Sharks 4, Wild 1
SAN JOSE, Calif. --
The San Jose Sharks played host to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion at San Jose. Looking to rebound from their 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, the Sharks came out with authority and took a 1-0 lead on the third shift of the game.
The unusual line combination of Joe Thornton
, Joe Pavelski
and Curtis Brown broke through for the game’s first tally at 2:39 of the first. With three natural centers on the ice, it was the youngster Pavelski who took the draw while Thornton lined up in the slot. Pavelski won the draw cleanly back to Thornton who ripped a slap shot, but the shot was blocked before it could get through to Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
Thornton regained control of the puck after his shot attempt was blocked and quickly moved it to Craig Rivet at the point. Rivet moved into the corner in the Wild zone and sent a centering pass that was slammed home by Pavelski for the 1-0 lead.
Wild forward and offensive threat Marian Gaborik nearly tied the game with 15:27 to play in the opening stanza when he snuck in behind the Sharks defense. Marc-Edouard Vlasic
was back-checking hard on the play and was able to distract Gaborik while Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made a strong save moving to his left to keep the Wild off the scoresheet.
Steve Bernier drew the period’s only penalty when a solid forecheck forced Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster to take a hooking penalty. The Sharks power play was unable to extend the lead as San Jose took a 1-0 lead to the locker room after one period of play.
Sandis Ozolinsh had a point-blank chance to make it 2-0 game on a perfect feed from Captain Patrick Marleau
and Steve Bernier early in the second, but Backstrom made a strong push to his right and was able to take away the lower half of the net.
Less than a minute after Ozolinsh’s chance, Mike Grier converted on a one-timer from Torrey Mitchell
and Patrick Rissmiller and made it 2-0 game. Grier’s goal with 15:43 to play in the second seemed to jump-start the Sharks offense as San Jose’s relentless attack struck twice more.
With 11:12 left in the second, Bernier made it 3-0 on a seeing-eye shot from the faceoff circle to Backstrom’s right. Hard work down low by Marcel Goc freed up the puck and Bernier was able to get enough on the shot to sneak it into the Minnesota cage.
|Sharks right wing Steve Bernier is hugged by teammates Marcel Goc and Patrick Marleau after one of Bernier's two second period goals against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bernier scored his second of the night four and a half minutes later on a power play set up by Goc. With Minnesota defender Brent Burns in the box for slashing, Bernier finished a second-effort shot after Pavelski’s attempt careened off the post. The goal made it a 4-0 game, a lead the Sharks would take into the locker room after two periods of play.
Tempers flared at the midpoint of the third when Kyle McLaren and Wild forward Aaron Voros dropped the gloves after a heated exchange in front of the sharks net. McLaren earned the slight edge in the scrap against the very gritty Voros. Wild enforcer Todd Fedoruk challenged Alexei Semenov moments after the first scrap and the Sharks defender engaged as the two traded heavy punches.
After a questionable interference call on Rissmiller with 9:07 to play, the Wild capitalized after just five seconds with the man advantage. Branko Radivojevic salted Nabokov’s shutout bid with the assists going to Pavol Demitra and Gaborik.
Minnesota pressured in the closing minutes of the third, but the Sharks preserved their 4-1 victory on home ice.
Forwards Curtis Brown and Marcel Goc returned to the lineup, replacing Jonathan Cheechoo (groin) and Jeremy Roenick (knee) who are out. Defenseman Kyle McLaren also returned to the lineup, swapping places with Matt Carle.
Marleau – Goc – Pavelski
Michalek – Thornton – Setoguchi
Rissmiller – Mitchell – Grier
Brown – Bernier
McLaren – Vlasic
Ehrhoff – Rivet
Murray – Ozolinsh
Nabokov – Patzold
The Sharks continue their four-game home stand on Thursday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks. The game is set for the traditional 7:30 PM (Pacific) start and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in high-definition, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
From the AP Wire
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) --
Instead of fretting and fuming over a blowout loss to Buffalo last weekend, the San Jose Sharks threw a holiday party - and then got back to business Tuesday night with one of their most comprehensive wins of the season.
Steve Bernier scored two goals and Evgeni Nabokov made 36 saves in the Sharks' fifth victory in six games, 4-1 over the Minnesota Wild.
Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who moved back into a first-place tie with Dallas in the Pacific Division standings by winning at home for just the second time in six games since Nov. 12.
|Minnesota Wild right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard (96) is defended by San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) in the first period on Dec. 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
After Nabokov was yanked from an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Sabres on Saturday night, San Jose calmly returned from its holiday revelry with 60 more minutes of its usually solid defense, led by its workhorse goalie.
"I expected us to bounce back," said Sharks coach Ron Wilson, who shuffled his lineup without injured forwards Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick. "We didn't even talk about that game. We focused on the things we need to do, and we did them."
Those things include superb defensive play all over the ice. Though Minnesota took a season-high 37 shots, few really threatened Nabokov, who has started every game this season while the Sharks have given up just 66 goals - fewest in the Western Conference.
"Any time you lose big, you want to come back, especially in your own building," said Nabokov, a one-man show in net since co-starter Vesa Toskala's departure to Toronto in an offseason trade. "They were trying to really put everything on the net. That's their style, and they try to capitalize on the rebounds. We knew what to expect, and I think our whole defense did a good job."
Niklas Backstrom stopped 26 shots for the Wild, who have lost three of four. Branko Radivojevic ended Nabokov's bid for his fifth shutout of the season on a power-play goal with 9:02 to play, but the Wild couldn't raise their game to the Sharks' level.
"We played a good team that got beat bad in their previous game," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "They were ready to perform as good as they could, and they did. We didn't give them great chances, but they found ways to score goals."
Mike Grier also scored for the Sharks, whose mediocre play at home has kept them from rising to the top of the West. The win was only San Jose's fifth at the Shark Tank, matching three teams for the NHL's fewest home victories.
"Everyone knows it's been a tough ride for us at home," Grier said. "It's good to get feeling good about ourselves."
A day after Lemaire called out his most skilled forwards for their lack of production, the Wild's drought continued.
|Sharks right wing Steve Bernier celebrates along with teammate Patrick Marleau after scoring against the Minnesota Wild in the second period on Dec. 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marian Gaborik hasn't scored a goal in five games, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard has no goals in 15 games. Pavol Demitra has just one since Nov. 1 while struggling with a groin injury, and Brian Rolston has two goals in his last 16 games.
"You can't hide this," Lemaire said. "If you're playing good teams well and not winning, it shows you you're not strong enough."
Pavelski opened the scoring in the first period with a goal on a rebound of defenseman Craig Rivet's shot. After Grier scored early in the second period, Bernier added two goals in 4 1/2 minutes, the second on a power play for his first multigoal game of the season.
"We played most of the game on our heels, and they skated circles around us," Minnesota forward Aaron Voros said. "After the first period we were ahead in shots, but the second period was awful."
Radivojevic scored his third goal of the season in front of Nabokov's net.
Notes: The Sharks put Cheechoo and Roenick on injured reserve, keeping them out for at least one week. Cheechoo, a disappointment this season with just four goals in 28 games, has an injured groin, while Roenick has a minor knee injury. ... The Wild finish up their five-game road trip with back-to-back games in Southern California this weekend. ... Sharks D Kyle McLaren rocked Voros in a third-period fight. A few minutes later, Todd Fedoruk bested San Jose's Alexei Semenov.
|Three star selections