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Weekes sharp as Rangers down Sharks

Nov 3, 2006 - 6:11 AM SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- The New York Rangers could have a goaltending controversy on their hands.

Kevin Weekes turned aside 29 shots and Matt Cullen, Martin Straka and Brendan Shanahan scored goals in lifting the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

It was the second consecutive strong outing for Weekes, who made 30 saves in New York's 4-3 victory over Anaheim on Wednesday. By comparison, Henrik Lundqvist - a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as a rookie in 2005-06 - is just 5-5-0 with a 3.57 goals-against average this season.

"These last two games are two of the top teams in the league, and for us to play the way in which we did team-wise in those games, says a lot," Weekes said. "It's certainly more enjoyable to play when it's like that."

"I think (Weekes has) his head around the challenge of playing back-to-back," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "That's sort of what we hedged our bets on tonight, and it says a lot about him when (we) think about how much he's played to this point in time, and what (he has been) able to do in these last 48 hours. Pretty impressive."

With his team trailing by two goals in the third period, Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren trimmed the deficit to 2-1 at 17:36 when he picked up a loose puck along the boards and snapped a shot from just outside the left faceoff circle past Weekes.

"I don't score too many goals, and the puck was on the boards and we were down 2-0," said McLaren, who has 38 goals in 604 games. "I have to go in there and do something, and I just happened to put the shot on net and got lucky."

The Sharks pulled their goaltender shortly thereafter and vigorously swarmed around the Rangers' net before Shanahan sealed the triumph with an empty-net tally with four seconds left.

The tally goal was the 610th of Shanahan's career, tying him with Hall of Famer Bobby Hull for 12th place on the all-time list.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead with just one second remaining in the first period when Cullen skated in on a breakaway and snapped the puck over San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov's blocker.

"We made an absolutely brain-dead mistake at the end of the first period," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "We have a great period and a mental blunder like that, and that was the critical point of the game.

"We dominated the first period and long stretches of the game but we have people not moving their feet and not getting themselves open, and it is costing us."

Cullen set up Petr Prucha's game-tying tally in the victory over the Ducks.

The Rangers upped the lead to 2-0 at 4:08 of the second period when Straka took a pass from Michael Nylander, but had his shot blocked by Nabokov. The rebound squirted to the side of the net and Straka backhanded the puck from behind the goal line off Nabokov into the net.

Nabokov finished with 16 saves for the Sharks, who went scoreless in five power-play opportunities after entering as the league's top-ranked unit at 27.5 percent. San Jose have a five-game streak with a power-play goal snapped.

"We got a lot of shots but not a lot of quality shots," said San Jose center Joe Thornton, who entered with five points in his last three games. "We did not put enough traffic in front of the net. Usually, our power play is good for one or two goals, but it wasn't tonight."

The Rangers, concluded their four-game west-coast trip with a 3-1-0 mark, failed to score three on chances with the man advantage.

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