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3-goal 2nd paces SJ over Wild
Nabokov earns 2nd straight shutout
3/6/07 - by Mike Lee

Evgeni Nabokov continued his shutout streak, picking up where he left off in Dallas on Sunday. Nabokov stopped all 26 shots he faced for this 2nd shutout in as many games. San Jose jumped on the Wild for three goals in a 6 minute span in the 2nd period to win their second straight game on the road. What made the win more impressive was Minnesota home record. The Wild entered the game with a 22-4-4 record at the Xcel Energy Center.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson decided to attack Minnesota’s defensive minded scheme with sustained offensive pressure early on. The Sharks outshot the Wild 15-6 in the period, keeping Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom on his toes.

The Wild almost turned the tables on San Jose with a pair of one-on-nobody breaks. Todd White slipped past the Sharks defense for the first chance, but Nabokov scooped up a weak shot by the Wild centerman. Brian Rolston came closer later in the period, but Nabokov made a stick save as the Wild winger tried forcing the issue from in tight.

The Sharks stuck to their game plan and it paid huge dividends in the middle period.

Milan Michalek finally solved Backstrom at 7:57 of the 2nd period on a bang-bang play. Marc-Edouard Vlasic fired a puck into the right corner from center ice, where Joe Thornton gathered it in and sent a pass to the net. The puck reached the crease just Michalek arrived for the redirect into the Wild net.

Ryane Clowe would push the Sharks lead to two goals at 10:38 on a put-back after after Steve Bernier missed on a shot in close. Bernier was cutting from left to right on net and tried to jam a shot past Backstrom, but the Wild goaltender snuffed the initial attempt. Clowe gathered up the rebound and slid a shot underneath Backstrom’s right pad.

Jonathan Cheechoo capped the Sharks scoring 3 minutes later with a 30-foot shot that sailed over Backstrom’s shoulder top shelf. Michalek setup the play by carrying the puck into the Wild zone, drawing defenseman Kurtis Foster and Martin Skoula to the slot before sliding a pass to Cheechoo on the left wing. Cheechoo elected to shoot high as Backstrom dropped to his knees to take away the low shot.

The winger’s fortunes have turned around as of late, which has opened things up for his teammates. The goal gave Cheechoo 15 points in his last 14 games.

The Sharks also helped themselves defensively by not committing a single penalty in the game.

Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire pulled Backstrom in favor of Manny Fernandez who made his first appearance since January 30th after spraining his knee. Fernandez had a light load in his lone period, but this night was Nabokov’s who turned aside 10 shots in the final period to earn his 6th shutout of the season.

Kim Johnsson squeezed a shot through Nabokov early in the period, but the Sharks goaltender pounced on the puck as it trickled behind him in the crease.

Marcel Goc just missed on a shot that rang off the crossbar midway through the period.

Notes:

Sharks captain Patrick Marelau returned to the lineup for the first time in four games. Marleau logged 18:07 of ice-time on 22 shifts. He was credited with one shot on goal in the 2nd period.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 3 0 3
MIN 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Michalek 18 (Thornton, Vlasic), 7:57. 2, SJ, Clowe 15 (Bernier, Hannan), 10:38. 3, SJ, Cheechoo 23 (Michalek, Thornton), 13:48.
3rd period - None..
 
Penalties
1st period - Foster, MIN (slashing), 19:34.
2nd period - Carney, MIN (hooking), 1:48; Radivojevic, MIN (high sticking), 8:24.
3rd period - None.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 26 26
MIN - Backstrom 24 21
MIN - Fernandez22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 15 9 2 26
MIN 6 10 10 26
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
MIN 0 of 0
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Joe Thornton
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Attendence
18,568
Officials
Referees: Tom Kowal, Chris Lee. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Darren Gibbs.

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