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Owen Nolan and The Gooch return to action (with a goal apiece) to close 2008; Sharks lose to Wild 3-2 in O.T.

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 Doesn't he look better in teal?

 He's baaaaaaack.  And we're not talking about Setoguchi here (though we're glad he's back too - got a goal tonight!).

Former Nordique / Avalanche / SHARKS captain / Maple Leaf / Coyote / Flame, and current Wild child Owen Nolan returned to action tonight against his old team, and scored the first goal of the night.  Jacques Lemaire reported that Nolan was not 100%, but had asked the Minnesota coach if he could play that night.  Awww, how sweet of you, Owen...

Unfortunately, the Minnesota Wild beat the Sharks in overtime, 3-2 in the final game of 2008 for both clubs.  On the bright side, the Sharks forced overtime with just 23.6 seconds left, securing at least a precious OTL point.  Read on for more.

FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

  • James Sheppard intercepts a Sharks pass, and scares the crap out of this writer.  Nabokov keeps him from scoring, but Sheppard's teammates keep our goalie busy for a moment before the puck can be sent out. 
  • Rob Blake has the first two shots on goal for San Jose, first at 2:36 (before the above point of note) and again at 4:48.
  • Minnesota's first line of Andrew Brunette - Mikko Koivu - Pierre-Marc Bouchard is feisty, especially around the 6:30 - 6:45 mark. 
  • Dan Boyle charges through the neutral zone and feeds it to Jonathan Cheechoo at 8:57 - Nicklas Backstrom blocks Cheech's shot (which is done while Jonathan balances on just his right skate), and then lays on the puck.
  • PENALTY = Derek Boogaard draws a cross-checking penalty on Alexei Semenov, at 9:33.  Shots 4-3 before the power play.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL = Owen Nolan at 10:09.  He tips in Brent Burns' shot from the point, which was set up by Mikko Koivu at the right boards.  The 5th shot on goal for Minnesota gets them on the board first.... thanks, former captain.
  • Alexei Semenov slams Owen Nolan down at center ice at 11:30.  Hehehe... Semenov gets revenge...
  • Lots of turnovers on both sides...
  • Cheechoo slides into the wall HARD right after 16 minutes, in Minnesota's end - Martin Skoula not penalized.
  • PENALTY = Brent Burns, roughing (against Patrick Marleau?), 17:29.
  • Sharks Power Play = The Sharks are forced to dump the puck at the blue line as the Minnesota penalty killers have our guys' number.  The Sharks don't get off any shots during the power play.
  • Joe Thornton HAMMERS Marek Zidlicky behind Backstrom's net in the final 30 seconds, and the Sharks get off two shots before the buzzer sounds.
  • Score = 1-0, Minnesota.  Shots on goal = 8-9, Minnesota.  Scoring chances = 3-5, Minnesota.  Faceoffs = 6-9, Minnesota.  Hits = 10-8, San Jose.
  • Dan Boyle leads all players in ice time with 8:43.
  • NOTE = The Minnesota Wild are 6-1 when leading after the first period (thanks to SwisherThresher).

SECOND PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

  •  FIGHT = Jody Shelley and Derek Boogaard go at it at 2:45... Boogaard destroys part of Shelley's helmet, and possibly knocks out one of his teeth.  Shelley gets in a few punches, but the fight is a clear loss for our #45.  They continue their love fest verbally through the panes of glass in the penalty box.
  • Shots 2-1 after 5 minutes, Minnesota.
  • The Wild dominate the flow of action from the Sharks end after the 6 minute mark, and the teams skirmish after the whistle blows at 6:24.
  • The Sharks keep up pressure in the Minnesota zone before the 10 minute mark - our d-men keep the puck in, and the Sharks pass the Wild in shots on goal (15-13).
  • PENALTY = Nicklas Backstrom called for delaying the game by not playing the puck (smothering the puck) at 10:44.  Shots 16-15 before Sharks power play.  Penalty served by Andrew Brunette.
  • Sharks power play = Sharks get 2 shots off in less than 30 seconds.  Stephane Veilleux chases after Boyle and attempts to grab the puck in the Sharks' zone with a minute left in the power play.  The Sharks get off another shot that is gobbled up by Backstrom before...
  • POWER PLAY GOAL = Devin Setoguchi circles behind the net, goes to the left circle and gets off a no-look shot that beats Backstrom to tie the game on the Sharks' 20th shot.  Rob Blake and Joe Thornton earn the assist, at 12:38.  Consider this artistic license on my part, but I'm sure that goal is dedicated after-the-fact to the memory of Devin's grandmother.
  • Minnesota forechecking is resilient.  Pierre-Marc Bouchard deflects Brent Burns' shot, causing the puck to hit Nabokov's left post.  Mercifully, it skirts the goal line but goes out on the rebound, around the 14 minute mark.
  • At the time of the commercial break at 15:50, the Sharks have 24 shots to the Wild's 16... or 16 shots in the period, to the Wild's 7.  Score still tied, however.
  • AYE AYE AYE = The Sharks benefit from an early whistle while the puck is loose in Nabokov's crease.  The puck actually goes in before the whistle, but the no-goal stands.  The XCel Energy Center starts booing en masse, sometime around the 18 minute mark.  We'll be the first to admit it = a terrible call that benefits us tremendously.
  • PENALTY = Joe Pavelski, for holding at 18:48.  Shots on goal 24-19, San Jose before the Wild's power play.
  • Minnesota power play = Great shorthanded pressure by Joe Thornton and Marcel Goc in the final seconds of the period.  Power play to be continued. 
  • Score = 1-1 tie.  Shots on goal = 24-20, San Jose (16-11 for the period).  Faceoff wins = 17-18 total, Minnesota.  Each team 50% on the power play, and by extension the penalty kill.
  • Leader in TOI = Kim Johnsson of the Wild, with 17:32.  Dan Boyle is next with 16:32, followed by Brent Burns with 16:16.
  • Leader in SOG = Mikko Koivu, with 4.  Owen Nolan is second on the Wild with 3.  On the Sharks, Rob Blake, Jonathan Cheechoo, Brad Lukowich, and Devin Setoguchi each have 3.

THIRD PERIOD HIGLIGHTS

  • Minnesota power play continued = Sharks keep the Wild from getting off any more shots.  Power play ends at 0:48.
  • Owen Nolan at 3:35 and Christian Ehrhoff at 3:43 = first shots of the period for their teams.
  • Scariness at 5:21 = Andrew Brunette tries stuffing the puck past Nabokov, but Nabby gloves it to preserve the tie while spread out on the ice. 
  • Shots on goal 28-22, San Jose, going into a commercial break, at 6:48 (that's 4-2 for the period).
  • At 11:29, the Minnesota fans feel Nabokov deserved a delay of game penalty, as their own goaltender had been dealt in the second period.  To be sure, Nabokov didn't hold on as long as Backstrom, and the officiating seems to indicate this as well.
  • Patrick Marleau intercepts the puck in Minnesota's zone at 12:06, and lets a nice shot rip.
  • DELAYED PENALTY = Interference with the goaltender against Joe Thornton, at 12:32.  His stick caught up with Backstrom's unintentionally.  Minnesota goes on their third power play.  Shots 31 to 27, San Jose going into the power play.
  • POWER PLAY GOAL = After a shot hits the post, the Wild's James Sheppard scores off a pass.  Krystofer Kolanos' shot that appears to hit the post actually went past Nabokov, shooting in and out so quickly that play continues, allowing for what appears to be a legitimate goal by James Sheppard.  The referees confer, and award the goal to Kolanos for his earlier attempt.  The earlier no-goal is avenged on the power play (the third such goal tonight).  The goal comes as the Wild tie the Sharks in shots on goal, with 31, at 14:42.  James Sheppard and Brent Burns earn the assists.  NOTE = both of Kolanos' goals this season are against the San Jose Sharks.  We're so honored...
  • Cal Clutterbuck gets a one-on-one attempt from the left circle against Nabokov, but at the last moment Christian Ehrhoff reaches in to block the shot.
  • The Sharks put on the pressure in the Wild's end. 
  • Owen Nolan reaches up to block the puck, not to mention the Sharks from advancing in the zone.
  • Nabokov pulled at 18:46.
  • GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! = The Sharks score with 23.6 seconds left to tie the game!  Devin Setoguchi gets his second of the night, and (more artistic license here) his grandmother smiles down on him from above.  Milan Michalek gets credit for the goal.  Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Thornton get the assists.  NOTE = Is that point #800 for Jumbo Joe?  If so, congratulations on getting it done before 2009!  Extra note on Joe = His 800th career game should be (knock on wood) against Colorado on January 27th, assuming he (knocking again) doesn't miss any games.
  • Plus-one = Boyle, Cheechoo, Michalek, Thornton, Vlasic, and THE GOOCH.
  • Minus-one = Burns, Koivu, Nolan, Skoula, and Veilleux.
  • AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
  • Shots on goal = 33-30, San Jose.  Faceoffs = 24-27, Minnesota.

OVERTIME HIGHLIGHTS

  •  Mikko Koivu gets off the first shot of overtime at 0:58 from the left circle - Nabokov makes a glove save.
  • GOAL = Brent Burns gets the game-winner from the right circle on a feed from Mikko Koivu at the left circle... the Sharks fans are content with their point, because after bad officiating that helped them out, they probably don't deserve it.  Not sure of the time of goal because all the feeds and both the NHL / Yahoo sites decided to not show info past the third period (which is how we prefer it too - d'oh!)  The goal comes just 98 seconds into overtime.
  • Score = 3-2, Minnesota.  Shots = 33-32, San Jose. 
  • Nabokov's save % = 90.6%
  • Backstrom's save % = 93.9%

The Sharks have 61 points, one more than the Boston Bruins, which allows them to keep the title of best team in the NHL going into 2009. 

From all of us here at Fear the Fin, Happy New Year, don't drive if you've been drinking, and GO SHARKS.