Blake’s key goal lifts San Jose Sharks by Ducks 3-1

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE
– Rob Blake’s slashing drive to the net resulted in a
redirection goal 16:34 into the second period to spark a 3-1
victory for the San Jose Sharks over the Anaheim Ducks at sold-out
HP Pavilion.
SAN JOSE – Rob Blake’s slashing drive to the net resulted in a redirection goal 16:34 into the second period to spark a 3-1 victory for the San Jose Sharks over the Anaheim Ducks at sold-out HP Pavilion.

The Sharks have won four in a row and six of their past seven to hold onto the top spot in the NHL with 76 points. Anaheim lost for only the second time in nine games.

The Sharks have four games left on the homestand before they finish the pre-Olympics portion of the schedule with six road games. Buffalo comes to town Saturday, Chicago and Minnesota next week and Detroit on Tuesday Feb. 2.

Blake’s goal lifted him into a tie with Doug Wilson, the Sharks’ Executive VP/General Manager, in 10th place all-time among defensemen with 237 goals. Ninth is held by Brian Leetch with 247.

Holding a 1-0 lead, San Jose struck again as scoring pace-setters Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau earned assists on Blake’s tally.

Dany Heatley kept the San Jose rush up-ice going when he pulled the puck between his legs to a streaking Marleau. Thornton collected Marleau’s pass at the top of the right circle. When Blake sped through the defense, slicing behind defenseman James Wisniewski, Thornton’s timely lofted shot tapped off Blake’s extended stick and inside the left post at 16:34.

“I didn’s see it ’til it hit my stick,” Blake said of Thornton’s pass.

San Jose needed the two-goal cushion because Duck rookie Matt Beleskey scored his fifth goal of the season from 15 feet out after taking a drop-pass from Kyle Chipchura 1:15 into the third period.

The Sharks had to withstand two penalty kills in the third period, including Thornton’s tripping call at 16:50 that allowed the Ducks to skate 6-on-4 for the final 30 seconds by pulling goalie Jonas Hiller. Blake made two key clears before the Sharks could breathe easily on Marleau’s empty-netter off a Thornton pass with 5.5 seconds to play. Marleau tops the NHL with 35 goals, only three short of his career-high last season.

San Jose opened the scoring 2:47 into the second with a power-play goal. Only nine seconds remained on Troy Bodie’s four-minute high-sticking call when the Sharks set up for an offensive-zone face-off. Marleau kicked the puck back to defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and the 22-year-old stroked his third goal of the season from the right point into the top right corner of the net. Vlasic had not scored since the Nov. 1 game at Carolina, a 5-1 victory.

Evgeni Nabokov collected 26 saves while improving to 29-7-8 for the year. The Sharks have killed off their past 29 penalties. San Jose is 5-0 on the year over the Ducks.

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