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Marleau and Clowe each score, add two assists as Sharks defeat Coyotes 5-2

Clowe and Patrick Marleau each had a goal and two assists, and the Sharks beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 Thursday night for their seventh victory in eight games.

Clowe redirected a pass from Joe Thornton midway through the second period, scoring yet another goal simply by being in the right place. The little-known forward has nine goals in seven games since returning from an injury and getting a spot on a line with Thornton and Marleau, who have scored 17 points apiece during the Sharks' eight-game surge.

Troy Clowe, who runs a crab-and-shrimp fishing business back home in Fermeuse, N.L., got to see his son's fourth multipoint game in two weeks.

"He's been out here for training camp, but this was his first game at the Tank," Ryane Clowe said. "I was glad I scored for him."

Milan Michalek and Matt Carle also scored before Thornton added an empty-net goal for the Sharks, whose current surge began after a humiliating 8-0 loss at Phoenix on Dec. 30. With four straight wins, San Jose is within four points of the first-place Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division standings for the first time since mid-November.

The Sharks were relentlessly physical in the clubs' fifth meeting in 5½ weeks, from Rob Davison's one-sided fight with Josh Gratton to Doug Murray's open-ice hits and Clowe's tough play in front of the net. Coach Ron Wilson loves his team's transformation since that awful night in Glendale.

"When you look back, that was the best thing that happened to us, losing 8-0 in Phoenix," said Wilson, whose team won 4-1 in the clubs' previous meeting five days earlier. "We were able to address a bunch of issues and get ourselves back on track."

Vesa Toskala made 23 saves in his sixth consecutive victory for the Sharks, who didn't get a goal from the NHL's best power play for the first time in that eight-game surge. San Jose had 19 man-advantage goals in its previous seven games - the most in the league during a seven-game span in nearly 20 years.

"That was huge. We haven't had five even-strength goals in what seems like forever," Wilson said.

Fredrik Sjostrom and Travis Roche scored infrequent goals in the Coyotes' fourth loss in five games following a seven-game win streak. Mikael Tellqvist stopped 28 shots, but Phoenix's six-game road winning streak was snapped when its stars couldn't score.

Although the Coyotes limited San Jose to just three power plays and didn't take a penalty in the game's final 26 minutes, the Sharks still generated their usual flurry of offence.

"It was like a pinball game out there," Tellqvist said. "The puck was bouncing back and forth. I think three of their goals came off guys right in front of us. ... Marleau and Thornton are among the top players in the league, and it's tough defending against that calibre of player. They have great patience. They hold the puck until they see an opening."

Sjostrom got his fifth goal of the season just six minutes in, but Marleau tied it by deflecting Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot in front for the San Jose captain's team-leading 22nd goal.

Michalek put the Sharks ahead early in the second period, tipping home Jonathan Cheechoo's shot. Cheechoo, the once-struggling all-star game starter, now has five goals and seven assists during an eight-game points streak.

Roche's second goal in 10 games pulled the Coyotes to 3-2 in the third period, but Carle slammed home his fifth of the season with 9:20 to play.

"Despite the score, it was really a pretty exciting hockey game," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It was like a playoff game with the noise and excitement."

Notes: With a four-point deficit and two games in hand on Anaheim, Wilson says the Sharks are in the Ducks' rear-view mirror: "Objects are closer than they appear right now." ... The Sharks have given up the first goal in nine of their last 11 home games. ... San Jose D Kyle McLaren sat out after undergoing minor arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee.


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