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Cheechoo's power-play goal gives Sharks 3-2 victory over Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks completed what could best be described as a road-and-road series. Missing a chance to sweep the NHL's top team in front of a capacity crowd only made it tougher on the Ducks to secure their fourth consecutive playoff berth.

Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo scored the tying and go-ahead goals during power plays and the Sharks set a franchise record with their 52nd victory, beating their Pacific Division rivals 3-2 on Sunday night.

"These are fun games to be a part of. I mean, it's Anaheim. We get up to play those guys and I'm sure they get up to play us," Cheechoo said. "But they're all big right now. We want to establish our game, try to build some momentum, play the way we're supposed to play them, system-wise, and play to our strengths."

Jeremy Roenick had his first goal in four months, and backup Brian Boucher stopped 19 shots for the Sharks, who lead Boston 115-112 in the race for the NHL's best record.

San Jose has never won the Presidents' Trophy, despite recording no fewer than 104 points in four of the last five seasons. The Sharks' final three games are against the bottom three teams in the Western Conference - Colorado, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

"We'll see. Hopefully, we hang on to that top spot," Roenick said.

Petteri Nokelainen scored a short-handed for Anaheim, and Corey Perry connected on the power play. Jonas Hiller made 23 saves, after beating the Sharks 5-2 Saturday night at San Jose and handing them only their fourth regulation loss at home all season.

The Ducks, who had won nine of their previous 10 games, still need four points in their final two against Dallas (2-2-1) and Phoenix (4-1-0) to clinch their fourth straight playoff berth outright.

They have four days off before facing the Stars at home. If it comes down to the final game at Phoenix, the Ducks can be comforted by the fact that Hiller has started four of the five meetings with the Coyotes and is 4-0 with a shutout.

"We've been playing playoff hockey for the last couple of weeks, so it's nice that we get a little bit of a break before our last two games - especially this late in the season," Perry said. "It's been a long haul, but we're in a great position to be where we are. But we have to prove that we belong there."

If the Ducks finish eighth in the West, they'll likely meet the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. The only time two California teams have met in the post-season was 1969, when the Kings beat the Oakland Seals 4-3 in the opening round.

San Jose received a 5-on-3 power play for a full minute in the third period after Chris Pronger earned a delay-of-game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass halfway through Drew Miller's holding penalty.

The Sharks didn't get a shot on net during the two-man advantage, but Cheechoo got his fourth game-winner when Christian Ehrhoff's long slap shot caromed in off Cheechoo with 6:41 left and 23 seconds remaining on Pronger's penalty.

Sharks left wing Jody Shelley was goaded into a slashing penalty by Anaheim enforcer George Parros at 11:13 of the second period a few seconds after Parros checked Shelley into his own bench.

The Ducks capitalized on the ensuing power play just 18 seconds later, as defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic had trouble clearing a bouncing puck deep in the Sharks' zone and Perry whipped his team-high 31st goal past Boucher for a 2-1 lead.

Pavelski tied it at 15:16 of the second with his 24th goal, extending the San Jose's franchise record to 11 straight games with a power-play goal. Rob Niedermayer was serving a charging penalty at the time.

The Sharks, who came in with the best power-play percentage on the road and third-best in the league overall, surrendered their 11th short-handed goal of the season at 5:38 of the first period while Andrew Ebbett was serving a holding-the-stick penalty.

Vlasic blocked a clearing pass by Scott Niedermayer while standing on the Anaheim blue line, but Nokelainen got control of the puck and took off on a breakaway. He went for the five hole, and Boucher slid backward into the net with Nokelainen's first career short-handed goal.

Roenick tied it at 2:45 of the second, beating Hiller between the pads with a one-timer after Joe Thornton set him up from the left corner.

"When you're playing with Joe, he finds you wherever you are. The guy's amazing," Roenick said. "We talked after the first period about being in that spot. I wasn't in that spot in the first period a couple of times, so he couldn't get the puck to me. So we adjusted in the second and I went to the net."

Roenick, who has played in only 12 of San Jose's last 51 games because of shoulder problems, scored his first goal since Dec. 6. It was the 513th of his career, overtaking Gilbert Perreault for 36th place overall.

Notes: Sharks captain and leading goal scorer Patrick Marleau missed his fourth straight game because of an undisclosed lower body injury. ... Boucher faced Anaheim for the first time since was March 28, 2008, when he made 23 saves in a 3-1 victory that snapped a 10-game home winning streak by the Ducks. Evgeni Nabokov was in net for the first five meetings this season and had two shutouts. ... Ryan Getzlaf's assist on Perry's goal made him the third player in Ducks history to record 90 or more points in a season. Teemu Selanne did it four times, and Paul Kariya twice.



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