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Win in Windy City
Nabokov earns 4th shutout of the season
2/22/07 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks used a steady dose of forecheck pressure and an up tempo game to set the pace in Chicago on Thursday night. Throw in a perfect night by goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and the Sharks cruised to a 2-0 win, their second victory in as many nights. The shutout was Nabokov's 4th of the season and 31st of his career. Joe Thornton and Jonathen Cheechoo provide San Jose with all the offense they would need to knock off the struggling Blackhawks.

Nabokov made things easier for himself by denying the Blackhawks any rebound chances throughout the night. Getting a second start in a row may have helped Nabokov establish a rhythm. Vesa Toskala is still on the shelf, fighting a flu bug and the remnants of a groin injury he sustained last week. Nabokov looked comfortable in net all night, stopping everything Chicago threw at him.

The Sharks jumped out a 1-0 lead on Thornton's 16th goal of the season on a Blackhawks turnover midway through the opening period. Mark Bell intercepted a pass at center ice before dishing the puck to Patrick Marleau, who returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's game with food poisoning. Marleau raced into the Blackhawks zone before chipping the puck off the boards to a trailing Thornton. Jumbo Joe pumped a 20-foot shot between Blackhawks goaltender Patrick Lalime and the left post.

Bell was credited with the secondary assist, extending his scoring streak to 3 consecutive games.

Jonathan Cheechoo put the Sharks up 2-0 at 4:27 of the 2nd period on a point blank shot after a strong forecheck forced a turnover deep in the Chicago zone. Thornton gathered a wrap-around clearing attempt along the right wing boards, then fed Cheechoo in the slot.

Chicago didn't benefit from any lucky bounces.

Things got ugly with a minute to play at Tuomo Ruutu nailed defenseman Kyle McLaren from behind, drawing a 5-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct. McLaren crumpled to the ice after hitting his head against the glass. Injuries are commonplace for the Sharks defenseman, but he was able to skate off on his own power.

Notes:

The Sharks improved to 8-2-0 in the second games of back-to-back game this season. Nolan Schaefer backed up Nabokov in Toskala's absence. Rob Davison, Josh Gorges and Ville Nieminen were healthy scratches.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
CHI 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 16 (Marleau, Bell), 9:58, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, Cheechoo 22 (Thornton), 4:27.
3rd period - None.
 
Penalties
1st period - Seabrook, CHI (holding), 8:54; St. Pierre, CHI (hooking), 15:18; Goc, SJ (holding), 18:09.
2nd period - Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 13:03; Ehrhoff, SJ (hooking), 18:08.
3rd period - Kukkonen, CHI (interference), 10:58; Seabrook, CHI (tripping), 11:47; Ruutu, CHI (boarding - major), 19:03; Ruutu, CHI (game misconduct), 19:03.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 21 21
CHI - Lalime 23 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 8 6 23
CHI 4 9 8 21
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 5
CHI 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Evgeni Nabokov
Jonathan Cheechoo
Attendence
10,125
Officials
Referees: Stephane Auger, Kevin Pollock. Linesmen: Vaughan Rody, Lyle Seitz.

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