Sharks 4, Ducks 1

October 9, 2008 10:29:28 PM PDT
Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals, Evgeni Nabokov took a shutout into the final minutes and Todd McLellan won his NHL head coaching debut in the San Jose Sharks' 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.

Christian Ehrhoff and Devin Setoguchi had goals, and Rob Blake added two assists while leading a strong defensive effort in his debut with the Sharks. McLellan's revamping of the defending Pacific Division champions got off to a strong start, with San Jose thoroughly outplaying its longtime rival for lengthy stretches at the sold-out Shark Tank.

Rob Niedermayer scored with 5:25 left in the final period for Anaheim, ending the shutout bid for Nabokov, who made 28 saves. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 37 saves for the Ducks, who are hoping for one more Stanley Cup run for much of the core from the 2007 NHL champions.

But the Ducks were far too sloppy for most of the final two periods, repeatedly putting the Sharks on power plays led by Blake and Dan Boyle, San Jose's other big offseason acquisition. Boyle had an early assist and moved the puck with flair for the Sharks, who hope he can match the skills of Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer by next spring.

San Jose also got a promising start for Cheechoo, who slammed home a rebound of Boyle's shot early in the second period before adding a power play goal 4:12 later. Cheechoo won the Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-scorer with 56 in 2006, but had just 23 goals last season while struggling with injuries.

McLellan was the Detroit Red Wings' power play guru as an assistant coach during their Stanley Cup-winning run last year, and his skills were evident in the Sharks' lively movement and passing. The growth was particularly obvious in the second period, when San Jose outshot Anaheim 21-3, aided by a series of power plays.

After a scoreless first period, Cheechoo scored his first goal in a sequence started by Joe Pavelski, who deflected a clearing pass that was gathered up by Milan Michalek and fed to Boyle, the Sharks' new cornerstone defenseman acquired in a July 4 trade with Tampa Bay. Michalek finished with two assists.

Moments later, Cheechoo slammed home a pass from Joe Thornton moments after Teemu Selanne emerged from the penalty box to finish a two-man advantage caused by Scott Niedermayer's high-stick to Pavelski's face.

Ehrhoff slammed home his goal on a slap shot from the blue line early in the third period. After Rob Niedermayer ruined Nabokov's shutout bid during a rare careless moment from San Jose's defense, Setoguchi extended the final margin with a goal from the slot. Notes:@ Hours before the opener, San Jose released veteran F Jeff Friesen from his tryout contract. Friesen, who spent his first 6 1/2 seasons with the Sharks before getting traded to Anaheim for Selanne, was attempting to return to the club after spending last season out of the NHL. ... The Sharks scratched C Marcel Goc, who has a sore back. ... Cheechoo's last two-goal game was Feb. 9 against Nashville.


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