3/13 SHARKS 7, chicago 1
Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo "PIZZA!". Ah, the familiar sounds of the Tank when bellies are rumbling in victory. It's been a long time since Round Table has had to give out 17,496 free personal pan pizzas (37 days to be exact), but a scoring surge lead by Bill Guerin made it so. Guerin recorded his first goal (and second, and third, for that matter) in a Sharks jersey and added an assist as the Sharks ran rampant on the hapless Blackhawks 7-1 last night. Guerin, playing in his 7th game for the Teal, had nary a point to his name since coming to SJ a couple weeks ago, despite having a few good scoring chances along the way. He recorded goals # 29, 30, and 31 on the evening, with the latter coming on a penalty shot with just 12 seconds remaining in the game (he now has the Sharks lead in goals, Patrick Marleau is second with 30).
Guerin got the game started with a rush up the wing, and a backhander that trickled past goalie Patrick Lalime to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead (Christian Ehrhoff) (Guerin was so happy he "hugged" [read = crashed into] referee Kerry Fraser). Guerin's second came late in the game, and was the game's lone power play goal (powerplay) (Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan). The hat trick came on a penalty shot granted by referee Kerry Fraser on what seemed to be a generous call (that hug makes more sense now). Consensus was that it should have been a 2 minute minor for hooking (but no Shark fan is complaining). Guerin split the wickets on Lalime, giving him his first hat trick as a San Jose Shark. Mark Bell  (Matt Carle, Guerin), Milan Michalek  (Joe Thornton), Joe Thornton  (Hannan, Jonathan Cheechoo) and Mike Grier  (Michalek, Thornton) also scored for the Sharks. Evgeni Nabokov made 18 saves, earning his 18th win of the year, and 4th in his last 5 starts.
Now, I've talked a few times about how silly it seems to me that people would leave a hockey game, or any sporting event, before it's conclusion. The few people who have engagements the next morning or later that night the exception, but the streaming of people looking like they're running towards the exits to escape a fire with minutes left on the clock dumbfound me. Case in point, Bill Guerin records the final tally of his hat trick with 12 seconds remaining, and the building goes nuts. Or at least that's what should have happened. Instead, a few thousand fans decided to leave with minutes left on the clock, and missed out on screaming and yelling and supporting the Sharks deadline acquisition that is thought to be the final piece to the championship puzzle. Maybe the people who decided to leave early, and miss out on the celebration have learned their lessons, but I guess we'll just have to find out Friday who leaves prior to that final horn.
The Sharks take their recent string of strong hockey to the desert for the final time this season to take on the poor Phoenix Coyotes (7:00 pdt). The 'Yotes season didn't quite pan out as they had hoped, as they have spent most of the year towards the bottom of the division and the conference. The Sharks lead the season series 4-2, picking up 2 of 3 games played at the ill named Jobing.com Arena in otherwise glorious Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix). The Sharks have outscored their opponents 18-3 in their last 5, while the 'Yotes have been outscored 15-17. On paper this is a game the Sharks should win, but, if it was that easy, well, then I wouldn't have to travel to see the game played out on ice.
Go Sharks (boo people who leave early)