San Jose ended a season-high four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.
“We’re just glad to get the two points and put the losing streak behind us,” said Evgeni Nabokov.
“With the four-game losing streak, and the way the Ducks and Stars are playing, every point we get before the All-Star break is big,” said Joe Pavelski
. “You never want to drop two games in a row and we dropped four. We wanted to end that as quickly as we could.”
The puck did not bounce San Jose’s way at the game’s beginning as the Blackhawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t seem to have it the first eight to 10 minutes,” said Sandis Ozolinsh.
San Jose then responded with three unanswered goals to secure the victory and all three tallies came via their special teams units. Team Teal scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded in the win.
“The power play and penalty killing decided the outcome of the game,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson.
Ozolinsh began the scoring parade when he dropped down low and scored a backhander with Jonathan Cheechoo parked in near the crease.
“It was a good job by Cheech out front,” said Ozolinsh. “Our forwards did a great job on the power play being in front of Lalime.”
Then is was Joe Pavelski
marking one up shorthanded after beating a Chicago point man to a loose puck.
“He might not have felt me coming at first and I was able to find the back of the net,” said Pavelski.
For the game-winner, San Jose again put traffic out front as Joe Thornton
shielded Christian Ehrhoff’s point blast. Lalime showed his frustration by shoving at Thornton after the game-winner.
“You could see the frustration on his face after our third goal,” said Ozolinsh.
As important as the goals were, if not for some spectacular netminding by Evgeni Nabokov, the decision could still have gone Chicago’s way. With the game still in doubt, Nabokov’s highlight stops not only came while playing shorthanded but also on Chicago’s two biggest threats in Martin Havlat
and Patrick Kane.
“Nabby saved the day,” said Wilson. “Some guys should be buying him dinner . . . the ones that he bailed out. They were good plays by (Chicago), but absolutely not what we’re trying to do. I wonder if a couple of guys know how to play in our own end or in the middle of the rink with the mistakes we were making tonight.”
“He made some fantastic saves on the penalty kill that kept us in the game,” said Ozolinsh. “He came up big. He’s a reason we won the game.”
“You can’t say enough about those,” said Pavelski. “Those were game changers and we scored after those.”
The first stop came when a juicy rebound went to the all-alone Kane positioned on the far side.
“I tried to react,” said Nabokov. “I knew he was there and tried to get over as quick as possible and was able to make the save.”
The second stop came as Havlat skated behind the defense for a mini-breakaway. Nabokov matched him move for move and turned away the chance.
It may not have been the prettiest Sharks victory, but it still accounted for two points.
“We had to find a way to win tonight and we did it in an ugly way,” said Wilson. “We wanted to be a little more aggressive. We got caught back on our heals early. They were coming at us hard, but we got our equilibrium about half way through the first period.”
BIG BADGER HAT TRICK
It was a big night for the University of Wisconsin as three former Badgers scored. In addition to the Sharks Pavelski, Jack Skille and Adam Burish scored for Chicago, making it a sort of Wisconsin hat trick.
Ozolinsh and Ehrhoff both scored goals on the power play and Craig Rivet, Matt Carle and Ehrhoff also added assists to give the Sharks defensive unit at least one point in the last 11 games. They have produced 26 points (8-18=26) in that span.
Ehrhoff’s tally was his first of the season and Tomas Plihal played for the first time inside HP Pavilion.
had an assist, giving him 11 points in his last seven games (2-9=11).
BLACKHAWKS HEAD COACH DENIS SAVARD
“I liked our effort. I liked the way we battled. It’s unfortunate; we should have had a better result. “
“Even though it’s a loss, there are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. This team (San Jose) has been together for a long time and has been in the playoffs for a long time. Hopefully we can continue with what we’ve been on. Even though it’s a loss, we have to think about the positives.”
“We have one game before the break. Three periods to go and I’m sure our guys are going to deliver a good effort on Thursday.”
The Sharks will host St. Louis Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com will carry the game.