ST. LOUIS –
Goaltender Brian Boucher made 24 saves in his Sharks debut, earning his 14th career shutout in a 2-0 victory over St. Louis at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night. The win was a milestone for Sharks head coach Ron Wilson who with the victory became San Jose’s franchise leader in wins by a coach with 193.
For San Jose, Saturday night’s game marked the end of their season-long eight-game road trip, finishing with a 5-3 record after dropping the first three games. Saturday also marked the first time this season that the Sharks have won five straight games.
“We played pretty close to perfect,” said a satisfied Coach Wilson. “Considering this is the last game of an eight-game road trip and having to play back-to-back nights, I thought we had a great effort.”
Boucher, who signed a one-year contract with the Sharks on trade deadline day, appeared to be confident and comfortable in net. The seven-year NHL veteran was elated in recording the shutout and returning to the NHL.
“Whatever I can do while I’m here, I will,” Boucher said after the game. “The guys on the back end have poise with the puck, which is good to see for every goaltender. I’m just thrilled to be back in the NHL.”
The Sharks wasted no time in generating scoring opportunities, nearly scoring twice on the game’s opening shift. Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo both had point blank opportunities just 30 second into the first, but were unable to score.
Boucher stood tall in the opening minutes, making key stops in the San Jose end as each team weathered an offensive storm. Boucher’s best stop of the opening period, a pad save while moving from his left to his right just 90 seconds in, denied St. Louis’ best scoring chance of the period.
Jody Shelley made his presence known with a pair of hard-hitting shifts before challenging Blues forward D.J. King to a scrap with 5:30 to play in the first. King accepted and the two traded rabbit punches and haymakers, but neither emerged victorious from the scrap.
Consecutive St. Louis penalties just six seconds apart, first on Keith Tkachuk (slashing) then on Eric Brewer (delay of game), set up San Jose on a 5-on-3 advantage. Needing just 59 seconds, the Sharks converted on the power play for the 1-0 lead.
|Sharks goalie Brian Boucher stops a shot by Blues forward Andy McDonald during the second period on March 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) |
scored in his third straight game, blowing a slap shot from the left point past Manny Legace with 3:19 to go in the first. Brian Campbell and Joe Thornton
were credited with the assists and though he did not receive a point on the play, Cheechoo’s screen on Legace was certainly contributed to the tally.
“We wanted a winning record on the road trip,” said Pavelski, “This isn’t really the way we wanted to do it, losing the first three then winning five straight, but 5-3 is definitely better than 4-4.”
The story of the second period was Manny Legace who at times literally kept the Blues in the game single handedly. Legace turned aside a shorthanded breakaway by Torrey Mitchell
, keeping the margin 1-0 in favor of the Sharks.
The Blues best scoring chance of the second stanza came when Paul Kariya broke in down the right wing and cut towards the net with traffic crashing the edge of the crease. Boucher stood tall however, making one of his five saves in the second.
Moments later, Legace turned aside a Thornton shot targeted for the top corner then a blast by Cheechoo, getting just enough of the puck to force it wide of the cage. In total, Legacy stopped all 13 shots he faced in the middle frame, as the two teams closed out the second, 1-0 in favor of the Sharks.
Mike Grier netted the lone tally in the third, scoring the shorthanded marker just 58 seconds into the period. The goal was Grier’s third shorthanded tally of the season and seemed to shift all the momentum in favor of the Sharks as the 2-0 lead proved too much for St. Louis.
Defenseman Alexei Semenov made his return to the lineup in place of Douglas Murray
who was sidelined with the flu. Goaltender Brian Boucher got the call in net, giving Evgeni Nabokov the night off after his 3-2 victory on Friday night in Detroit.
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Marleau – Pavelski – Setoguchi
Rissmiller – Mitchell – Grier
Shelley – Goc – Roenick
Campbell – Rivet
Carle – Ehrhoff
Semenov – Vlasic
Boucher – Nabokov
The Sharks return to the friendly confines of HP Pavilion at San Jose, hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. The game is set for 7:30 PM (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in HD, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.