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Sharks' two quick power-play goals drown Avalanche

DENVER (AP) -- The alarm went off just in time for the slumbering
San Jose Sharks.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau scored power-play goals 17
seconds apart in the third period and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 40
shots during the Sharks' 4-3 win over the struggling Colorado
Avalanche on Wednesday night.

"We sleepwalked through the second period," Sharks coach Ron
Wilson said. "Fortunately for us, we woke up in time to score two
power plays at the end."

Thornton tied the game with his fifth goal of the season and
then assisted on Marleau's winner. Not bad considering Thornton has
strep throat.

"The strep slowed me down," he said. "Not bad enough to keep
me out of the game. I wasn't de-energized."

The teams combined for five goals in an 8:17 span of the third
period before the Avalanche dropped their fourth straight.

"If we play like we did tonight, we will find a way to win
games," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "The recipe for
success is playing like that."

Joe Sakic scored his eighth goal of the season to put Colorado
up 3-2 with 8:32 remaining, but the Avalanche were called for two
penalties to give San Jose a 5-on-3 power play.

"That was our opportunity, we grasped it and took advantage of
it," said Marleau, who scored his 12th goal of the season.

But the win may have come at a cost. Jonathan Cheechoo was
helped off the ice with a left leg injury after Colorado defenseman
Karlis Skrastins fell on top of him in the goal crease. Cheechoo
didn't return to the game, and Wilson wouldn't give an indication
how long he'd be out.

Antti Laaksonen wished his first goal of the season would've
been the winner. Laaksonen scored early in the third period to give
Colorado a 2-1 lead, but that didn't last long.

Steve Bernier tied it with a backhander minutes later to make up
for an earlier mistake. He tried to play the puck off the boards
and back to himself to get around Mark Rycroft, but Rycroft stole
the pass and fed Laaksonen for the goal.

"We didn't win the game and that is what we are here for,"
Laaksonen said. "I think we deserved to win, we worked pretty hard
for it, but it didn't go our way."

Nabokov returned to net after tweaking his neck against Phoenix
last Saturday. However, this type of game wasn't exactly
therapeutic for a stiff neck. The Avs, who average 34.5 shots a
game, were bouncing shots off Nabokov all evening.

"Shots were coming from everywhere," he said. "I didn't know
where they were coming from. I made the saves I had to make."

Jose Theodore finished with 22 saves. He also had his first
assist of the season.

Yet, all he could think about was the costly 5-on-3.

"I always say that if you kill a 5-on-3, a lot of times you are
going to win the game," Theodore said. "That's always the turning
point."

An errant pass by Sakic early in the second period led to a
short-handed goal by Curtis Brown. Sakic attempted a pass along the
blue line, but it was intercepted by Brown, who skated along the
left boards and beat Theodore with a shot for his third goal of the
season.

"We got the short-handed goal by Brown to keep us alive,"
Marleau said.

Sakic made up for the mistake in the third period with his goal
that gave him 1,507 career points, the fifth-highest total for one
franchise in NHL history. He was tied with Ray Bourque -- a former
teammate -- who scored 1,506 points with Boston.

"We are turning it over too much," Sakic said. "We are trying
to make that extra pass rather than just getting on them."

The Sharks were just thankful they came back in time.

"We won the [third] period, but it wasn't decisive, that's for
sure," Marleau said. "They were taking it to us."

Game notes
Colorado's Paul Stastny and San Jose's Matt Carle were
teammates at the University of Denver and guided the Pioneers to
the 2005 NCAA championship. ... Sharks C Mark Smith was placed on
the injured list Wednesday. D Rob Davison was activated from the
list and took Smith's place on the roster. ... Colorado's Brett
McLean scored his fourth goal of the season 3:48 into the game.