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Nabokov shines in shutout
Sharks win record 8th straight on the road
12/28/07 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks set a franchise record with their 8th consecutive road victory on Friday night, with a nail biter in St Louis. Milan Michalek ended a defensive standoff with the game's only goal at 16:55 of the 3rd period to unlock a 0-0 stalemate. Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 39th career save to help propel the Sharks to the league's best road record.

Both teams played tentatively in the opening period, trying to feel each other out. The Blues had lost 7 of their last 10 games entering the contest and took few chances early on. Things didn't get interesting until the last three minutes of the 1st period, after a couple of late penalties gave each team power play opportunities.

San Jose had the first crack at scoring after the Blues were whistled for too many men on the ice, but the Sharks anemic power play continued to fizzle. San Jose mustered a single shot on goal, but that was exacerbated by a horrible interference penalty by Milan Michalek with 1:52 to play in the period.

The Blues turned up the heat on their man advantage chance, narrowly missing a goal by Jay McClement on a one-timer down low. A series of quick passes gave the Blues two more chances, to score, but Paul Kariya mishandled the puck in each instance.

Thornton missed a wide open net on another Sharks power play with 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd period. The Sharks spent the entire 2 minutes trying to setup a scoring chance, and when it finally came, Thornton rushed a shot on a wide open net.

The Blues went on the power play shortly after, when Torrey Mitchell was called for hooking. Kyle McLaren committed a high sticking penalty 27 seconds into the Mitchell penalty to give the Blues a 5-on-3, but Nabokov made two outstanding saves to kill the Blues threat. Martin Rucinsky had Nabokov dead to rights, but the Sharks goaltender denied the Blues forward with a glove save.

The penalties the Sharks amassed in the period allowed for few opportunities in the offensive zone. As a result, the Sharks only put 2 shot s on goal.

More of the same ensued in the 3rd period. After Christian Ehrhoff was sent off for hooking, the Blues again failed to solve Nabokov. As Ehrhoff's penalty expired, Joe Thornton found the Sharks defenseman breaking up ice with a centering pass the created a 1-on-nobody break. Ehrhoff was hooked on the play and was awarded a penalty shot, but Ehrhoff tried to make two moves on Legace, who easily snuffed out the free shot.

Michalek finally broke the ice with his 13th goal of the season with just 3:05 left in regulation. Patrick Marleau started the sequence by creating a turnover in the neutral zone. Steve Bernier then took a feed from Thornton around the back of the Blues net, then tried to put the puck on net, but his shot deflected off a St Louis defender in the crease. The puck kicked out into the slot, where Michalek leaned into a shot that hit the upper right corner of the net.

Michalek's shot was only the 6th of the period, but it was all the offense the Sharks would need. San Jose's defense gave Nabokov the rest of the game off, denying the Blues from taking any shots over the final 3 minutes.

The Blues pulled Legace with a minute to play, but the Sharks intercepted to attempts to gain the one. Patrick Rissmiller just missed an empty net goal, then Michalek elected to burn clock by dumping the puck rather than run the risk of turning it over and giving St Louis a scoring chance.

Game Notes:

The Sharks assigned forward Devin Setoguchi to Worcester on Friday. The rookie has been mired in a scoring slump and has raised the ire of head coach Ron Wilson with his lackadaisical play of late.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 1 1
STL 0 0 0 0
1st period - None.
2nd period - None
3rd period - Ehrhoff, SJ (unsucessful penalty shot), 11:11. 1, SJ, Michalek 13 (Bernier, Thornton), 16:55.
1st period - Roenick, SJ (slashing), 2:49; Mayers, STL (holding), 14:26; Team, STL (too many men), 16:38; Michalek, SJ (interference), 18:08.
2nd period - E. Johnson, STL (holding), 4:30; Boyes, STL (hooking), 13:06; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 15:46; McLaren, SJ (high sticking), 16:13.
3rd period - Ehrhoff, SJ (hooking), 9:03;
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 26 26
STL - Legace 18 17
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 2 6 18
STL 10 6 10 26
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 4
STL 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Manny Legace
Milan Michalek
Referees: Greg Kimmerly, Justin St Pierre. Linesmen: Ryan Galloway, Derek Nansen.

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