for this game

Michalek scores twice as Sharks push Predators to brink

Apr 19, 2007 - 6:47 AM
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- The play of Milan Michalek has the San Jose Sharks smelling blood.

Michalek scored a pair of goals and rookie Joe Pavelski also tallied as the Sharks took a commanding three-games-to-one lead over the Nashville Predators with a 3-2 victory in Game Four of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo each had a pair of assists for San Jose, which can eliminate Nashville in the quarterfinals for the second straight postseason with a victory at Nashville Arena on Friday.

"There's a lot of similarities, but you still have to win four," Sharks captain Patrick Marleau said. "We are looking at a really tough team going back to Nashville. ... It's probably going to be the toughest game of the series for us."

"We're in a hole, and we know that, but you have to win four," Nashville's Peter Forsberg said. "It's a challenge, but you have to win four, and the fourth one is always the toughest one to win. ... Stranger things have happened, so we have to focus on the next one and not get down."

Michalek, who tallied in each of the Sharks' previous two wins in the series, opened the scoring 3 1/2 minutes into this one. The 22-year-old Czech capped his first career multi-goal performance in the playoffs with just over seven minutes remaining in the second period, giving San Jose a 3-1 bulge.

"I've been in the playoffs (before) and I'm playing with a lot more confidence," Michalek said. "And I played a whole year with Joe, so it's great. When you're on the ice with Joe, you just want to get the puck deep and get the puck to him and try to get in front of the net. Always keep your stick on the ice because he's unbelievable."

"When you gain experience from last year, you do well," Marleau said of Michalek. "He's playing with a lot of confidence right now and doing really well."

Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 23 shots for the Sharks, who have won six of their last seven home playoff games.

"The guys did a helluva job (in front of me)," said Nabokov, who made 14 of his saves in the first period. "They sacrificed themselves. ... I'm just trying to play the game and take it a game at a time and win every game I'm out there. That's all I'm trying to do, give the guys a chance to win."

"Have to hand it to their goaltending," Predators center Jason Arnott said. "He played really well. We fired pucks from everywhere at him and he kept them in the game."

Arnott and Scott Hartnell scored for Nashville, which fell to 0-7 all-time on the road in the postseason.

"We are not out," Vokoun said. "It will be tough, but it has happened before, so we can't say that is it. We are still alive and we control our fate. We just go one game at a time and see where we go."

"It's an uphill battle and we're fighting for our lives now," Arnott added.

With a chance to grab a firm hold on the series, San Jose got off to a good start as Michalek gave it a 1-0 lead at 3:29 of the first period. In possession of the puck behind the net, Thornton made a backhand pass to Michalek, who beat Vokoun from the right side of the net for his third goal of the playoffs.

"Joe made a nice pass and I went at it from the side," Michalek said. "I knew Vokoun was going to come out and I tried to fake a shot. The puck stayed on my stick, so I threw it back to Joe. He couldn't get it in, so he made a nice pass back to me, and it was easy for me, there was an open net."

Playing in just his second NHL postseason contest, Pavelski unleashed a slap shot from the top of the slot that got past Vokoun 66 seconds into the middle session for a 2-0 bulge.

"It feels pretty good to score that first (goal)," Pavelski said. "When it went in, it was pretty cool. ... I had to hold the puck for just a second, get over to the side where Vokoun could see it, and then I could just let it go. Sometimes you get a stick there, sometimes not. I was able to catch a gap in there."

"He has a knack for scoring big goals," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "He loves to play, loves to be around the rink. He doesn't quite look like the perfect hockey player, but he finds ways to get the puck and he's got a sneaky, hard shot, which they found out tonight."

Arnott halved the deficit just 2:25 later with his second tally in 19 postseason games. On a play similar to Michalek's goal, J.P. Dumont dished from behind the net to Arnott, who knocked the puck past Nabokov at 2:31.

Michalek restored the two-goal advantage with 7:07 left in the period, carrying down the right wing and behind the net before throwing a backhander in front. Before reaching Cheechoo, the puck caromed off defenseman Kimmo Timonen's skate and into the net, giving the Sharks a 3-1 cushion.

"I didn't know it was my goal," Michalek said. "I thought it was Cheech's. I heard (it was mine) between periods."

"Look at how many times the puck bounces in their crease and it does not go in, and they throw it from behind the net and it hits a skate and goes in," Vokoun said. "Stuff like that you can hardly control, but that is part of hockey. The bounces just don't go your way, and they did not go our way tonight."

The tally proved to be the game-winner as Hartnell had a loose puck bounce off his lower body and past Nabokov during a power play with 2:52 left in the third.

Despite entering the period down by two goals, Nashville was outshot, 10-3, in the final 20 minutes.

"We have a tendency to kind of collapse a little bit and sit back in the third periods with a lead," San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "Tonight, we didn't want to do that."

"We played great. We didn't sit back, we were able to skate pretty well," Nabokov added. "I thought it was a great third period."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 1 1 2
    SAN JOSE 1 2 0 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: SAN - MILAN MICHALEK 3 (JOE THORNTON, JONATHAN CHEECHOO)
    3:29
    2ND PRD: SAN - JOE PAVELSKI 1 (KYLE MCLAREN, SCOTT HANNAN) 1:06
    NAS - JASON ARNOTT 1 (JEAN-PIERRE DUMONT, JORDIN TOOTOO)
    2:32
    SAN - MILAN MICH

    Apr 19 12:34 AM
  • 17
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 17 roots

    Predators vs. SharksApr 19 12:30 AM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NASHVILLE 2
    SAN JOSE 3
    3RD PRD: NAS - (PP) SCOTT HARTNELL 1 (DAVID LEGWAND, PAUL KARIYA)
    17:08 (WITH EXTRA ATTACKER)

    Predators vs. SharksApr 19 12:29 AM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 1 1
    SAN JOSE 1 2 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: SAN - MILAN MICHALEK 3 (JOE THORNTON, JONATHAN CHEECHOO)
    3:29
    2ND PRD: SAN - JOE PAVELSKI 1 (KYLE MCLAREN, SCOTT HANNAN) 1:06
    NAS - JASON ARNOTT 1 (JEAN-PIERRE DUMONT, JORDIN TOOTOO)
    2:32
    SAN

    Apr 18 11:41 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NASHVILLE 1
    SAN JOSE 3
    2ND PRD: SAN - JONATHAN CHEECHOO 1 (MILAN MICHALEK, JOE THORNTON)
    12:53

    Predators vs. SharksApr 18 11:28 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NASHVILLE 1
    SAN JOSE 2
    2ND PRD: NAS - JASON ARNOTT 1 (SCOTT HARTNELL, JORDIN TOOTOO) 2:32

    Predators vs. SharksApr 18 11:07 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NASHVILLE 0
    SAN JOSE 2
    2ND PRD: SAN - JOE PAVELSKI 1 (KYLE MCLAREN, SCOTT HANNAN) 1:06

    Predators vs. SharksApr 18 11:06 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 0
    SAN JOSE 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: SAN - MILAN MICHALEK 3 (JOE THORNTON, JONATHAN CHEECHOO)
    3:29
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NAS 14 14
    SAN 5 5
    GOALIES: NAS -

    Apr 18 10:45 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NASHVILLE 0
    SAN JOSE 1
    1ST PRD: SAN - MILAN MICHALEK 3 (JOE THORNTON, JONATHAN CHEECHOO) 3:29

    Predators vs. SharksApr 18 10:19 PM