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Late goal from Milan Michalek lifts Sharks to 3-2 win over Ducks

He made up some ground Wednesday night, scoring twice in San Jose's 3-2 victory over Anaheim. Milan Michalek scored on a power play with 3:46 remaining to give the Sharks the win and a split of their two-night, home-and-home series against the Ducks.

"I was a little worried because I wasn't getting the chances earlier, so it meant that I was obviously doing something wrong and maybe got into some bad habits," said Cheechoo, who has 20 goals this season. "But I've been working hard in practice and trying to do a little extra to get my game back."

Cheechoo also had two goals in a 7-4 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday and usually plays well against the Ducks. He had his first career hat trick against them Dec. 20, 2005.

"He's been a thorn in our side," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "He can find those open spaces in the net and he's patient with the puck.

"He scored two again tonight and we've got to find a way to limit his offensive production."

Ryane Clowe assisted on all three San Jose goals, and Joe Thornton assisted on both of Cheechoo's scores.

"Joe's an amazing passer," Cheechoo said. "I got to see it first-hand last year.

"I've been struggling this year, but he's been kind of finding a way to get me the puck and I'm just letting loose and shooting it."

The Sharks' victory in the rematch moved them back to within five points of the Pacific Division-leading Ducks.

"Our stick-to-itiveness and combativeness were much better," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "It was nice to see some guys who struggled get rewarded by getting some big points, like Cheech and Milan.

"We need those two guys if we're going to do anything as we go through the stretch run here."

With Anaheim's Joe DiPenta off for hooking and just three seconds remaining on the ensuing power play, Michalek took a pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic all alone in the slot and beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a 40-foot slapshot that trickled between the goalie's pads.

Vesa Toskala made 20 saves for the Sharks, who outshot Anaheim 13-4 in the third. Bryzgalov stopped 26 shots for Anaheim.

Teemu Selanne and Shawn Thornton scored for the Ducks.

Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer, in his second game back from a foot injury, blamed himself for the defeat.

"I can take responsibility for those first two goals," he said. "I made bad decisions that allowed them to get those opportunities.

"In close games like that, it comes down to a couple of mistakes or breaks either way."

Cheechoo tied it 2-2 with his second goal of the game, midway through the third. Thornton, skating down the crease, slid the puck to Cheechoo on the right side. Cheechoo waited for Bryzgalov to commit, then flipped the puck over the goalie's shoulder.

Shawn Thornton scored 44 seconds into the third, just his second goal of the season, to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead.

Selanne had tied it 1-1 at 14:52 of the second. The goal was the 36-year-old's 32nd of the season and 63rd point.

Following a scoreless first, Cheechoo put the Sharks ahead at 9:22 of the second. It took more than a minute and a half for the score to go on the board.

Cheechoo, in the slot on the left, blasted Thornton's pass from behind the goal line and the puck sailed past Bryzgalov and into the net. But it bounced all the way back out, the red light didn't go on and referee Tim Peel immediately waved it off, even as Cheechoo raised his arms in celebration.

The Sharks' bench protested, but there was no whistle for another 1:36, and when the play finally was reviewed, it clearly was a goal.

Notes: Selanne's goal was the 524th of his career, tying Bryan Trottier for 27th on the NHL's all-time list . . . Clowe's three assists tied his career high and he has 22 points in 15 games since coming back from an injury . . . Thornton has eight assists during a five-game streak.


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