SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Some nights, you just don't have it.
Such was the case for San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who fought the puck for much of Game 2 on Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche. But Nabokov made a pair of key saves on Matt Duchene in overtime, which allowed the Sharks to rally for a wild 6-5 overtime victory and even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
"It was really big," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Nabokov's efforts in overtime. "The 19 guys in front of him did a very good job of playing through the early goals against and playing for him. In overtime, he made some very good saves."
Nabokov, who played well in a 2-1 loss in Game 1 two nights earlier, allowed five goals on 22 shots on Friday. Three of those goals came on just four shots in the second period.
"I wasn't able to make any key saves during the game," Nabokov said. "And then I made two saves (in overtime)."
Colorado struck just 1:10 into the game on a goal that was credited to Kyle Cumiskey. The puck hit both of Nabokov's defensemen -- Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- before finding its way into the net. Chris Stewart gave the Avs a 2-1 lead just 24 seconds into the second period on a breakaway after the puck hit an official before goalie Craig Anderson connected with a Stewart on a long pass.
"It's hard for Nabby because we've got four goals up on the board against, and maybe only 10 or 12 shots," McLellan said. "But when you look at the goals, the first one goes off somebody's shoulder or face and in. The second one, they get a break … it goes off the referee to the goalie for a breakaway. The third one is borderline offside. At four and five, you probably want to make some saves there, but it's a hard game for him to play in. I thought he did a real admirable job of sticking with it."
Stewart notched his second of the game at 5:34 of the third to give Colorado a 5-4 lead, but Joe Pavelski tied it with 31.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. That's when Nabokov finally started to appear comfortable.
"Nabby was there when he needed to be," forward Scott Nichol said. "He had some good saves in overtime and towards the end of the third. We have all the confidence in the world in him. We realize he's a great goalie. He's our rock. We're lucky to have him."
The Sharks' ability to rally late allowed them to head to Denver with a split. The series resumes at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night, when Nabokov hopes to give his club a stronger effort from start to finish.
"They did a hell of a job by putting the pucks in the net and showing the character out there," Nabokov said. "I wish I can make the one save and get the guys going, but I wasn't able to. But they definitely had their game on. We battled hard."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL