It’s amazing what a few days difference can make in sports. The week began with San Jose waking up in second place in the Pacific Divison and fourth place in the Western Conference. Now the Sharks are back atop both the Pacific Division and the Western Conference thanks to their 3-0 shutout win against Dallas. The victory also secured the Sharks playoff spot for the upcoming postseason.
Prior to the contest, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan noted the club had starting climbing back to their expected level of play with their win in Minnesota, but that one game did not mark a complete return. After Thursday’s win, McLellan noted another big step.
“We’re closer,” said McLellan. “They used the same recipe tonight. Now it’s how long can you hold onto the recipe? It is the right way to play.”
The players agreed.
“We’re definitely a better team that three games ago,” said Dan Boyle
. “I think the forwards are the biggest (reason). They determine how aggressive we are. The third high guy is a big deal.”
“It’s a building process,” said Evgeni Nabokov noting the club had fewer turnovers and odd man rushes. “Getting ready for the playoffs is really important.”
Defensively aware forwards let the blueliners roam a bit more and, with the help of the power play, defensemen Rob Blake and Dan Boyle
scored the first two goals.
“We had some good movement, if we’re not moving around it’s (easy to defend),” said Boyle.
Part of the reason for the Sharks return to the mountain top was the play of Nabokov who recorded his NHL milestone 50th career shutout.
“I don’t know if it’s more special,” said Nabokov of the win coming in an important game. “I wanted to get this out of the (way) and move on.”
“He played well the last two games and has made key saves, a great night for him,” said Boyle.
Sharks Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas has worked with Nabokov since he came to North America and took a little extra enjoyment from the evening.
“I think it is a tremendous accomplishment and to have it be with one team makes it even more special,” said Thomas. “It’s been fun to watch him grow. He’s had some bumps and challenges and he’s fought them off and here he is with 50 shutouts.”
Thomas reflected back to Nabokov’s first camp with the Sharks organization and said there was one person who quickly picked up on what Nabokov could be.
“Warren (Strelow) knew he was special,” said Thomas.
Devin Setoguchi seemed to have an extra gear going whenever he was on the ice against Dallas.
“I liked Devin’s game,” said McLellan. “He came out and established himself on the forecheck and put himself in a position to shoot. I wish he could take a seat and watch himself play.”
notched his first goal at HP Pavilion this season.
The Sharks now have 100 points on the season, the fourth consecutive season that they have passed the century mark. They also clinched their fifth consecutive playoff appearance.
Jed Ortmeyer skated in his 300th NHL game with the contest against Dallas.
Boyle scored his 400th career point (106-294=400) his goal in the second period. He added to that total with an assist in the third period.
Blake’s power-play goal moves him into a tie with Paul Coffey for third place in all time power-play goals (134) by a defenseman. He is also now in sole possession of 18th place in career points (239-533=772) by a defenseman.
SHARKS HEAD COACH TODD McLELLAN
“We won some faceoffs, we got pucks to the net and we had bodies there, it’s as simple as that.”
“Its great to see Nabby take it down, only one goal against in the last two games, played extremely well.”
DALLAS HEAD COACH MARC CRAWFORD
“They had a lot of power plays. That was the difference in the game. You give that many opportunities to a team, and they were given a lot of opportunities, they capitalize on a lot of them and that allowed them to get the lead.”
“It was a pretty even first period. In the second period, the three penalties in a row that we got were fairly significant. I think a lot of times you need to have a little bit of feel for the game as a player. What’s being allowed, and what isn’t. And I thought that was very difficult for us tonight.”
“On the other side of it I thought the Sharks played pretty good. They were quick on the forecheck. I just thought we took too many penalties.”
San Jose will host Vancouver Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.