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Opportunity knocks, Sharks score
SJ pounces on weary Canucks
12/23/08 - By Mike Lee

Opportunities was the theme of the game in San Jose on Tuesday night, as the Sharks jumped on a tired Vancouver Canucks team early and coasted to a 5-0 white washing at HP Pavilion. Five different Sharks scored goals for the Sharks, who win for the 17 time on home ice this season. Evgeni Nabokov turned aside all 33 shots he faced to earn his 42nd career shutout, and 3rd of the season.

The road weary Canucks didn’t get into San Jose until 3am Tuesday morning after knocking off the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night in Southern California , and their fatigue showed. San Jose used that opportunity to the fullest, deflating their visitors early.

"We knew they had a tough game last night," said Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. "We wanted to come out and establish our game early."

Rob Blake got the snowball rolling down hill with his 6th goal of the season 4 minutes into the opening period. Jonathan Cheechoo tried jamming a shot from the top of the crease on Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, but the puck kicked just outside the left post. Blake pinched from the left point on the play and scooped up the rebound before depositing a shot into the Vancouver net.

"For us to come in here tonight I think three things needed to happen," said Canucks head coach Allain Vigneault. "One, you can't turn the puck over against a team that has that much offensive skill. The second thing that needed to happen was we needed to stay out of penalty trouble. The third thing we needed was a couple of saves early. They were good goals on their part, but sometimes you just need a couple of saves."

A flurry of Canuck penalties would really propel the Sharks. A roughing penalty to typically mild mannered Henrik Sedin at 5:38 would setup a Patrick Marleau goal 17 seconds later. Marleau used a Joe Thornton screen to slip a top shelf shot past Schneider after circling from around the back of the Vancouver net.

"We didn't want to give them any opportunities on the power play," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. " I thought we worked hard enough early in the game to create our own chances."

Mathias Ohlund put the Sharks right back on the power play with a boarding penalty, and just like that it was 3-0 after Devin Setoguchi redirected the puck on a set play. Parked in the high slot, Setoguchi altered the trajectory of a Patrick Marleau blast from the right point for his 17th goal of the season.

Rather than roll over, the Canucks regrouped in the second half of the period, stringing together several scoring chances. That momentum would get squashed in the opening minute of the 2nd period.

San Jose took the opening face-off of the 2nd period and quickly deposited it past Schneider for the 4-0 lead. Setoguchi threw the puck on net with Thornton parked right on the doorstep. Thornton used his long wingspan to grab the loose puck and guide it around Schneider’s left skate, which fell just short of the right post.

A bad turnover by Mason Raymond in the Canucks zone 19 seconds later, netted the Sharks 5th goal of the game. Rather than skating the puck up the left wing boards, Raymond elected to pass the puck through the slot. Tomas Plihal picked off the pass the snapped a 25-foot just inside the left post.

"It's not just our team," Vigneault said. "They've lost four games this year. They are the cream of the crop right now, and they showed it tonight.

Vigneault pulled Schneider in favor of Curtis Sanford, who stopped all 8 shots he faced to close out the period unscathed.

Vancouver tried to rally in the 3rd period, out-shooting the Sharks 13-5, but Nabokov had plenty of clean looks as his defense did a nice job of clearing out shooting lanes.

"We can go home happy, the players go home happy and they can enjoy the two days," McLellan added.

Given that 6 of next 7 games are on the road, the Sharks should take all the opportunity they can get to rest up.

Game Notes:

The Sharks set a franchise record for fastest 5 goals in a game (20:43). The previous record was set earlier this season in Calgary (21:18), which broke a 16 year-old team record. Nabokov sits tied for the league lead in wins with 19. Brett Sutter, a former Jr. Sharks, and son of former Sharks coach Darryl Sutter, made his NHL debut for the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.


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1 2 3 T
VAN 0 0 0 0
SJ 3 2 0 5
1st period - 1, SJ, Blake 6 (Cheechoo, Clowe), 4:11 . 2, SJ, Marleau 18 (Thornton, Boyle), 5:55 , (pp). 3, SJ, Setoguchi 17 (Marleau, Boyle), 7:09 , (pp).
2nd period - 4, SJ, Thornton 9 (Setoguchi, Marleau), 0:24. 5, SJ, Plihal 4 (unassisted), 0:43.
3rd period - None.
1st period - H. Sedin, VAN (roughing), 5:38 ; Ohlund, VAN (boarding), 6:29 ; Bench, VAN (too many men), 9:20 ; Mitchell, VAN (delay of game – puck over glass), 10:54 ; Burrows, VAN (hooking), 11:37.
2nd period - Cheechoo, SJ (interference), 3:22 ; Plihal, SJ (hooking), 14:57.
3rd period - O’Brien, VAN (high sticking), 8:07.
Shots Saves
VAN - Schneider 15 10
VAN - Sanford 16 16
SJ - Nabokov 33 33
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VAN 4 16 13 33
SJ 13 13 5 31
Power Play Conversion
VAN 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Evgeni Nabokov
Dan Boyle
Referees: Ciamaga, Leggo. Linesmen: Cameron, Heyer.

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