SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- If the San Jose Sharks maintain this string of
impressive victories much longer, they'll totally lose the element of surprise.
Evgeni Nabokov made 34 saves and Niko Dimitrakos had a goal and an assist in
the Sharks' 2-1 victory Monday night over the Detroit Red Wings in a meeting of
Todd Harvey also scored for the Sharks, who hung on for their third straight
win against a first-place team following victories over Vancouver and Colorado.
San Jose has won 11 of its last 15, earning at least a point in 13 while
surging to a healthy lead in the Pacific Division.
"I can't remember a better stretch than right now, these last three
games," said defenseman Kyle McLaren, who returned from a seven-game injury
absence. "Any time you can beat a team like Detroit, it boosts your
confidence. It shows you can compete against the top teams, and you deserve to
When the season began, almost nobody expected much from the Sharks. They
finished 14th in the Western Conference last spring and made no significant
additions to their lineup while losing top scorers Owen Nolan and Teemu
Instead, the Sharks are chewing up their opponents with speed, discipline
and dominant goaltending -- and even the Red Wings are impressed.
"It was like a playoff game, with a lot of tight battles and scrums in the
corner," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. "They're playing very well. They're
playing with a ton of confidence."
Detroit captain Steve Yzerman moved into a tie for sixth place on the NHL's
career scoring list with a late goal, but Nabokov was otherwise phenomenal in
his first game since his wife, Tabitha, gave birth to their first child last
Curtis Joseph stopped 22 shots for the Red Wings, who began a five-game road
trip with an entertaining, high-energy game against the upstart Sharks. Detroit
lost in regulation for just the second time in nine games.
"When you consider the teams that we just beat, it's certainly
gratifying," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "It builds your confidence that
you can play against anybody. ... I still think we give up too many scoring
chances, and there's a lot of improvement to make ... but our record speaks for
The third period featured an abundance of desperate scoring chances by both
teams. Nabokov made several fine saves, particularly while Detroit kept the
puck in San Jose's end for nearly all of the final two minutes.
After the final horn, Wayne Primeau awarded the game puck to Nabokov, who
planned to save it for 3-day-old Emily Paige Nabokov.
"He made some good saves," Joseph said of Nabokov. "He looked sharp. ...
They look a lot different than last year. They're skating well and getting good
Detroit's powerful offense rarely even got Nabokov off his feet, though he
lost his shutout bid when Ray Whitney found Yzerman with a pass to the slot
with 10 minutes left. It was Yzerman's 1,701st point, tying Mario Lemieux.
While Yzerman reached another milestone, Brett Hull failed to score for the
19th straight game, extending the longest drought of his career.
Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm, San Jose's top two scorers, returned to the
lineup after missing Saturday's win at Colorado with minor injuries. But both
of the Sharks' goals were scored by the aggressive, athletic grinders on their
bottom two lines.
Harvey scored by skating a complete circle around the net, edging past two
defenders to beat Joseph with a quick shot in the first period. It was the
third goal for the grinding forward, who went unclaimed on waivers and spent
the first 18 games of the season in the minors after a rough training camp.
Late in the second period, Dimitrakos beat Joseph with a one-timer on a
sharp pass from Primeau, who also played a strong game.
As usual, hundreds of fans at the Shark Tank wore Detroit jerseys. Their
periodic chants of "Let's go Red Wings!" were drowned out by boos, however.