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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Nabokov hung out to dry in first period

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- If Evgeni Nabokov had trouble getting to sleep Thursday night, 6-foot-3, 222-pound Johan Franzen was the likely reason.

And if the San Jose Sharks goalie did manage to get a little shut-eye, chances are he had plenty of nightmares about the Detroit Red Wings power forward.

Not that Nabokov could be blamed much for the Sharks' 7-1 blowout defeat in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, but coach Todd McLellan mercifully lifted him in favor of Thomas Greiss after a first period in which the Red Wings scored five goals on nine shots.

Franzen, who has collected a point in all 11 of the Red Wings' playoff games, assisted on Todd Bertuzzi’s goal to open the scoring and proceeded to rip off three consecutive goals in a 3:26 span on the way to a six-point performance (four goals, two assists).

"The way the night was going, we didn't want to leave (Nabokov) in there," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's played a lot and worked hard lately. It was time to put Thomas in there and spark a team. You know, I thought that Thomas may have been our best player tonight."

Greiss turned aside 26 of 28 shots in two periods of work, allowing Nabokov to get some rest for Game 5 on Saturday at HP Pavilion.

"There’s no blame," Sharks captain Rob Blake said. "The whole team was bad. It wasn’t one guy. We were all bad in the first (period)."

Nabokov began the night with a 2.14 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in nine playoff games, though his numbers against the Red Wings in the first three games of the series -- 2.89 average and .899 save percentage -- weren’t nearly as impressive.

But Nabokov said he didn’t anticipate a game like this.

"I didn’t see that one, but you never know," he said. "You never want that."

Nabokov didn’t have a whole lot of help from his teammates, though he refused to point a finger at anyone after the game.

"I never like to separate 'my goal' or 'not my goal' and stuff like that," he said. "It's all team work. Those quick ones, they really knock you out pretty quick. We cannot afford that. The first 10 minutes … we never recovered.

"I think after the first three goals, it put us in a hole and we never had a put back. They were coming and coming and coming. They were determined today. They were shooting and following, and they were first to the puck."

Despite the loss, Nabokov said that he and his teammates remain confident that they will bounce back with a much better effort Saturday.

"This was one game and now we have a chance to go back home and recover," he said. "It’s one of those days again that we talk about all the time. After a win and after a loss, we like to put it in the past. So hopefully we will get back to work and put our gloves on."



It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday