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Thornton makes appearance at wrong time
Sharks blow 3rd period lead to end win streak
2/11/11 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks haven’t won in New Jersey in 11 years, and a lazy penalty by their captain was the catalyst to keep that streak alive as San Jose dropped a 2-1 decision at the Prudential Center. The loss was their first regulation loss in 11 games. A non-factor for most of the game, Joe Thornton took a bad hooking penalty right after San Jose had taken a 1-0 lead in the 3rd period. Logan Couture would follow that with a tripping penalty on Ilya Kovalchuk during the ensuing power play to give the Devils a 4-on-3 power play. New Jersey would tie the game seconds later, then Kovalchuk would bag the game winner with 4 minutes to play.

The loss ended the Sharks five-game winning streak, but it stung more knowing that San Jose had chipped away at the New Jersey defense and took the 3rd period lead. Thornton’s absence from the scoring was magnified by his ill-timed penalty and provided the Devils with the spark hey needed to grab the two points.

The loss prevented San Jose from keeping pace with the Dallas Stars, who beat Chicago in the shootout to push their lead to three points over San Jose. Anaheim’s win also draws the Ducks even in the standings with San Jose.

Skating against the tar that is a Jacques Lemaire coached team, San Jose put plenty of rubber on former Sharks netminder John Hedberg in the opening period. The Sharks would outshoot New Jersey 12-2 in the opening period.

Couture had a chance to push his goal total to 25 with a shot from the low slot 4 minutes into the game, but Hedberg snuffed out the shot with his chest protector.

Neither team would generate any serious scoring chances, although it was San Jose that controlled the puck for most of the period. An absence of any whistles also burned the period away at a brisk pace.

The Sharks would turn up the heat in the 2nd period, but Hedberg up to the task. Ryane Clowe almost tipped a Kyle Wellwood past Hedberg five minutes into the period.

San Jose missed on a golden opportunity when Hedberg lost his stick and his linemates couldn’t clear their own zone. The Sharks tried working the puck down low in front of the Devils net, but Lemaire’s defense collapsed and clogged up the area, preventing any rubber from getting to Hedberg.

Wellwood and Clowe teamed up again midway through the period on a passing sequence right in front of the Devils net, but a defender tied up Wellwood’s stick to prevent a redirect on net.

At the opposite end of the rink, Antti Niemi saw little action through the first two periods, but when he did, he was there to deny any pucks from threatening his net.

A wrap-around chance by Joe Pavelski with 7 minutes to play in the period failed to curl toward the net, keeping the game deadlocked at 0-0.

A relentless forecheck by San Jose kept the puck pinned in the New Jersey zone for much of the period. Wellwood would feed Logan Couture in front of Hedberg with 3 minutes remaining before the 2nd intermission, but the Devils goaltender got a pad down to stuff Couture’s scoring chance.

Brian Rolston would cut off Devin Setoguchi, who was trying to back-check after a Sharks turnover. The infraction would earn Rolston two minutes for interference, but the penalty would carry over to the 3rd period after the Sharks failed to convert in the 77 seconds of power play time they were afforded before the buzzer.

The carry over time would prove fruitless as well.

Another chance by Couture 4 minutes into the 3rd period was denied by a Hedberg kick save, but the puck kicked out to the slot. Unfortunately there were no Sharks in the vicinity to pounce on the juicy rebound.

Patrick Marleau would finally crack the defensive stand-off with his 21st goal of the year at 6:08 period. Niklas Wallin threw the puck on net from the left wing boards, catching Hedberg in the shoulder. Marleau had slipped behind defenseman Mark Frasier and was able to pick up the deflection and pound it home form just outside the right post.

Henrick Tallinder would take a hooking penalty 89 seconds after Marleau’s goal, but it immediately turned into a scoring chance when a pass in the Devils zone landed on Danius Zubrus stick. Zubrus steamed up ice, but Pavelski got back to fend off the breakaway chance. Thornton would take his hooking penalty moments later to even things up, but then Couture would trip Ilya Kovalchuk after New Jersey 41 seconds later to give the Devils a lengthy 4-on-3 power play.

Lemaire would use his timeout to draw up a game plan, and his players would execute it quickly. Rolston would step into a Kovalchuk feed in the high slot and crank it past Niemi to tie the game up.

Wellwood and Couture would team up for another scoring chance with six minutes left in regulation, but Hedberg would turn the chance aside from the seat of his pants.

New Jersey would grab the lead with 3:59 left in regulation when Ilya Kovalchuk whipped a shot on net from the right dot after Travis Zajac won a faceoff in the Sharks zone. Niemi seemed caught off guard by the shot, reacting late and allowing it to slip between his pads.

With the Sharks scrambling to get back in the game, Torrey Mitchell caught Zubrus with a stick underneath the visor to earn a 4 minute penalty for high sticking.

Game Notes:

Mitchell made his way back to the Sharks lineup after missing 11 games with a lower body injury. John McCarthy was assigned to Worcester to make space for Mitchell.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 1 1
NJ 0 0 2 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 1, SJ, Marleau 21 (Wallin, Pavelski), 6:08. 2, NJ, Rolston 8 (Kovalchuk, Elias), 9:12, (pp). 3, NJ, Kovalchuk 19 (Zajac), 16:01.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Rolston, NJ (interference), 18:43.
3rd period - Tallinder, NJ (hooking), 7:37; Thornton, SJ (hooking), 8:02; Couture, SJ (tripping), 8:45; Mitchell, SJ (high sticking – double minor), 17:41.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 23 21
NJ - Hedberg 32 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 12 8 32
NJ 2 9 12 23
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
NJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Ilya Kovalchuk
Johan Hedberg
Brian Rolston
Attendence
17,102
Officials
Referees: Pochmara, Peel. Linesmen: Devorski, Shewchyk.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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