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Sharks blow 3-1 lead, lose to Canes
Missed opportunities catch up to bite SJ
2/5/09 - By Mike Lee

Rust, rather than rest. That was the theme of the night after the Sharks resumed play after a five day hiatus between games. That rust resulted in a 4-3 shootout lose to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at HP Pavilion. San Jose squandered a 3-1 lead, which was capped by former Shark Ray Whitney's tying goal in the 3rd period. Hurricanes goaltender Michael Leighton turned aside 37 shots, and 2 of 3 attempts in the shootout to steal the win for Carolina.

Missed opportunities by the Sharks would bite San Jose, who converted on 1-of-6 power play chances, including a 4-minute double-minor penalty to Matt Cullen that went by the wayside when Joe Pavelski started the power play by tripping an opponent for a 2-minute infraction himself.

"They weren't in our end a lot," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "They didn't have us running around a lot, but they did capitalize. We made some errant passes that allowed them a few scoring chances. I don't know how much it was 'team' tonight. It was more 'individual'."

San Jose controlled the 1st half of the game, out-shooting the Hurricanes 16-9 in the opening period. Ryane Clowe would convert at 12:23 of the period for the game's first goal after a Milan Michalek shot pin-balled off Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Clowe was driving to the net, when the puck magically appeared in front of him for the easy tap in.

Michalek would setup the Sharks second goal at 3:10 of the 2nd period, by sliding a pass to defenseman Alexei Semenov, who one-timed a 50-foot slapper for his 1st goal of the season. The puck appeared to bounce off the ice as it approached the net, handcuffing Leighton.

Carolina cut the Sharks lead in half less than 2 minutes later when Matt Cullen converted on a penalty shot. With Eric Staal and Michalek both in the box for roughing, Cullen intercepted a Sharks pass at the San Jose blueline during the ensuing 4-on-4. The Hurricanes centerman raced up ice, but was hauled down from behind by Christian Ehrhoff.

Staal would head back to the box for tripping Pavelski at 6:09of the period, and the Sharks would cash in.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his 4th goal of the season on the power play, depositing a Ryane Clowe feed at 7:16 of the period. Clowe skated along the goal line on the right side before sending a backhand pass through the crease to Vlasic, who pinched in from the left point.

Jonathan Cheechoo drew Cullen's high-sticking double minor moments after the Vlasic goal, but the chance died on the ensuing faceoff with Pavelski's tripping minor.

That would prove to be a vital mistake by San Jose, who had the chance to bury Carolina. Instead, the Hurricanes skated 4-on-4 for 2 minues, then killed off the remaining 2 minutes of Cullen's penalty.

Sergei Samsonov made it a 3-2 game with 5:10 remaining in the period, deflecting rookie Jakub Petruzalek shot from the left corner. Samsanov was cutting to the net with Ehrhoff draped all over him, but the centerman brushed aside the defenseman and deposited his 10th of the season past Evgeni Nabokov.

Whitney knotted things up 7:30 into the 3rd period after the Sharks turned the puck over in their own zone. Whitney swatted Pavelski's stick out of his hands after feeding Cullen in the slot. He Sharks centerman could only chase Whitney, who took a return feed and punched it home for the 3-3 tie.

"We were able to weather the storm early and I thought we got better as the game went on," said Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice. "And for our goaltender to play as well as he needed to play, it was big. You hope psychologically there is a lift too, and we understand that this has only happened a handful of times in this building this year and that it should be good for our team."

San Jose had another chance on the power play in the period, when Tuumo Ruutu took an interference penalty near the midway mark of the period, but a discombobulated Sharks power play couldn't generate any pressure near the net.

"Their three goals were the result of three turnovers," said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a wrist injury. "At this point in the season, you can't let that happen. It's definitely a game we gave them."

Both teams played tentatively in the extra frame generating only 5 shots on net between them.

McLellen opted to shoot first in the shootout, sending out Clowe, Pavelski and Michalek. Clowe put a shot high that Leighton deflected safely away, then Pavelski missed the net altogether with a hesitant attempt. Ruutu converted on the Hurricanes first chance with a wrister that beat Nabokov stick side. With a chance to end it, Cullen mishandled the puck to give the Sharks new life. Michalek came through with a pretty backhand shot, but Samsonov ended it with a shot similar to Ruutu's.

"It's time for us to get out on the road," said McLellan. "We've been at home a lot. I think it will be good for our hockey club to get out and compete in some hostile environments. There will be some real good games for us and I'm looking forward to it."

Games Notes:

With Ryane Clowe's 20th goal tonight, the Sharks became the second NHL team this season to have three 20-goal players. The first was Pittsburgh (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Petr Sykora). Michalek's three assists tonight ties his own career single-game high. Cullen's penalty shot was the first surrendered by Nabokov since November 30, 2005, when Antti Miettinen of the Dallas Stars in the first period of a 4-1 Sharks loss.


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1 2 3 OT SO T
CAR 0 2 1 0 1 4
SJ 1 2 0 0 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Clowe 20 (Michalek, Pavelski), 12:23.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Semenov 1 (Michalek, Pavelski), 3:10. 3, CAR, Cullen 13 (penalty shot), 4:55. 4, SJ, Vlasic 4 (Clowe, Michalek), 7:16, (pp). 5, CAR, Samsonov 10 (Petruzalek), 14:50.
3rd period - 6, CAR, Whitney 17 (Cullen), 7:30.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Clowe (miss), Pavelski (miss), Michalek (goal). CAR: Ruutu (goal), Cullen (miss), Samsonov (goal).
1st period - Ryan, CAR (high sticking), 14:38; Michalek, SJ (boarding), 19:16.
2nd period - Staal, CAR (roughing), 3:43; Michalek, SJ (roughing), 3:43; Staal, CAR (tripping), 6:09; Cullen, CAR (high sticking - double minor), 8:59; Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 9:03; Bench, CAR (too many men), 18:27.
3rd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 4:42; Ruutu, CAR (interference), 8:53.
Shots Saves
CAR - Leighton 40 37
SJ - Nabokov 29 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
CAR 9 9 9 2 29
SJ 16 14 7 3 40
Power Play Conversion
CAR 0 of 2
SJ 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Anton Babchuk
Milan Michalek
Michael Leighton
Referees: Fraser, StPierre. Linesmen: Seitz, Sharrers.

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