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Rangers add to Sharks shootout woes
Sharks let points slip through their fingers
3/12/11 - By Mike Lee -

With the regular season down to a 13-game sprint, the Sharks need to put away teams like the New York Rangers. San Jose came within a shootout save of taking the two-points that were on the line Saturday night at HP Pavilion. The Sharks had the advantage after Dan Boyle scored in the 2nd round of the shootout, but former Phoenix Coyote Wojtek Wolski matched Boyle's goal in the 3rd round and Brandon Dubinsky handed the Sharks their second straight shootout loss in the 6th round with a goal.

The Pacific Division leaders maintain a 4-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the division crown, but a 7-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks and the division basement. That's how tight things are this season. Giving up the extra point to the Rangers after San Jose owned the 1st and 3rd periods is tough to swallow.

San Jose outplayed the Rangers for most of the evening, but shot themselves in the foot with little mistakes that allowed the Rangers to hang around.

Both teams played an up tempo game early in the contest. New York was looking to rebound from a poor performance in Anaheim on Wednesday night that displeased head coach John Tortarella. San Jose was looking to keep the momentum of their wild performance on Thursday night going. The Sharks jumped out to a big shot advantage early in the contest, but couldn't get anything past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Brandon Prust and Ben Eager dropped the gloves with 9 minutes remaining in the opening period, turning in a lengthy battle that ended with both players too tired to throw any more punches. Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy took a hooking penalty at 12:19 and the Sharks would respond quickly. Ryane Clowe scored his 22nd goal of the season after deflecting a shot off Marc Staal. Staal was caught with a high stick that went uncalled on the faceoff preceding the goal, jarring the Rangers defenseman. By the time he regained his wits, Clowe fired a shot that clipped him, before changing direction on Lundqvist.

San Jose's dominance through the first 15 minutes of the game would go by the wayside, when they let their guard down late in the period. The Rangers tied things up at 1-1 when Erik Christensen sent a one-time chance from the doorstep past Antti Niemi at 16:57. Defenseman Ian White made a nice play to control Vinnie Prospal behind the Sharks net, but he received no help as the Rangers forward reversed course and made the feed to Christensen from behind the Sharks net.

New York would grab the lead early in the 2nd period, after Michael Sauer slid a shot from the slot just inside the right post. White broke his stick his stick moments earlier, so Clowe tried to assist his defenseman by giving him his twig. That turned out to be the wrong decision, as the Sharks forward was the only player near Sauer when the rookie defenseman swept his shot home form the high slot.

Justin Braun saved Niemi's bacon with 8 min left in the period after Rangers rookie scoring leader Derek Stepan pumped a shot that trickled through the Shark netminder's pads. As the puck inched toward the Sharks goal before the rookie defenseman swept it safely away for the San Jose goal.

Staal laid out Kyle Wellwood with a questionable open-ice hit at the 16 minute mark that sent the Sharks forward's helmet sailing from between the circles to the boards. Wellwood was dazed by the hit, so Ben Eager stepped on the ice in his place. That would work well for the Sharks after Torrey Mitchell banked a shot off Eager and into the Rangers goal.

San Jose would outshoot New York 12-3 in the 3rd period, but Lundqvist showed why he has the most road wins of any goaltender in the NHL This season. He was forced to snare a one-tine chance by Jason Demers with 9 minutes left in regulation after the Sharks worked the puck deep and setup the pretty one-time chance from the slot.

The Sharks best chance to end things in regulation came with 2:30 to play when Eager and Joe Pavelski created a 2-on-1 break. Eager rushed the chance and put a shot right in Lundqvists chest pad, rather than try and draw the Rangers goaltender to the string side and make a pass to his wide open linemate.

Pavalski would also miss on a chance from the left side in the overtime period, when he pushed a shot over the crossbar,

In the shootout, Boyle scored as the second shooter, but Niemi couldn't make the stop on Wolski. The Sharks didn't help themselves when Clowe, Pavelski and Logan Couture all tried to go five-hole on consecutive chances that Lundqvist easily denied. Dany Heatley looked like he had the Rangers netminder beat with a more t his forehand, but Lundqvist got his right skate up against the post to deny the Sharks sniper.

Game Notes:

Referee Bill McCreary was making his final appearance as an on-ice official. The 26-year veteran plans to retire at the end of the season. He received an ovation from the sellout crowd during a stoppage.

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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
NYR 1 1 0 0 1 3
SJ 1 1 0 0 0 2
1st period - 1st: 1, SJ, Clowe 22 (Couture, Boyle), 12:30, (pp). 2, NYR, Christensen 10 (Prospal, Gaborik), 16:57.
2nd period - 3, NYR, Sauer 2 (Fedotenko, Prust), 1:16. 4, SJ, Eager 5 (Mitchell, Boyle), 16:26.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Marleau (miss), Boyle (goal), Clowe (miss), Pavelski (miss), Couture (miss), Heatley (miss). NYR: Christensen (miss), Zuccarello (miss), Wolski (goal), Anisimov (miss), Callahan (miss), Dubinsky (goal).
Penalties
1st period - Prust, NYR (fighting major), 11:07; Eager, SJ (fighting major), 11:07; Gilroy, NYR (hooking), 12:19; Couture, SJ (goaltender interference), 12:47.
2nd period - Callahan, NYR (slashing), 7:59; Prust, NYR (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:52; Eager, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:52.
3rd period - Callahan, NYR (hooking), 6:27.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
NYR - Lundqvist 33 31
SJ - Niemi 22 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
NYR 11 6 3 2 22
SJ 9 9 12 3 33
Power Play Conversion
NYR 0 of 1
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Henrik Lundqvist
Dan Dirardi
Dan Boyle
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Furlatt, McCreary. Linesmen: Racicot, Schachte.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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