2 (Clowe, Blake), 0:17. 5, SJ, Thornton 19 (Clowe, Blake), 19:18, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Scott, MIN (boarding), 8:31; Malhotra, SJ (interference), 18:05.
2nd period - Koivu, MIN (hooking), 0:34; Schultz, MIN (hooking), 4:06; Thornton , SJ (hooking), 7:10; Latandresse, MIN (holding the stick), 8:07; Mitchell, SJ (interference), 11:00; Clutterbuck, MIN (boarding), 13:12.
3rd period - Heatley, SJ (cross checking), 16:29.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 19 18
MIN - Backstrom 16 13
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 7 4 16
MIN 9 5 5 19
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
MIN 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Guilaume Latandresse
Dan Boyle
Attendence
18,551
Officials
Referees: Martell, Sutherland. Linesmen: Heyer, McElman.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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