The San Jose Sharks returned to the friendly confines of the HP Pavilion on Thursday night after a five-game east coast road trip. Evgeni Nabokov took his turn in net opposite Kevin Weekes.
for video highlights from tonight's game.
Unfamiliarity between the two clubs showed early as just four shots were posted in the opening 10 minutes of play.
Physically the Sharks were pounding the Rangers, with the biggest hit coming when Kyle McLaren flattened Petr Prucha attempting to enter the zone. When play moved to the Sharks offensive zone, Prucha attempted to run McLaren, but bounced off the hulking blueliner and was on the ice again.
The momentum from the hit provided an extended offensive shift for San Jose that resulted in a power play. Team Teal could not convert despite strong chances, but the crowd was into the affair.
What had been a period completely favoring San Jose turned ugly late. An offensive zone turnover led to a Matt Cullen breakaway and he buried a wrister with just .7 seconds remaining in the first.
The second period began with a strong play by Patrick Marleau
. The Captain fed Steve Bernier driving the net and a goal appeared imminent, but Weekes robbed the QMJHL alum. On the other end, Nabokov made an equal save when he performed the splits to rob Martin Straka, but Straka corralled his own rebound to the side of the net and banked it off Nabokov for the 2-0 lead.
Late in the second, the Sharks began pressing offensively with two power plays and a mini-breakaway by Grier, but they could not beat Weekes on their first 20 shots.
A Sharks turnover late in the middle stanza sent Jaromir Jagr in along on Nabokov, but the nimble netminder matched Jagr move for move and the shot went just wide. The Rangers would take their 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Halfway into the third, the Sharks were controlling play in the offensive zone and had doubled up the Rangers in shots for the game 28-14, but they still could not find the back of the net.
With just over two minutes to play, Kyle McLaren cut the Rangers lead in half as he beat Weekes on a shot the goaltender simply did not see. McLaren fired a shot with eyes from the half boards as he was being hit by the pesky Ryan Hollweg. From there the Sharks went back on the attack.
After pulling Nabokov, the Sharks played their best hockey of the night, containing the puck in the Rangers end for well over a minute. But the bounces seemed to go the Rangers' way the entire night as an innocent clearing attempt by Brendan Shanahan with 10 seconds remaining careemed off the boards in the Rangers zone and into the Sharks empty net giving the Sharks the 3-1 win.
The Sharks continue their home stand on Saturday, hosting the young and exciting Pittsburgh Penguins. The game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area Plus, then joined in progress on FSN Bay Area after the conclusion of the Golden State Warriors basketball game. The game will also be aired on KFOX 98.5 FM and SJSHARKS.com.
Former Sharks blueliner Sandis Ozolinsh was on the ice for the Rangers, while current Sharks forward Ville Nieminen was acquired from the Rangers last year.