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Goaltending gems in Ottawa
Nabokov outduels Hasek
1/12/06 - by Mike Lee

Opposing one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, Sharks netminder Evgni Nabokov outplayed the master on Thursday night. Nabokov also made 40 saves and earned his first shutout of the season, all en route to a win over one of the strongest teams in the NHL. Patrick Marleau and Nils Ekman provided more than enough scoring punch to beat the host Ottawa Senators 2-0 at Corel Centre, the Sharks fifth win in a row.

Dominik Hasek stopped 34 of 36 shots, some with spectacular saves, but it was Nabokov who kept the puck out of his own net all night. Coming off a strong performance in Boston on Tuesday, Nabokov stoned the best offense in the league, and shut down the third best power play to earn his 27th career shutout.

"It feels great, but it feels even better that we got the win, we got the two points we need and we're ready to move up," Nabokov said.

San Jose repelled a fiery Ottawa push out of the gate and actually out-shot the Senators 13-8 in the opening period. The Senators have two of the league's top five scorers in Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, but San Jose put the clamps on the high octane tandem all night.

Hasek came up big at the end of the opening period by stoning Ekman while the Sharks were on a two man advantage.

The Shark stayed consistent on defense and capitalized when the Senators made a couple of rare mistakes. The first came midway through the 2nd period when Marleau intercepted a long pass by Alfredsson at the Sharks blueline, before racing up ice and beating Hasek with a backhanded move. Alfredsson tried to cut off Marleau's angle, but the Sharks captain used his speed to beat the Swede up the ice.

"He did it before on the same shift so I was just lucky to read it and I don't think he got everything he wanted to on it and I was able to intercept it," Marleau said.

Ottawa almost scored a fortuitous goal early in the 3rd period after a deflection bounced off Senators winger Chris Neil, who was standing at the top of the Sharks crease. The puck landed to the left of Nabokov, who stopped it right on the goal line with a lunge of the glove.

On the ensuing faceoff, Ottawa would get caught in the Sharks zone as Jonathan Cheechoo pushed a loose puck up the ice to center Joe Thornton. With Ekman picking up steam on the right wing, Thornton began a series of four passes between the two, that ended with Ekman stuffing the final pass into an open net after Hasek committed to Thornton on the left post.

"That's how it usually works in hockey, they almost score and we come back and bury that second goal," Thornton said. "It was kind of a backbreaker for them, so it was a big goal for us."

Thornton missed on a pair of scoring chances with a shot that rang off the crossbar early on, and a second shot that bounced off the post in the final period.

"Our problem is that if we don't score five or six goals, we lose the game," Hasek said. "We have to find a way to win these games. I think they worked a little bit harder than we did. It's very important to find a way to win the close games. In the playoffs, that's what it's going to be."

Hasek may have overlooked his opponent at the other end of the ice, as well as the defensive scheme the Sharks employed to shut down one of the better offenses in the league.

"You look up and see 40 shots against, but I don't really remember too many of them being grade-A chances," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "The shots were from the outside, the defense did a great job and our forwards competed like heck."


The game was the last at Corel Centre. The arena will be renamed Scotia Bank Centre on Saturday.

Senators center Jason Spezza was out of the lineup, still recovering from a chest injury which has sidelined him for 10 of the last 11 games.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 1 2
OTT 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, San Jose, Marleau 18, 8:17.
3rd period - 2, San Jose, Ekman 9 (J.Thornton, Cheechoo), 2:45.
1st period - Bochenski, OTT (hooking), 6:29; bench, OTT, served by Fisher (too many men), 7:11; Smith, SJS (goaltender interference), 11:41; McLaren, SJS (holding), 14:05; Gorges, SJS (interference), 19:57.
2nd period - Alfredsson, OTT (hooking), 5:19; Varada, OTT (hooking), 10:25; Schaefer, OTT (high-sticking), 12:14; Gorges, SJS (high-sticking), 15:28.
3rd period - bench, SJS, served by Stevenson (too many men), 11:40; Murray, SJS (delay of game), 14:51; Smolinski, OTT (tripping), 19:27.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 40 40
OTT - Hasek 36 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 13 14 9 36
OTT 8 17 15 40
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 6
OTT 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Dominik Hasek
Patrick Marleau
Referees: Stephane Auger, Greg Kimmerly. Linesmen: Michel Cormier, Derek Nansen.

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