3/16 SHARKS 3, columbus 0
No Evgeni Nabokov, no problem. Resting the currently scorching Nabokov was a necessity last night, as he's played a lot recently, and last night would have marked twice in two nights. It was necessary to rest him, but Vesa Toskala almost made it seem like a pleasure because of his solid play in his first game in about a month (he was injured and hadn't started since Feb 14th in Nashville). The skaters, however, didn't get the time off, but were still able to grind out another should-win type game against the Jackets 3-0.
All 3 periods were pretty tightly contested, and, despite being outshot 28-18 in the last 40 minutes of the contest, played strong defensively, employing a nice backcheck, and were quick to clear loose pucks from the slot, even if they were just shot to the boards. Joe Thornton got the game's first goal (and eventual game winner) on a nice wrister that beat the left pad of goalie Fredrik Norrena  (Craig Rivet, Milan Michalek). Ryane Clowe made the game 2-0  on what looked like a puck's imitation of a butterfly, twisting and flipping in the air (ok, so maybe not a butterfly, but a flying something), finding its way past Norrena with just over a minute left in the 2nd (Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Pavelski). Scott Hannan sealed the victory and the two points (given for a win) by taking advantage of the empty net and the ability to ice the puck (Sharks were on the penalty kill) with a shot from behind the Sharks goalline that traveled the near 200 feet to the back of the twine and iron house on the other end of the rink  (unassisted) (whoa, sorry, got a little poetic there). Vesa Toskala made 35 saves in the win, earning his 25th win of the year, and his 4th shutout of 06/07.
While the Tank prepares for some sports of the college basketball regional championship variety, the Sharks embark on their final road trip of the season. The first stop (Sunday) is the city they had to build in the mountains, Denver, CO, and the Colorado Avalanche (5:00 pdt). While the Sharks are fighting for playoff positioning, the Avalanche are still pushing to get into the second season, and have gotten close (6 points behind 8th place Calgary with 1 game in hand) from great play lately (7-0-1 in last 8 games). The Sharks lead this series 2-1, winning the one game played at the massive Pepsi Center, and splitting games in SJ, with the Sharks winning the most recent contest (January 15th) by a 3-1 score. The Av's (what an Av is I still don't really know) played last night in Phoenix and defeated the Coyotes by a 6-3 score, so here's hoping that they're a bit tired for tonight.
Go Sharks (Vesa Tosk-ala)