SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Though the St. Louis Blues tried to turn a playoff
game into a brawl, the San Jose Sharks kept their heads _ and Patrick Marleau
provided plenty of hats.
Marleau scored three goals and Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves, leading the
Sharks to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round
Though Nabokov was nearly perfect again after a Game 1 shutout, San Jose
took a 2-0 lead in the series thanks to its poise and discipline _ and a
career-defining performance by Marleau, the All-Star who scored just one goal
in the final 17 regular-season games.
The Sharks' 24-year-old captain scored in each period of a penalty-filled
game to lead them past the hotheaded Blues, who gave San Jose 10 power plays in
the first two periods.
``We could have overreacted to a lot of things that were going on, but we
didn't,'' Marleau said. ``If we retaliate, then we're playing it right back
into their hands. ... I'm getting used to new linemates, but if I'm working
hard and trying things that will make the team win, it doesn't really matter.''
Marleau has been inconsistent throughout his seven NHL seasons, but his
maturity is growing along with his abilities. After getting two power-play
goals, Marleau sneaked behind the St. Louis defense early in the third for a
short-handed goal on a pass from Vincent Damphousse, who had two assists.
The sellout crowd threw hundreds of hats onto the ice, sending the Sharks
off to St. Louis for Game 3 on Monday. Game 4 is Tuesday.
Though Marleau wasn't scoring, Sharks coach Ron Wilson praised him for his
defense, passing and faceoff work. Wilson was impressed by Marleau's goals, but
thrilled by his team's ability to stay out of trouble.
``It takes a lot of character to survive that environment,'' Wilson said.
``I'm proud to say that we do have a disciplined team. ... We're getting what
we need: good, strong goaltending, great penalty killing and timely power-play
Nabokov was on the verge of his second straight shutout until he allowed a
terrible short-handed goal to Doug Weight with 2:09 to play, ending a streak of
127 scoreless minutes.
While the Sharks thrived with discipline and speed, the Blues and goalie
Chris Osgood unraveled.
St. Louis was called for 11 minor penalties in the first two periods. Some
were questionable, others were glaringly obvious _ and all were inexcusable for
a seventh-seeded team already trailing in the series after San Jose's 1-0
overtime victory in the opener.
``The first game, they let the marginal stuff go,'' said Chris Pronger, who
got six minor penalties. ``All of the sudden, when they switch and call
everything, it's difficult. It's tough to switch gears midstream like that, and
it's up to us to adapt, but it's a little late.''
The Blues have been in the playoffs for 25 straight seasons, but they've
only rallied from a 2-0 series deficit once in franchise history _ and that was
``I don't think they really gave the players a chance to play in Game 2, and
it kind of threw us off balance right from the start of the game,'' St. Louis
coach Mike Kitchen said. ``Some calls we deserved, and some calls weren't
strong calls on the referees' part.''
Nabokov wasn't tested nearly as much as in Game 1. He stopped Dallas Drake
on a first-period breakaway that was the Blues' best scoring chance until
But after matching nearly every save by Nabokov in Game 1, something just
wasn't right for Osgood, who appeared to twist his knee earlier in the game.
After Marleau's third goal, he was replaced by Reinhard Divis.
The Blues also lost their cool after the early calls. Pronger spent eight of
the game's first 14 minutes in the penalty box for a variety of infractions,
and Marleau finally scored on the Sharks' fifth power play.
The Blues came apart again in the second period after Marleau's second goal.
After Kyle McLaren flattened Petr Cajanek with a legal hip check, Keith Tkachuk
got a slashing penalty while trying to goad McLaren into a fight.
``Obviously you don't want to take retaliation penalties, but I'm going to
hit every time I can,'' said Tkachuk, who got four minors. ``That's what I'm
going to do. I'm going to be hard to play against, and if they call penalties,
they call it.''
With 3:39 left in the third, Mike Sillinger went after Scott Hannan,
punching the defenseman with a gloved hand. Pronger got two more minor
penalties in the resulting scrum, exiting the ice to deafening jeers.