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Last second heroics stun Canucks
Lemieux picks a thriller to kickoff comeback
1/20/09 - By Mike Lee

Claude Lemieux kicked off his tenure in San Jose on Tuesday night, and the Sharks treated him to whale of a welcome. Trailing the visiting Vancouver Canucks late, the Sharks scored with 39.1 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. Captain Patrick Marleau then sent the sellout HP Pavilion crowd into a frenzy with the game winning goal 3 minutes into the extra session.

Hopefully the 43-year-old Lemieux isn't taking heart medication, because the 2-1 stunner might not be the best way to ease the Sharks new elder statesman back into the game.

"The 2 games we have played in the last 72 hours have been complete opposites," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "Tonight was dumping it out and 5 guys in the neutral zone. We were lucky to pull the goalie and win in overtime. I like to see our go to people play like go to people the last few minutes and get the win."

Marleau snapped a cross-ice feed past Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, while the Sharks skated with a 4-on-3 advantage after Daniel Sedin was sent off for hooking a minute earlier.

The Canucks repeatedly ran pick plays in the overtime period in order to open up skating room for the puck handler. Referees Marc Joannette and Francois StLaurent let the interference infractions go, but they were forced to send Sedin off.

Joe Thornton setup Marleau's goal with the feed, moments after Marleau narrowly missed on a ply in front of the net. Thornton created that chance as well by centering a pass to Marleau as he cut past two Canuck defenders.

Timely passing was the theme of the hour for Thornton, who also setup the game tying score late in regulation. Trailing 1-0 for most of the game, McLellan was forced to pull goaltender Evgeni Nabokov in the final minute of the 3rd period.

With the Sharks crashing the Vancouver net, Thornton found a seam from behind the Canuck net and feathered a pass through the slot to Devin Setoguchi near the left circle. Setoguchi ripped the one-timer past Luongo, slipping the puck just between the Canucks goaltender and the left post.

"In general I thought we played a pretty solid road game," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. " We didn't give them much, but obviously, I think we were unlucky at the end there. Obviously a great player made a great play. It was more lucky that pass went through and there wasn't much to shoot at, but they were able to tie it up. Their winning goal - obviously I think the play should have been blown; you can't be poking your stick into the goal tender when the goalie's got the puck under him."

Luongo looked poised to earn the shutout as his defensive corps did a great job of clogging up the skating lanes all night. San Jose was held to 8 shots on goal in the opening period and 7 in the middle frame.

Taylor Pyatt gave the Canucks their 1-0 lead 12:38 into the game on a nifty feed from Henrik Sedin. Vancouver only put two shots on goal in the period, but one found the back of the net.

Sedin would spark an on-ice incident after the game had been decided. After the Sharks bench rushed to congratulate Marleau for scoring the game winner, players began to head back to the tunnel. Sedin was skating toward the visiting team door and appeared to intentionally run into Ryane Clowe.

Clowe did a 180 to exchange pleasantries with Sedin, but before he could, Shane O'Brien tried to intercede with his fists. Half the Canucks had already exited the ice, so they were outnumbered, but cooler heads prevailed. Referees and linesmen joined Vigneault in keeping the peace.

Vigneault put the loss in perspective follownig the game.

"I think the way we played tonight is the way we came to play and I said last game a lot of times when you go through some of these challenges toward the end, when you're looking for a win, there's a lot of games that you play well in. This was one, Columbus was one. We didn't [win], so we've got a couple of days here to refuel and it's a really important second half. We're right there with everybody else. At the beginning of the year, that's what people said, that we're going to be right there, and that's where we are."

Game Notes:

Lemieux skated 12 shifts, logging 7:08 of ice time, all in even-strength situations. The right winger was credited with 3 shots on goal and 3 hits.

"(Claude) Lemieux played well finished his checks and played seven in a half minutes," said McLellan. "I think he has got to feel good for himself after his first game back."


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1 2 3 OT T
VAN 1 0 0 0 1
SJ 0 0 1 1 2
1st period - 1, VAN, Pyatt 6 (H. Sedin, D. Sedin), 12:38.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Setoguchi 21 (Thornton, Marleau), 19:20.
Overtime - 3, SJ, Marleau 25 (Thornton, Pavelski), 3:08, (pp).
1st period - Sundin, VAN (cross checking), 4:26.
2nd period - D. Sedin, VAN (holding), 5:21; Semenov, SJ (hooking), 13:59; Ohlund, VAN (hooking), 18:00.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - D. Sedin, VAN (hooking), 2:17; O'Brien, VAN (roughing), 3:08.
Shots Saves
VAN - Luongo 29 27
SJ - Nabokov 14 13
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
VAN 2 6 6 0 14
SJ 8 7 10 4 29
Power Play Conversion
VAN 0 of 1
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Joe Thornton
Devin Setoguchi
Referees: Joannette, StLaurent. Linesmen: Wheler, Cormier.

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