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Toskala stops Selanne twice

1/18/2004

DENVER (AP) -- Nils Ekman scored the winning goal, then insisted
on deflecting praise toward goaltender Vesa Toskala.

Ekman scored early in the third period, helping Toskala and the
San Jose Sharks defeat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Saturday night.

"I don't think you should be standing here talking to me,"
Ekman told reporters. "You should be talking to Vesa. It's his
win. Bottom line, Vesa won the game for us."

Toskala had 32 saves, and Colorado's David Aebischer had 22.

Ekman's 12th goal of the season came just 15 seconds into the
period after a turnover in the Colorado end. Alexander Korolyuk
passed from the left corner to Ekman in the slot, and he beat
Aebischer.

"On that first shift, I think we caught them a little
off-guard," Ekman said. "We got the puck in deep and Al (Alyn
McCauley) won a huge battle. He just chipped it to Corky
(Korolyuk), who saw me in the high slot right away. It was such a
hard pass that I was just trying to get my stick on it."

After Ekman's goal, Toskala stopped Teemu Selanne on a breakaway
and then made a glove save against Selanne on a two-on-one rush.

"Maybe that last two-on-one was the biggest," Toskala said,
"especially at the end of the game when we were leading by one
goal. You never know where Selanne is going. He is always holding
and holding and waiting. I just tried to stay on my feet as long as
I could to take a little room away from him."

Sharks coach Ron Wilson said Toskala "made two great saves on
Teemu. This was one of those moments where you are real proud of
your team because of how hard they competed. These were trying
circumstances with some injuries, and a lot of our speed was
missing.

"We had to turn it into an ugly game and play the clock."

San Jose is 10-2-1-1 in its last 14 games. Colorado had its
four-game winning streak snapped but still is 8-1-0-1 in its last
10 games.

"That kid made big saves," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said.

Colorado's John-Michael Liles and San Jose's Scott Thornton each
scored in the first period.

In a matchup of division leaders, Colorado was without forward
Peter Forsberg, its most productive player the last two weeks.
Forsberg was a late scratch because of a groin injury. He missed 22
games earlier this season with an abdominal injury.

"Peter tweaked his groin in the last game (Thursday night
against Dallas)," Granato said. "He didn't skate Friday. During
warmups today he felt a little uncomfortable. There's no sense in
taking a chance. I don't know how long he'll be out."

Colorado's Alex Tanguay, the NHL assists leader, missed most of
the second period and part of the third after being hit by a stick
in the leg.

"He got a bunch of splinters they had to take out," Granato
said. "It was kind of a fluky thing. He's fine."

San Jose was without its two leading scorers, Patrick Marleau
and Marco Sturm, who were sidelined with ankle and chest injuries,
respectively.

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov was available but did not start
after arriving in Denver just three hours before the game. Nabokov
and his wife had their first child, a girl, on Friday night.

In the first period, Liles scored a power-play goal on a long
shot through traffic at 8:33.

At 15:06, Mike Ricci's shot ricocheted off the back boards to
Thornton, who scored from left of the net.

Colorado outshot San Jose 13-8 in a scoreless second period.

Game notes
Forsberg had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in the
previous eight games. ... San Jose began the night with a six-point
lead over Phoenix and Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. Colorado
was tied with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division. ... Colorado
lost its first game in regulation since Dec. 29, against Vancouver.
... San Jose's victory broke an eight-game winless streak against
the Avalanche (0-7-1-0).