It took six rounds, but the San Jose Sharks
pulled even with the Los Angeles Kings
in the Pacific Division Wednesday night as Ryane Clowe
beat Jonathan Quick
in the shootout before Evgeni Nabokov denied Jarret Stoll
in a pulsating 2-1 decision at HP Pavilion.
It was the fifth win in six games for the Sharks, who also snapped the Kings' four-game winning streak in the process. Nabokov made 28 saves through overtime en route to his 23rd career victory against Los Angeles.
For Clowe, it could finally be the goal that gets the Sharks forward going. He has yet to score this season after enjoying a 22-goal campaign in 2008-09.
"It just hasn't been going in," Clowe said. "I've been getting some chances. Hopefully, that'll be a little breakthrough. The chances are there. I've just got to start putting them in."
The Kings outshot San Jose 13-5 in the opening period but didn't break the scoreless tie until Alexander Frolov beat Nabokov on a wraparound at the 8-minute mark of the second. But Patrick Marleau
tied the game less than seven minutes later and the score would stay that way for the remainder of regulation.
''We played a really good first period,'' Quick said. ''They might not have had their feet underneath them so we got the better of them in the first period. But Nabokov kept them in it and they really stepped it up there in the second and third.''
Marleau rang one off the post to begin the shootout, and Michal Handzus
followed with a goal. But Nabokov wouldn't allow another puck past him.
''When you get to the shootout it's like a lottery and you saw that today,'' Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar
said. ''We had our chances to put it away but everybody seemed to be bobbling the puck and couldn't put it in.''
"Obviously, you're trying to do this every game," Nabokov said. "You come ready to play. It's a matter of being prepared. As a goalie, you just react to the play and try to make the save."
Dany Heatley extended the shootout for San Jose with a goal in Round 3. Neither team found the back of the net until Clowe finally put one home.
"Clowie is a very important player for our hockey club," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Right now, it's just not happening for him. We've tried a lot of different ways. We've tried taking ice time away from him, we've tried playing him with the top players, we've tried talking with him. I felt deep into the shootout that it was an opportunity just to try something else. Maybe that'll be the trigger that gets him going."
Clowe's teammates agreed.
"I'm so happy that it's happened," Nabokov said of Clowe's shootout tally. "He knows that he's put so much weight on himself. He's trying to play well. You can see how hard he's trying. Sometimes, it's too hard. We know the player he is."
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.