San Jose used a strong, continuous game plan and kept their cool in toppling the New Jersey Devils 2-0 Saturday night at HP Pavilion.
Evgeni Nabokov posted his tied-for-the-NHL lead third shutout on the season to top his opposite netminder Martin Brodeur. It marked the Sharks first ever shutout of the Devils in 23 attempts and Nabokov’s 30th career goose egg.
While it may not have looked like the most difficult outing for Nabokov, he did have his challenges.
“They had a couple of screened shots from the blueline and those can be more dangerous than an open shot in the slot,” said Nabokov. “The save on Elias late was a tough one.”
New Jersey is the squad traditionally known for sitting back and pouncing on the other club’s mistakes, but this time they succumbed to their own style of play. Joe Thornton
jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in to blast a one-timer past Brodeur midway through the third and that proved to be the difference.
“We talked before the game that they feed of turnovers,” said Thornton.
For Sharks fans, they were lucky Thornton was in the right place at the right time.
“I’m not sure what happened,” said Thornton. “It was supposed to be Bell out there, but I went in. I wanted to go to that side and happened to find the corner.”
And San Jose never became frustrated when they had trouble mustering many scoring attempts early.
“We played 60 minutes and were patient,” said Nabokov. “We were prepared to win and wanted the two points.”
“The guys did what they had to do when you play a team like New Jersey or Minnesota,” said Wilson. “You have to be patient, be smart, make good dump-ins and move the puck with speed.”
EXCITED TO PLAY BRODEUR
There is a reason Brodeur could go down as the greatest netminder of all-time when he retires, and in his native Quebec he is an icon. And that goes for current NHLers like the Sharks Steve Bernier who also hails from Quebec.
“In my dream game, I would have scored a goal, but the win is the most important thing,” said Bernier. “I grew up watching him and he was a hero of mine in goal. During the lockout he did a lot of work with kids. It is amazing how big he is in Quebec.”
San Jose played one of their better physical contests of the year, outhitting the Devils 21-6 on the night.
“We wanted to be physical on their defense,” said Wilson. “We out hit them 20-3 going into the third.
Mike Grier’s empty netter gave him four on the season, one short of his season total of five with Buffalo last year.
The Sharks have now won five consecutive home games and nine of their last 13 games overall.
“We’ve played three very good games at home,” said Bernier. “We have to keep playing the same way.”
San Jose will begin a four-game road trip on Tuesday when the play the Blues at 5 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.