San Jose shook off three previous winless games against the Wild
and beat Minnesota 5-1 Saturday night. The Sharks are still in
danger of missing the postseason but they kept their late drive
In the midst of a five-game road trip, San Jose began the night
in 10th place in the Western Conference. The top eight teams make
Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals, including his team-record
45th of the season for the Sharks.
Joe Thornton had three assists and tied the Sharks'
single-season record with 53 in only 44 games with San Jose, 7-1-2
in their last 10 contests.
"This was a huge win for us," defenseman Tom Preissing said.
"Earlier in the year we hadn't played these guys very well. We are
treating every game like it's a playoff game right now and each
point is important."
Brian Rolston scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which lost for
the fourth time in five games and fell further out of the playoff
chase. Minnesota entered the night nine points out of eighth place.
"We're just a fragile team right now," Wild forward Wes Walz
said. "It seems like when we have a little bit of adversity, when
something goes wrong, you can feel it on the bench, it kind of
sinks. Unless we get a goal or something really positive happens,
it's tough. I think falling out of the playoff race takes the wind
out of your sails for sure."
The Sharks, shut out by Detroit on Thursday, scored 3:39 in when
Cheechoo one-timed a shot past the right shin guard of Manny
Fernandez. Thornton tied the assist record on that goal.
Rolston got the Wild even in the second period, taking a nifty
pass from Randy Robitallie and scoring on the breakaway.
Milan Michalek put the Sharks back on top about 6 minutes later
when he tipped a centering pass from Patrick Marleau over the right
shoulder of Fernandez.
"I didn't have much time or space to do anything else," said
Michalek, who has 15 goals this season. "It's not the type of shot
that I practice. I guess I got kind of lucky."
Marleau made it 3-1 in the third when he took a pass from
Thornton and beat Fernandez. The assist gave Thornton his
career-high 102nd point. Thornton added his third assist of the
night on Cheechoo's record-setting goal later in the third.
"We didn't play as well as we would have liked to in Detroit,"
Thornton said. "We needed to start another little streak here.
Getting two points here is big, especially since we haven't played
well against these guys this season."
San Jose coach Ron Wilson credited the play of Vesa Toskala as
well as Thornton and Cheechoo.
"Our goalie kept us in the game early," he said of Toskala.
"We started out a little slow in the first period, but once we got
our legs, we were OK. It's a wake-up call when your goalie has to
constantly bail you out."
Toskala, who has helped the Sharks earn at least one point in 18
of his last 19 starts, stopped 24 shots. The biggest save came at
the beginning of the third when he turned away Wild star Marian
Gaborik on a breakaway that would have tied the game.
Fernandez, who made his season-high ninth straight start made 18
Only eight Minnesota players have scored since the Olympic
"If I would be 20, maybe I would put the skates on and try to
get one," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It's tough,
especially when you see that they're trying hard. Our offense
wasn't that bad. I think most of the mistakes were made by our
defensemen. Our defensemen had a tough, tough game.
"We got beat by a better team, more disciplined."
Defenseman Matt Carle made his NHL debut for the Sharks,
and scored with 17 seconds to play. Carle, a first-round pick in
2003, signed with the Sharks on Sunday after completing his junior
season at the University of Denver where he led the NCAA in assists
(42) and defenseman in points (53). ... LW Scott Thornton returned
for San Jose after missing five games with a pulled rib cage
muscle. ... Fernandez tied the single-season franchise record for
games played by a goaltender (50). ... Rolston became the second
Wild player to score 30 goals in a season, joining teammate Marian
Gaborik, who has done it three times.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Bill McCreary, Dean Morton Linesmen: Brian Mach, Thor Nelson
Attendance: 18,568 (102.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Jonathan Cheechoo (44)
Assists: Nils Ekman, Joe Thornton
Brian Rolston (30)
Assists: Randy Robitaille, Nick Schultz
Milan Michalek (15)
(Power Play) Assists: Patrick Marleau, Tom Preissing
Patrick Marleau (32)
(Power Play) Assists: Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo
Jonathan Cheechoo (45)
Assists: Joe Thornton, Nils Ekman