SAN JOSE, Calif. - Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves to stay perfect since the all-star break, and Christian Ehrhoff scored an early goal in the San Jose Sharks' 2-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
After blanking Colorado on Tuesday night, Nabokov returned to the Shark Tank and posted his 44th career shutout to push San Jose back atop the overall NHL standings with 77 points. His teammates provided strong defence during a Phoenix power play in the final three minutes, and Marcel Goc scored his first goal since Oct. 25 into an empty net with 14.3 seconds left in the Sharks' seventh win in eight games.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 27 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost two straight since the break.
Nabokov, left off the West all-star team despite having 25 wins at the break, extended his personal shutout streak to a franchise-record 169:14 as the Sharks improved to 23-1-2 at the Tank this season. San Jose has allowed 108 goals this season, matching Minnesota for the NHL's fewest.
The Sharks scored their early goal during a power play in the second period when Ehrhoff fired a long, low shot past Joe Thornton's screen in front. The goal was the second in four games for Ehrhoff, who hadn't found the net in his previous 36 games.
While San Jose returned from the break with a win at Colorado, the Coyotes were blown out by Anaheim 7-3 in a discouraging start to their playoff chase. Phoenix remained in second place in the Pacific Division - although the Coyotes and Anaheim are 24 points behind the Sharks.
Dan Boyle, the Sharks' all-star defenceman, missed his second straight game since the break with an upper-body injury, although he claims the all-star game didn't aggravate the undisclosed problem. Boyle's absence has been mitigated by the return of Rob Blake, who missed two games before the break after getting hit in the face with a deflected puck.
San Jose's power play missed Boyle's puck-moving abilities, struggling to find a rhythm despite Ehrhoff's early goal. Coach Todd McLellan also made changes to his top two lines, moving captain Patrick Marleau to the second line and promoting Ryane Clowe to skate alongside Thornton and Devin Setoguchi.
Neither team generated much in the way of serious offence. San Jose had most of the game's early scoring chances, but Clowe's apparent goal midway through the first period was waved off when officials rules he kicked it in.
Bryzgalov yielded all seven goals to the Ducks on Tuesday night, but the Russian was outstanding against the Sharks, making a handful of saves while scrambling on his gloves and pads across his crease.
Blake committed a hooking penalty with 2:50 to play, but the Coyotes didn't generate a particularly good scoring chance against San Jose's defence. Joe Pavelski and Mike Grier both rang pucks off the posts of Bryzgalov's empty net before Goc scored just his second goal of the season.
Notes: Claude Lemieux played in his 1,200th NHL game, including the last three with San Jose after nearly six years out of the league. ... Coyotes RW Peter Mueller didn't make the trip to San Jose after incurring a concussion in Tuesday's loss to Anaheim. He missed just his second game of the season. Daniel Winnik took his spot in the lineup. ... Before the game, San Jose sent D Mike Moore back to its top minor league affiliate in Worcester before Moore could make his NHL debut.