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Nabokov shines in shutout
26 saves for the Sharks goaltender
10/7/06 - by Mike Lee

Opening the season against two soft teams is one way to overcome traditional slow starts. Having your goaltender shutout the opposition is another. Evgeni Nabokov turned in a strong 1st period on Saturday night, and coasted after his teammates converted on their first two power play chances en route to a 2-0 shutout of the visiting New York Islanders.

Nabokov stopped 14 shots in the first period, while his teammates kicked the offense into gear. The Islanders tried stepping up the tempo early in the contest after giving up six goals to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. New York's sustained pressure kept Nabokov busy, but he seemed to see every shot clearly.

"It's always good to start like that and get your first win but it's nothing more than that," Nabokov said. "They were coming to the net pretty hard but when there were rebounds the defense was able to clear the puck. We did a good job on penalty-killing too."

San Jose converted on a Chris Simon slashing penalty midway through the opening period. San Jose's primary and secondary power play units have been on a tear, converting on 4 of 14 opportunities in the first two games of the season.

Patrick Marleau setup the first San Jose goal with a pass to Steve Bernier, chipped the puck over to a slashing Matt Carle on the left wing. The Sharks defenseman took Bernier's pass and buried it from 15 feet out, after Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro over committed on what he thought was going to be a shot from Bernier.

Carle also scored a goal on opening night. His second tally of the season ties him for the team lead in goals with Milan Michalek.

"Those power plays worked out well," Carle said. "We had some good shots. When Patrick got the puck in the corner I knew he saw me. All I had to do was one-time it."

Marleau and Bernier would setup the Sharks second goal less than four minutes later, except Marleau would earn the primary assist. With Andy Hilbert in the box serving a hooking penalty, Bernier and Marleau worked another set of passes that forced DiPietro to move laterally enough that he exposed a lane for Christian Ehrhoff.

Marleau setup Ehrhoff with a pass in the slot, for a one-timer that sailed over DiPietro's shoulder.

The Sharks out shot New York 14-5 in the middle period, but failed to capitalize on their offensive chances. Failure to put the Islanders away in that period setup an interesting ending.

Alexei Yashin missed on a scoring chance eight minutes into the 3rd, and Miroslav Satan failed to convert on a golden opportunity after Ville Nieminen was sent off for hooking at the 14:35 mark.

Nabokov shut down both scoring opportunities to earn his first victory of the season. The shutout leaves an interesting dilemma for Sharks head coach Ron Wilson, who must now decide who to start in goal in Calgary on Monday. Vesa Toskala allowed two soft goals in the season opener, and Nabokov recorded a shutout in his first appearance of the year.

"When your goalkeeper is hot like that it makes it easy for the rest of us," Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "They came out hard and we were under fire in the first 10 minutes or so. We started to clamp down and our power play took over."

The Islanders limp off to Southern California to finish up their West Coast swing before returning to Long Island to face the Boston Bruins next Saturday.

"It's too easy to look at the mistakes right now than the positives," Islanders' coach Ted Nolan said. "We need to tighten up our defense and grab some chemistry. Rick played a great game. Both of the goals came quickly and he wasn't at fault."

Notes:

Kyle McLaren landed his first knockout of the season with a bone-jarring hit on Jason Blake in the 1st period. Blake tried carrying the puck around the left dot, when McLaren lowered the boom on him with a devastating check that forced Blake head over heels, knocking the Islanders helmet off.

Sharks winger Mark Bell skated off late in the 3rd period after tangling with the end boards. Bell did not return to the ice after the incident. His injury was also not disclosed


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
NYI 0 0 0 0
SJ 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, San Jose, Carle 2 (Bernier, Marleau), 13:51, (pp). 2, San Jose, Ehrhoff 1 (Bernier, Marleau), 17:33, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
 
Penalties
1st period - Grier, SJS (hooking), 5:03; Michalek, SJS (hooking), 8:16; Simon, NYI (slashing), 13:44; Hilbert, NYI (hooking), 17:12.
2nd period - Gervais, NYI (hooking), 2:33; Witt, NYI (holding), 10:09; Thornton, SJS (tripping), 18:10.
3rd period - Bates, NYI (holding), 1:44; Simon, NYI (unsportsmanlike conduct), 5:23; Carle, SJS (interference), 5:23; Gorges, SJS (hooking), 6:10; Hill, NYI (holding the stick), 8:36; Nieminen, SJS (hooking), 14:35.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
NYI - DiPietro 27 25
SJ - Nabokov 26 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
NYI 14 5 7 26
SJ 9 14 4 27
Power Play Conversion
NYI 0 of 5
SJ 2 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Patrick Marleau
Matt Carle
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Tom Kowal, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Don Henderson.

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