PHOENIX DROPS 3-2 DECISION TO SAN JOSE
By: Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
It took all of 44-seconds for Jonathan Cheechoo to achieve an astounding milestone.
Cheechoo scored two goals in a 44-second span in the second period to record his single season franchise record 50th and 51st goal of the season as the San Jose Sharks held on for a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at Glendale Arena.
Cheecho also became the third player in the NHL this year to reach the 50-goal plateau.
"Not a lot of guys have reached it, so it's pretty special," said Cheechoo, who has the most goals and game-winning goals, among players that have entered the NHL since the 2002-03 season. "Just have to thank my teammates, they helped out a lot this year and it's partly because of them that I have reached this milestone."
Mike Comrie and Steven Reinprecht scored for Phoenix, which concluded the season series with a 6-1-1 record, marking the fourth time in franchise history that the club has won at least six games against a team in a single regular season. The Winnipeg Jets hold the team record with eight victories in 1992-93.
Cheechoo broke a 1-1 tie on a 5-on-3 power play midway though the second period when he received a quick pass from Joe Thornton and beat David LeNeveu with a swift shot upstairs.
Just 44-seconds later, Thornton connected with Cheechoo again on a slick cross-ice pass to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Reinprecht made it 3-2 with 9:10 left in regulation when he deflected Fredrik Sjostrom's shot to score his 22nd goal of the season and sixth in the last three games against San Jose.
"Reinprecht has been a great addition to our hockey club," said Comrie. "He continues to play very well and he's working extremely hard."
Phoenix went 0-for-5 on the power play, including a crucial man-advantage with two minutes left in regulation. San Jose, meanwhile, went 2-for-7 with the extra attacker.
"Their power play was good when it had to be good," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "They capitalized on their opportunity and we didn't.
LeNeveu turned away 23-shots and kept Phoenix within striking distance with several big stops in the third period.
"We're happy where Lenny is," said Gretzky, who tentatively named LeNeveu to start in Nashville on Saturday. "We know he's still very young and overall he played well."
It took three brilliant scoring chances for the Sharks to finally solve LeNeveu and score the game's first goal when Nils Ekman scored on a broken play midway though the first period.
While killing a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play, LeNeveu robbed Milan Michalek with an incredible pad save and later followed with a sprawling glove save to keep the game scoreless. But just as the power play expired, Ekman - positioned at front the net - received a quick pass from Joe Thornton and beat LeNeveu with a wrist shot.
"We would be pretty lucky if they didn't score on one of them (five-on-three power plays)," said LeNeveu. "We killed off the first one and unfortunately at the end of it, they got a lucky bounce."
Comrie made it 1-1 with 9:45 left in the second period when he pounced on a loose rebound at the front of the net and scored his 29th goal of the season. Geoff Sanderson's shot from the left circle ricochet off Toskala's glove and fell right on Comrie's stick who tied Shane Doan for the team lead in goals.
"We battled hard and got some pucks on the net, but we just didn't get enough opportunities," said Comrie. "They played hard, so you have to give them credit."
Ladislav Nagy - underwent surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon to remove his meniscus. The procedure will sideline Nagy for two-to-three weeks.
Tyson Nash - will seek a second opinion this week to see if he will require surgery on his right knee to relieve discomfort in the joint.
Oleg Kvasha - suffering a MCL sprain in his knee, will likely try skating with the team on Wednesday. If Kvasha is able to complete Tuesday's skate without pain, he could return to the Coyotes line -up as early as Thursday.
Dave Scatchard - is currently listed as day-to-day with bronchitis.
The Coyotes left Phoenix after tonight's game and flew to Colorado where they'll face off against the Avalanche on Tuesday, before returning to Glendale Arena on Thursday night to host the Los Angeles Kings on Fan Appreciation Night.