San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur engaged in a classic goaltenders' duel before a capacity crowd at the HP Pavilion on Saturday night with the Sharks prevailing 2-0.
to watch video highlights from Saturday's game.
San Jose was forced to play without Milan Michalek (bruised arm) and Jonathan Cheechoo (leg) again as the two are out with day-to-day injuries.
The early going saw strong offensive chances for San Jose on several rushes, but Brodeur turned away the outside shots. Mike Grier gave the crowd their first big reason to cheer when he pounded an unsuspecting Devils player into the rear boards five minutes into the affair.
Thornton came close to posting the game’s first tally when his redirect hit the crossbar. On the other end, Brian Gionta’s redirect was coolly collected by Nabokov.
Mark Bell almost stopped a scoreless first period when Thornton fed him on the side of the crease, but Brodeur kept the puck pinned along the post and the first finished 0-0 with each club posting seven shots.
A Sergei Brylin hooking penalty one minute into the second put Team Teal on their first power play, but it was quickly negated by a Steve Bernier boarding call.
Grier was beautifully setup in the slot by Thornton when five-on-five play resumed, but Brodeur robbed him on the doorstep.
Nabokov had some magic of his own when he faced a two-on-one from the Devils. Matt Carle, the lone defender back, did the right thing by covering the pass and Nabokov was left alone with Brylin. The Russian Olympic netminder forced Brylin to make the first move and made the spectacular glove save.
When San Jose had their first full power play thanks to a Brian Rafalski penalty, they swarmed Brodeur for two complete minutes, but the Quebec netminder showed why is among the all-time greats. He made two strong stops, but it was his stickhandling that twice cleared the puck to keep the game scoreless.
With four minutes left in the middle stanza, Marleau fed Joe Pavelski
and the rookie ripped off a one-timer, only to watch Brodeur steer it away.
Just as the first period concluded, the game would be 0-0 after 40 minutes of play.
The tight checking evident all game long continued early in the third as neither club could muster many offensive chances.
San Jose would finally solve Brodeur thanks to a stellar individual effort by Thornton. The current league MVP picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated across the blueline. He then skated around Brad Lukowich to create some space and unleashed a blast from the left faceoff circle that snuck in the far side. It took 50 minutes, but San Jose had secured the game’s opening tally.
With seven left in third, the Devils put on their most sustained effort of the game. The puck was free for the taking a couple of times in front of Nabokov, but Team Teal managed to clear it each time.
Patrick Rissmiller was whistled for a high-sticking minor with a minute-and-a-half remaining, opening the door for New Jersey. But the penalty killers rose to the occasion and Grier added a shorthanded empty net goal with seven seconds remaining to give the Sharks the hard earned 2-0 victory.
San Jose will travel to St. Louis for a Tuesday showdown with the Blues and the game will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.