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Cheechoo scores twice in third period to lead the Sharks past St. Louis 4-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Jonathan Cheechoo, San Jose's leading goal-scorer last year, had trouble finding the net for most of the first half of this season.

He thinks his drought might be over. Cheechoo scored twice in the third period and the Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 Thursday night to move into a tie atop the Pacific Division heading into the all-star break.

"It was nice that the puck took a couple of good bounces," said Cheechoo, who has nine goals on the year. "The first was practically an empty net, and you better score those."

Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier also scored for the Sharks, who won for the fifth time in seven home games to move to .500 in their own building. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 17 shots for his second straight win after a three-game losing streak.

"It's definitely nice to get these two and bounce back from last week," Sharks centre Patrick Marleau said.

Brad Boyes scored his team-leading 29th goal for the Blues, who are 0-5-2 in their past seven games. Manny Legace stopped 22 shots in his third game in five days, including the past two.

"They took over in the second and third periods," Legace said. "It looked like we got a little tired. We played a tough game last night in Vancouver. When you show a weakness they're going to bury you."

Cheechoo recorded his first multi-goal game since last April 1. He had three such games before last year's break, and 16 total goals.

"He's been working hard and that's why he's back on that line," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "He's worked hard in games and he got rewarded. He scored a couple of goals by just being in front of the net and that's a good sign."

Joe Thornton had three assists to move into a first-place tie in the NHL with 45. Thornton has two goals and 13 assists in his last nine games.

"Our special teams were on and we did a good job with the puck," Thornton said. "Cheech has been looking good lately and getting stronger. It's only a matter of time before a guy like that breaks out of it."

The victory helped the Sharks tighten up the division race. San Jose and Dallas are tied with 61 points, one ahead of Anaheim.

Michalek gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 6:57 of the second period. He took a pass from Thornton, fanned on a shot and recovered to backhand the puck over Legace's stick. Matt Carle picked up a Blues turnover and dumped it down the ice to Thornton.

Michalek's no-look pass across the crease led to Cheechoo's first score, a power-play goal with 16:41 remaining to play.

Bernier scored his goal five minutes later from the top of the crease after taking a short pass from Patrick Marleau.

Boyes made it 3-1 off a faceoff but Cheechoo's second power-play goal put the game out of reach.

"You know you're playing well when you limit the other team to three shots in the first period," Blues' centre Keith Tkachuk said. "They started taking over in the second period and we got into penalty trouble."

Notes: C Yan Stastny, who had his Blues debut pushed back after his flight was delayed on Wednesday, was a healthy scratch. ... Legace played on consecutive days for just the second time this season. ... The Sharks first shot on goal was with 9:07 remaining in the first period. ... Thornton moved into sole possession of sixth place on the Sharks career points list with 265 in his 189th game in a San Jose jersey. ... Cheechoo recorded his 30th career multigoal game. ... The Blues' Paul Kariya had an assist and has 59 points in 53 games against the Sharks.


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