San Jose displayed a lot of qualities in their 4-2 victory against Vancouver that will come in handy during the postseason. Evgeni Nabokov made the timely saves, the team came up with goals from multiple lines, strong penalty killing limited a potent offense and the ability to come to the aid of a teammate was displayed when things got rough. All in all, not a bad night of work.
Things began in the nets when Nabokov tested early. It’s not always the amount of saves that counts as much as it is the timing of a save and almost seven minutes into the game Nabokov made one of those key saves.
With Vancouver charging on a two-on-one rush, a pass seamed to set up an easy shot to an open half of the net. Nabokov had other ideas and slid all the way over to turn away the scoring opportunity. He was just getting started.
Then when the Sharks power play took to the ice later in the stanza, the best chance with the puck came from Vancouver and this time it resulted in a breakaway with the closest player another Canuck. The Sharks Olympic netminder reached out and touched enough of the puck enough to prevent a shot attempt.
“Nabby made the big saves early and kept it 0-0,” said Joe Pavelski
. “Then we got the first goal.”
“He was unbelievable,” said Ryane Clowe
. “That power play unit is tough to defend and Nabby came up huge.”
There was only one downside to the final score.
“I wish we could have gotten him the goose egg,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.
There were an amazing 96 minutes of penalties between the two division winners. At one point San Jose had to fend off more than two minutes of five-on-three time for Vancouver. While they eventually allowed a goal, they stopped enough of the power play time to keep control of the affair.
Several of the penalties came from San Jose sticking up for their teammates like when Joe Thornton
and Pavelski were lined up by the Canucks.
At one point the Sharks had six, yes six, players in the penalty box and just eight on the bench.
“It was a little wild,” said Clowe. “It’s one of those things and the guys stuck together. There was a lot of emotion.”
“There was a lot of emotion in the game. We perhaps lost our composure a little bit,” said McLellan. “What I like about it is that there was emotion, I’m sure that it is probably good for both teams heading into the playoffs.”
“There was a lot of room on our side,” said Pavelski of the bench. “We were sticking up for each other.”
The six players in the penalty box made for a rather humorous situation.
“The ref told me to sit down and I told him there was no where to sit,” said Clowe. “He goes, sit on another guy.”
notched his 25th goal of the season in the first period matching his single-season high. Pavelski set that mark last season in 80 games. He needed only 66 games to reach the 25 goal mark this year.
The Sharks received goals from three of their four lines to show off their balanced scoring attack.
The Sharks victory propelled them back into first place in the Western Conference. San Jose will still need some outside help to win the top seed even if they win their final contest.
“It’s something we have to handle,” said Pavelski. “Just win our game.”
Evgeni Nabokov’s 43rd win tied him with Martin Brodeur and Ilya Bryzgalov for the league lead.
FIRST TIMETorrey Mitchell
recorded his first career multi-point game with two assists.
GIVE ME 5Logan Couture
potted his fifth goal of the season. Couture has recorded a point in five of his last six games (3+2=5) and six of his last eight (4+2=6). Couture has seven points (4+3=7) in 12 games since being recalled from Worcester March 16.
4 X 20Joe Thornton
scored his 20th goal of the season. Thornton joins Pavelski (25), Patrick Marleau
(43) and Dany Heatley (39) as the team’s fourth 20-goal scorer.
SHARKS HEAD COACH TODD MCLELLAN
“Heading into the playoffs you have to have contributions from everybody. Teams will reel in on the top scorers, the top players on each team as they try to stay even, and try to stay ahead if they can. The third and fourth line players have to contribute, it’s nice to see some of those guys put pucks in the net and create plays.”
“Perhaps the first save of the night was the biggest, the one on Grabner coming down on the two-on-one. (Nabokov) made a huge save to allow us to find the lead.”
VANCOUVER HEAD COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT
“During the game we lost ‘OB’ (Shane O’Brien) and ‘Romer’ (Aaron Rome) there at the end of the third. Both will be evaluated some more. But that’s part of the game.”
“I thought we played a good first period even though they came out ahead. I thought our execution was good, but I thought we got a little sloppy in the second. And then I thought our guys battled back hard but obviously four goals against this team is too much.”
The Sharks will host Phoenix Saturday night in the regular season finale. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.