A big part of Tuesday’s victory against Dallas was the play of Evgeni Nabokov who posted his second shutout in as many games at HP Pavilion this season.
“It was a great game by everybody,” said Nabokov. “They’ve been the leader (in the division) so far and it was a challenge for us.”
The Dallas Stars were not only leading the Pacific, they were undefeated entering the contest. And despite the shutout by San Jose, the Stars still played a strong contest.
“They came pretty hard and fast,” said Nabokov. “They didn’t give us too many chances on the power play. They are a disciplined team.”
When the Stars came at Nabokov, they didn’t simply throw light shots on net. The Sharks starting netminder faced three breakaways early and was forced to make a dramatic save in the third.
“We got lucky too,” said Nabokov. “They hit a couple of posts and that was fortunate. They created traffic, but the defensemen were on their toes.”
It was Nabokov who was on his toes more than anyone.
“Nabokov won it for us tonight,” said Mark Bell.
His pad stack on Jeff Halpern in the third sent the HP Pavilion crowd into a frenzy.
“Nabby had some huge saves, but his pad stack in the third took the pressure off,” said Ron Wilson. “Those are hug saves and the type great goaltenders make. He got a piece of a Mike Modano tip that could have made it 1-0 Dallas (in the first).”
RING YOUR BELL
Winger Mark Bell scored his second goal in three contests at HP Pavilion and showed no rust from missing the three-game road trip with a sore groin. It is not surprising that Bell is finding the back of the net, but there is a bit of a surprise at who his setup man is. For both tallies it was the NHL’s defending goal-scoring champion Jonathan Cheechoo, not Joe Thornton
, the NHL’s leading assist man in 2005-06, providing the passes.
“Once again he set me up with an empty net dish,” said Bell. “It was nice to be back after a week off skating by myself.”
Even Bell is a little surprised at who is setting him up, but he knows it is due to the respect for Cheechoo’s shot.
“When Cheechoo loads to shoot, goaltenders have to respect it,” said Bell.
“Maybe Cheech will be more of a playmaker this year,” joked Matt Carle.
Bell said likes the pattern of scoring in every game at home.
“I’d like to see if I can ride this one out,” said Bell.
JUST HELPING OUT
Rookie blueliner Matt Carle continues to display his offensive talents. On San Jose’s first goal, it was Carle’s pass to Milan Michalek that directly led to the game-winning mark. Then on Bell’s insurance tally, Carle was instrumental in getting the puck out to Cheechoo heading up ice.
“It is fun to jump up offensively,” said Carle.
His two points moved him within one point of the early rookie scoring race lead and his +2 on the night placed him at +5 on the season, which is tied for first among rookie skaters.
Still, Carle was focused on what could have gone better.
“We can tighten up on tonight,” said Carle. “I gave up two odd-man rushes. You can’t help out on two and give up on four.”
San Jose may have been up two goals heading into the third, but they know that it takes a complete game to win in the modern NHL.
“In the new NHL, a two-goal lead can give false (security),” said Carle. “Who knows, if they score one goal, the momentum can change.”
After surrendering a 4-1 lead in Edmonton two games ago, the Sharks were happy to close things out against a quality club.
“We want to be better playing with the lead,” said Carle. “We did a good job of clogging up the middle and keeping it simple.”
As crazy as it sounds, the Pacific Division has already invoked a bit of early scoreboard watching. San Jose has lost just once in the first six contests and is only tied for first in the Pacific Division and Anaheim can make it a three way tie if they win their next contest.
“We have to win these games to win the division and the conference,” said Captain Patrick Marleau
FEW POWER PLAY OPPORTUNITIES
San Jose usually draws more advantages than their opponents, but that was not the case on Tuesday evening.
“It was a strange game,” said Wilson. “Tonight, we had only one full power play. If I had known the game would go that way, I would have played Joe more five-on-five.”
The Sharks will continue their three-game home stand on Thursday when they host the Detroit Red Wings. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast in high-definition on FSN Bay Area, on KFOX 98.5 FM and on SJSHARKS.com.