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Sobel scores twice on power play

2/27/2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Brent Sopel made up for his
early mistakes.

After getting burned in his end on both San Jose goals, Sopel
scored his second power-play goal of the game 2:14 into overtime.
That lifted the Canucks to a 3-2 comeback win over the Sharks on
Thursday night.

"There's not much that can be done, I just have to refocus
myself," said Sopel, who was beaten wide when Marco Sturm gave San
Jose a 2-1 lead 4:42 into the third period. "Whatever is left in
the game I've just got to play hard."

Sopel scored the winner -- his eighth of the season -- after San
Jose was whistled for too many men on the ice 35 seconds into
overtime. Vesa Toskala stopped Markus Naslund's shot from the low
left circle, but the puck bounced straight to Sopel on the other
side, leaving him with an unguarded net.

"Just a yawning cage," said Sopel, who also scored with a
one-timer from the top of the right circle midway through the
second period, and assisted on Mattias Ohlund's tying goal with
3:06 left in regulation.

On the tying goal, Artem Chubarov won a faceoff in the San Jose
end back to Sopel, whose long shot rebounded out to the right
circle. Ohlund pounced on it and wired a perfect slap shot past a
screened Toskala and into the top corner.

"It was a very timely goal to tie it up," Canucks captain
Markus Naslund said after getting an assist in his first game back
since suffering a concussion 10 days earlier.

"I think my timing might be off a little bit and I think that's
natural when you've been down for that period of time," Naslund
said. "But we got the win and I think that's all that matters."

The victory was Vancouver's first over the Sharks in three games
this season and just the third time in 11 meetings over the last
three years. It was also the first time since Jan. 31 the Canucks
won consecutive games, and it moved them within two points of
Northwest Division-leading Colorado.

"It's huge," Sopel said of the win. "We've struggled lately
putting games together. It's a good confidence builder. Nobody can
keep up with us when we're at the top of our game."

Sturm's 20th goal gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead early in the third
period. But San Jose couldn't hold on, losing for just the second
time in six games.

The Sharks were happy to pick up a point to move six points
ahead of Dallas atop the Pacific Division. But they were upset
about giving away a point late in the third period, then losing it
for good on an overtime penalty call.

"You never like to see a game end like that, but I guess
there's not much we can do about it now, bad call or not," said
Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.

Scott Thornton also scored and Toskala made 33 saves for the
Sharks, who lost center Mike Ricci and defenseman Kyle McLaren to
injuries in the first period. Neither player returned.

"It's too bad we didn't come out with two points," said Sharks
coach Ron Wilson. "But we had a real short bench when you miss a
defenseman as good as Kyle and obviously the importance of Mike
Ricci to our lineup."

McLaren was hit in the face with the puck after a hard slap shot
by Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo deflected off the glove of Sharks
forward Scott Parker. The rising puck caught McLaren in front of
his own net. He collapsed immediately to the ice bleeding and left
with trainers holding a towel over what was announced as a head
laceration.

Ricci was taken hard into the sideboards by Canucks winger
Jarkko Ruutu 5:32 into the game, and collapsed immediately to the
ice. After being attended to by a team trainer, Ricci went straight
to the locker room holding his right shoulder.

Wilson didn't have an update on Ricci, but said McLaren's injury
wasn t as bad as it first looked.

"The puck went off his helmet and caused the cut," Wilson
said. "He just got a CAT scan, but I don t think it's anything
major. He was in here laughing. He s got a huge lump and probably a
10-stitch cut, so he's split wide open."

^Notes: Dan Cloutier finished with 19 saves for Vancouver.
Vancouver moved two points ahead of San Jose, but remains fourth in
the Western Conference because the Sharks are leading the Pacific.
... San Jose has outscored its opposition 64-25 in the first period
this season. ... Canucks RW Matt Cooke returned after serving a
two-game suspension for spearing Minnesota's Matt Johnson during a
Feb. 19 game.