“The game had its ups and downs and we found a way to win,” said Evgeni Nabokov who returned to action in the win. “It’s really important to find a way to win close games. We always find a way and somebody makes a difference.”
The deciding play began with Thornton in a battle for a loose puck in the Sharks offensive zone and once he corralled the vulcanized rubber, he used his big body to shield it and find Ryane Clowe
along the half boards. Thornton had just begun working as he then strove toward the net where Clowe delivered a pinpoint pass for the winner.
“It’s a 50/50 battle for the puck and sometimes it goes your way,” said Thornton. “Clowe fed me a great pass and it was pretty much an empty net.”
The Sharks may not have reached overtime had it not been for a miraculous blocked shot by Dan Boyle
. On the play, a turnover gave Martin Havlat
the puck alone on Nabokov. “Nabby” dove for the poke check, but it did not stop the shot.
That is when Boyle slid into the net and let the puck carom off him.
“Danny did a great job of stopping it and helping me out,” said Nabokov.
The play went to video review, but the no goal ruling was upheld.
“I was just down in the net praying,” said Boyle. “I’m not sure what happened. I just reacted.”
The Sharks saw Evgeni Nabokov return to the lineup and he was in his usual strong form.
“It was a great first game for him and he is only going to get better,” said Boyle.
McLellan was glad to see his top netminder back in the pipes.
“It was great to have Nabokov back,” said McLellan. “He played tremendous. He did a good job of not leaving loose change in front. It was one of his best games of the year.”
The Sharks were down as a group about a difficult second period that saw their first period lead disappear.
“We had a great first and kind of fell asleep,” said Thornton. “We hadn’t played in a few days.”
“I think we were like a rubber band,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Stretched one way and rebounded another. The inconsistencies in the night were a little troubling.”
HOME SWEET HOME
The victory gives the Sharks wins in every home game this season except for an overtime loss to Nashville in which they posted 57 shots and recorded one point for getting to overtime.
The Sharks have now won 13 consecutive contests against the Blackhawks.
When Sharks winger Mike Grier was called for a boarding major at the 15:24 mark of the second, it was a bit of a surprise that it was more than a minor penalty.
“I was just trying to finish my check,” said Grier. “I don’t know if he didn’t see me. As soon as I heard the whistle, I knew it was (called) a penalty. I didn’t think it was five.”
Grier is known for being a strong clean player and while he had no bad intentions on the play, he still sends his best wishes to Aaron Johnson.
“It’s unfortunate and I hope he’s all right,” said Grier. “I have too much respect for all the players in the league and you don’t want to see anyone hurt.
Nabokov is friendly with Nikolai Khabibulin and when the Chicago netminder had to leave the game, Nabokov skated over to offer support and tap his pads.
“I was just concerned,” said Nabokov. “He is one of the best goalies in the league and he’s proving it again.”
The top line of Marleau, Thornton and Setoguchi accounted for two of the three goals and they had plenty of other chances.
“I probably should have had three or four more the way Joe was setting me up,” joked Marleau.
The Sharks moved to 2-0 when wearing their Seagate Black Armor jerseys.
The Sharks allowed only two shots in the first period, marking the fewest number of shots they have given up in a period this season.
TIED FOR 4TH ALL-TIME
Rob Blake’s first period goal tied him with Phil Housley for fourth all-time in power play goals by defensemen.
The Sharks top line of Thornton (4+7=11), Setoguchi (5+6=11) and Marleau (4+5=9) extended their point streaks to six games. Setoguchi’s set a career high for most consecutive games with a point (6) and most consecutive games with an assist (6).
The Sharks continue to lead the National Hockey League in points with 37 points (18-3-1).
BLACKHAWKS HEAD COACH JOEL QUENNEVILLE
“Well, we got a point in a tough building and in overtime anything can happen. We had good possession on the goal and were normally good with it in that situation, so it’s a tough turnover and it just got through there.”
“I’ve seen worse first periods in this building and you have to weather the storm. They’re probably the best starting team in their own building and (Khabibulin) kept us in there and gave us a chance to get into the game. It was a better last forty for sure, but (Khabibulin) did a hell of a job for us.”
The Sharks will visit Dallas at 5:30 p.m. PST on Friday in a game that will be available on CSN Bay Area (it will begin on CSN+), 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.