Two points are two points. It may not have been how it was drawn up on the blackboard, but the Sharks 1-0 shootout victory against Colorado did the trick and put the Sharks in a position to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy next Thursday night at home.
“As a team, we talked about being in control and right now we are in control,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “It’s where we want to be. But that doesn’t mean the opposition we play against or the other teams we are battling with are just going to roll over and play dead. We don’t expect that. We have to take care of our own business and we look forward to that opportunity on Thursday.”
Boston’s game on Thursday will be over before the Sharks contest begins and a loss by Boston prior, or a Sharks victory, would prevent the Bruins from catching San Jose.
Detroit’s game on Thursday will still be going on when San Jose’s begins, but if the Red Wings fail to win the contest or the Sharks garner just one point against Phoenix, the Western Conference title will be clinched.
“Our goal is to come in first in the league, but we won’t win many games with this effort,” said Devin Setoguchi. “It’s nice to know one game can wrap it up.”
Both Evgeni Nabokov and Colorado’s Peter Budaj were credited with shutouts for not allowing a goal in 65 minutes of action. Nabokov however earned the victory by stopping all three shootout attempts.
Both netminders were challenged on the night, but there were just five combined shots in the first period. That was one more than the franchise-low of four shots in one period set Jan. 13, 2007 at Phoenix, when in the first period the Sharks had three shots and the Coyotes had one.
Nabokov was proud of his teammates for sticking with the plan and not getting rattled.
“We didn’t get frustrated and had some chances,” said Nabokov. “We’ve got to give them credit.”
Nabokov’s teammates know why they were in a position to win the game.
“It came down to Nabby making three big saves for it to happen,” said Joe Pavelski
Pavelski scored the shootout winner and is a regular in that spot for San Jose.
“I’ve had some success and the confidence level is there,” said Pavelski.
Mike Grier and Claude Lemieux both returned to action after extended layoffs. Grier skated in more than 14 minutes of ice time and Lemieux was on for more than 11 minutes.
“My conditioning was good, but my timing was off,” said Lemieux. “How many weeks was I off? Six?”
Grier was part of the Sharks perfect penalty killing unit for the night that stopped all three Avalanche efforts.
“We expect him to be a leader for us (on the penalty kill) in the playoffs,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.
SHARKS, HEAD COACH TODD McLELLAN
“I don’t think it’s that we disrespected our opponent tonight. I don’t think we played that well. They did a very good job in defending us, getting above us. Making it difficult to enter their zone. We didn’t handle it well early in the game. In the second period after we discussed it a little bit, we got going. We can play a lot better and we expect more from each other.”
AVALANCHE HEAD COACH TONY GRANATO
“It was a pretty good game all the way around for a 0-0 game. I thought it was very entertaining and I thought our guys had it played pretty darn solid all the way around to be in the game and we did. Obviously both goalies were extremely good. When you think of a 0-0 game you think it’s a boring game. I didn’t see the game as boring at all.”
“They are a great team with a great goalie and Nabokov was probably the in three of the games. Nabokov was the difference in us getting points and not getting points.”
San Jose will host Phoenix Thursday at 7:30 in the season finale that will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at sjsharks.com.