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Santa brings Nabokov a shutout, sends a lump of coal to Vancouver, who anticipated a gift-wrapped Sundin

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The Sharks scored 5 goals in the first 20:43 of the game to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 at the HP Pavilion, in the last NHL game going into the Christmas break.  Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider was pulled in favor of Curtis Sanford after giving up 5 goals on 15 shots.  Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season (his first coming against Anaheim).

The game featured the return of Steve Bernier and Rob Davison, who were traded last season to the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders (respectively), before reuniting in Vancouver during the offseason. 

The home crowd was also treated to an intermission highlight-reel performance - read on for more.

FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

  • Jonathan Cheechoo checks his old teammate Steve Bernier against the boards.  Bernier was traded to Buffalo last season before being acquired by Vancouver in the offseason.  For what it's worth, here's a look at the last time Bernier suited up in teal.
  • Devin Setoguchi has 2 chances at scoring before the 2:00 mark, including one from a pass by Joe Thornton.
  • GOAL (Rob Blake) = Jonathan Cheechoo finally gets another point (an assist) when his shot goes just wide off of Cory Schneider's net.  The puck rebounds straight off of the end boards, allowing Rob Blake to seize it and wrist it past the Canucks' netminder at 4:22, for his 6th goal of the season.  Ryane Clowe gets the extra assist.  The Sharks' first goal of the night comes on just their 4th shot. 
  • Daniel Sedin gets off Vancouver's first shot of the night, at 5:29, from the left circle.
  • Penalty = Henrik Sedin, for roughing at 5:38.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL (Patrick Marleau) = After Patrick Marleau's cross-crease pass is missed by Setoguchi, the Sharks captain wrists one of his own from the right circle, just 17 seconds into the power play at 5:55.  Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle assist on the Sharks' 2nd goal, on their 2nd consecutive shot (their 5th overall).  "Oh Captain My Captain"'s goal is his 18th of the year.
  • Penalty = Mattias Ohlund boards Tom Cavanagh in Vancouver's end; Jody Shelley jumps in the fray.  Ohlund is sent to the box at 6:29.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL (Devin Setoguchi) = Dan Boyle passes to Patrick Marleau, and our captain fires it to The Gooch, who tips it in past Schneider at 7:09, just 40 seconds into the Sharks' second power play.  Score = 3-0, San Jose.  Shots on goal = 7-1.  The Gooch's goal is his 17th of the year.
  • Penalty = Bench minor against Vancouver for too many men, served by Kyle Wellwood at 9:20.  Sharks go on their third power play, while the Canucks go on their third penalty kill.
  • Penalty = Canucks' defenseman Willie Mitchell shoots the puck into the crowd from Vancouver's end, earning him a delay of game penalty.  Sharks go on the 5-on-3 for 26 seconds, at 10:54. 
  • Penalty = After the Canucks' keep the Sharks from scoring on the 5-on-3, the Sharks go BACK to the 5-on-3 for a minute 17 seconds, as Alex Burrows is called for hooking Ryane Clowe.  The delayed penalty begins at 11:37.
  • Sharks manage just one shot during the 5-on-3, and none during the 5-on-4.  Shots on goal 11-2 at 13:45.
  • Canucks' defenseman Alexander Edler gets bloodied up in the face around the 18 minute mark, and is treated at the bench.
  • End of period.  Score = 3-0.  Shots on goal = 13-4.

ON ICE TRIVIA / SKILLS COMPETITION (for those of you not at the game)

Normally not worth reporting, the first intermission's entertainment featured a trivia challenge incorporated into a skills competition.  Two (male) contestants each held up ABC cards in response to 3 multiple choice questions.  Whoever answered a question correctly woud advance from the goal line to the blue line, then red line, then opposite blue line.  Wherever the contestant ended up at the end of 3 questions would be the point from which he would attempt to shoot a puck into the far net.

All the questions had to do with cities.  Could you answer them?

  1. Where will the Sharks travel to on December 29?
  2. In which city does the team that began as the Quebec Nordiques currently play?
  3. This city's team will compete against the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field for the Winter Classic.

One contestant answered two correctly (the last two questions).  The other missed all 3.  Thus, the one that answered 2 out of 3 advanced to the red line, while the other lingered back at the goal line.

Fortunately for the one who missed everything, he had obviously played hockey before (you could tell as he set up his shot).  He shoveled that puck from goal line to goal line, dead center into the goal.  Ridiculous.  His opponent hit the post from the red line, proving that sometimes brawns are better than brains.

 

SECOND PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

  • GOAL (Joe Thornton) = Just 24 seconds into the period, Joe Thornton gently sweeps the puck around Schneider's extended left skate, which does not close the gap between the goaltender and the post.  Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau assist on Thornton's 9th goal of the year.
  • GOAL (Tomas Plihal) = Before the crowd can finish taking their seats, they are on their feet again, when Tomas Plihal intercepts Ryan Kesler's pass from the boards, and wrists it past Schneider from the slot at 0:43.  Plihal's unassisted goal is his 4th of the season.
  • GOALTENDING CHANGE = After letting up 5 goals on 15 shots in the first 20:43 of the game, Cory Schneider is done... for a while.  Enter Curtis Sanford, who played the night before against the Ducks in Vancouver.
  • Jamie McGinn has a great individual effort up the left boards, though his nifty stick work is thwarted by Vancouver.
  • Vancouver gets their first shot of the period (and their 5th overall) at 1:38.
  • Dan Boyle sets up Joe Pavelski, and Joe Pah gets 2 tries to break Sanford, in vain.
  • Penalty = The Sharks' first penalty of the night comes to Jonathan Cheechoo for interference at 3:22.
  • Mr. K. could be wrong, but he believes that there was nearly an own goal by San Jose, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic tried to clear the puck from behind the net, and got it a little too close to the goal.  No damage done, however.  Anyone see what Mr. K. is talking about?
  • Nabokov is tested heavily around the 6 minute mark (after the Sharks kill the Cheechoo penalty), and pulls Patrick Roy-style moves to make 2 quick saves before covering up.  The shots on goal are 7-5 for the period, favoring Vancouver, though the score is still 5-0.
  • Noticing the change in shot output, the Sharks fire back, including Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who sets off a rocket towards Sanford.  His glove save at 7:26 erases the threat.  The Sharks are now 9-7 in shots for the period, having made 4 in just 90 seconds.
  • Vancouver evens up the shots for the period, causing Nabokov to make diving cover ups to preserve the 5 goal lead. 
  • Douglas Murray and Steve Bernier start shoving each other at the boards.  Ah, together again at last...
  • Penalty = Tomas Plihal, hooking at 14:57.
  • During the penalty kill, Patrick Marleau gets an attempt for a shorthanded goal 16:45.
  • Nabby gets a ridiculous glove save in the final minutes.
  • End of the period.  Score the same.  Shots on goal are 26-20 total, but Vancouver is up 16-13 for the period. 

THIRD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

  • Marcel Goc wins the faceoff against Ryan Kesler.  The Sharks, by the way, have won all 3 opening faceoffs tonight.
  • Nabokov makes a blistering 4 saves in quick succession.  The shots for the period are 5-1, Vancouver, after 6 minutes of play.
  • Penalty = Shane O'Brien, high sticking at 8:07.  This is Vancouver's 6th penalty for the night.  The Canucks kill the penalty successfully, and even put up 4 shots despite being shorthanded.
  • Tomas Plihal shoves former teammate Rob Davison by Sanford's net after a cover up - Davison responds in kind, at 12:19.
  • Jason Jaffray rushes past Douglas Murray, and Nabokov averts the cross-crease pass that follows at about 15:15.
  • Jody Shelley lays out Taylor Pyatt around 18:15.
  • Final.  Sharks win 5-0.  Vancouver narrowly outshoots the Sharks 33-31.  First star of the night - Patrick Marleau (1 goal, 2 assists).  #2 star - Evgeni Nabokov (second shutout of the season).  #3 star - Dan Boyle (2 assists).

 

NERD NOTES

  • The Canucks were the last team in the Western Conference that the Sharks had not yet faced this season.  The two teams will meet again twice in January, and a final time in March.
  • The meeting between the two clubs was the last NHL game before Dec. 26. 
  • Dan Boyle led all players in ice time, with 23:09.  Only he and Christian Ehrhoff had more than 20 minutes of TOI for San Jose.
  • Every Shark had a plus-rating tonight except for the fourth line of Shelley-Cavanagh-McGinn, as well as Brad Lukowich and (wait for it) Dan Boyle, whose 2 assists were both on the power play.  Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rob Blake were both plus-2.
  • Patrick Marleau had the most shots of any player, with 5, while Daniel Sedin led his Canucks with 4 shots.
  • The Sharks won 68.8% of the faceoffs tonight (32 to 22).
  • Curtis Sanford didn't crack on any of the 16 shots that he faced... something San Jose should keep in mind when they face him again (along with Mats Sundin) in Vancouver on January 10... Which will be the second of back-to-back games for San Jose, because they'll face the Edmonton Oilers the night before.  (Crap - Mr. K.'s birthday present to himself might not go over so well, after all...)
  • Milan Michalek was still out for San Jose - his 3rd straight game.  Get well soon, Milan.
  • The Sharks just need to beat the New York Islanders at home on January 3, and they'll have gone more than halfway through the home schedule (41 games) without a regulation loss.  They are now 18-0-2 at home... stupid Ellis and Roloson.
  • The Sharks win helped keep them afloat in the overall standings, as both Detroit and Boston won last night.  The Sharks have 57 points to the Bruins' 54 (each with 34 games played), and the Red Wings have 50 points with one game in hand.  Guess we'll have to pull extra hard for the home team on January 1st at Wrigley...
  • Torrey Mitchell skated for the first time on Tuesday!  He should be back in 2-3 weeks, or roughly (by Mr. K.'s assessment) no later than the home game against the Calgary Flames on January 15th.

The Sharks begin a 3 game roadtrip on Saturday, starting with the pesky St. Louis Blues, and continuing with the Dallas Stars before heading into a New Year's Eve smackdown in the Twin Cities. 

Merry Christmas, all.  GO SHARKS.