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Fists fly in Sharks-Preds matchup but Sharks win in OT

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Paul Kariya's second brilliant goal for
Nashville forced overtime, and Christian Ehrhoff's power-play score
won it for San Jose. Tomas Vokoun was outstanding in the Predators'
net, and Joe Thornton put on another passing clinic for the Sharks.

Yet all that beauty wasn't nearly as intriguing as the ugliest,
most thrilling moment in a fight-filled game: San Jose enforcer
Scott Parker's attempt to scale the glass to fight Brendan Witt in
the Sharks' 3-2 victory over the Predators on Saturday.

The beauty and brutality of the NHL game both were on display
during a rare matinee at the Shark Tank. While Kariya, Thornton and
Jonathan Cheechoo were their usual dynamic selves, Parker and Witt
sent everybody home buzzing when they attempted to climb over the
barrier dividing the benches during the second period.

Neither Parker nor Witt, making his Nashville debut after a
deadline trade from Washington, managed to land any big punches.
Both were ejected after teammates and coaches quickly pulled them
down from a potentially scary conflict.

"A player like (Parker) shouldn't be in the NHL anyway," said
Vokoun, who made 39 saves. "The penalty cost us more than them. We
got an impact player thrown out. They lost a marginal player."

But while the Predators decried Parker as a goon, the Sharks
praised him for providing an emotional boost.

"It was kind of old-time hockey," coach Ron Wilson said. "I'm
not happy that we had to go to overtime to win, but we certainly
deserved both points with the way we played physically."

Mark Smith scored a power-play goal with 7:47 left in the third
period, and Cheechoo also scored for the Sharks, who have won five
straight home games -- including the first two on a key six-game
homestand.

But this one had a dark side: The teams combined for 116 minutes
in penalties. Nashville's Scott Nichol and Witt and San Jose's
Milan Michalek and Parker got game misconducts after a series of
fights, including Nichol's one-sided pounding of Michalek, a
21-year-old Czech rookie who's "never had a fight in his life,"
according to Wilson.

That's what led to Parker's attempts to fight Witt in the second
period -- and Witt's refusal further angered Parker.

"Parker came over the glass, and your first reaction is one of
disbelief," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Witt turns around,
and his first reaction is to swing back. I don't like that
trade-off. ... Parker is a marginal player for San Jose, and Witt
is really starting to do some good things for us."

Kariya scored his first goal on the ensuing power play after
Parker left with 24 minutes in penalties. Cheechoo tied it later in
the second period with his 37th goal of the season on Thornton's
NHL-best 66th assist.

Kariya forced overtime by scoring his second goal of the game on
a crafty backhand with 10.9 seconds left in regulation. But after
David Legwand got a tripping penalty in overtime, Ehrhoff scored on
a shot from outside the faceoff circle 2:56 into overtime -- the
only stoppable shot Vokoun missed all day.

"The team played great, and we had so many good chances,"
Thornton said. "It was a really good example of where this team
can be."

Vesa Toskala made 17 saves for the Sharks, who were without
starter Evgeni Nabokov again because of an abdominal bruise.

Michalek and rookie Steve Bernier got misconducts late in the
first period for simultaneous fights with Witt and Nichol. Bernier
also got an instigator penalty and stayed in the game -- but the
Sharks were incensed by the Predators' willingness to fight
Michalek.

Between periods, the officials refused to tell a pool reporter
why Michalek received a game misconduct when he didn't even remove
his gloves.

"It was an interesting debut," Witt said. "It would have been
nice to stay with the guys."

Game notes
The fights were the first for Bernier and Michalek in their
NHL careers. ... Parker was playing just his second game since
missing 26 with a concussion. The Sharks' enforcer has played just
five games all season. ... Vokoun checked Cheechoo to the ice when
the San Jose forward got a partial breakaway midway through the
third period.