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Nabokov gets back to winning
Special teams big in 3-2 win
1/22/08 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks snapped their 4-game losing streak with a slew of special teams goals, turning back the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night. Defensemen Sandis Ozolinsh and Christian Ehrhoff each scored goals on the power play and Joe Pavelski bagged a short-handed tally to lead San Jose. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 of 30 shots, including several of the circus variety to earn his 26th win of the season.

Brad Skille gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 4:49 into the game on a put back in front of the Sharks net after Nabokov gave up a big rebound. Brent Sopel bounced a shot off the Sharks netminder with a blast from the right point, that landed on Skille's stick in the slot. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic failed to get a body on Skille, who swept the rebound past a diving Nabokov.

Ozolinsh knotted the game at 1-1 at 13:39 on a sweet backhand shot while Tuomo Ruutu sat in the penalty box for high sticking Devin Setoguchi. Ozolinsh took a pass near the left dot from Craig Rivet, before side stepping Sopel as he headed toward the net. Rather than rushing the shot, the Sharks defenseman pick his spot than lifted the puck past Patrick Lalime.

Nabokov turned aside a sure goal early in the 2nd period, while Steve Bernier sat in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Patrick Kane had a wide open net, but Nabokov got his left leg pad over in time to deny the Chicago forward.

A Martin Havlat roughing penalty evened up the ice at 4-on-4, but Matt Carle was forced to hook Robert Lang on a breakaway chance, giving the Blackhawks a 4-on-3 advantage. Havlat missed on a nice chance in tight after Nabokov snuffed him on the ensuing 2-man advantage.

The Sharks would get themselves in penalty trouble moments later when Sandis Ozolinsh was sent off for interference, but Joe Pavelski put the penalty kill on the offensive. After a centering pass kicked outside the Sharks zone, Pavelski outskated Patrick Kane to the puck, then beat Lalime with a backhander on the break.

Rene Bourque would setup a Sharks power play later in the period after cross checking Rivet and the Sharks capitalized. Ehrhoff would score his 1st goal of the season on a blast from the point after Joe Thornton screened Lalime by parking himself in front of the Blackhawks crease. A frustrated Lalime would punch Thornton in the butt as the big centerman skated to celebrate the goal.

The Sharks dodged a bullet midway through the 3rd period, when a redirect by Havlat rang off the right post.

Adam Burish would cut the Sharks lead to 3-2 on a defensive breakdown in the offensive zone. Jacob Dowell fed the puck up the boards as a Sharks power play expired, then split two Shark defenders at the San Jose blueline before beating Nabokov on the partial breakaway. The goal was the 1st in Burish's career, as was the assist for Dowell.

With the ice tilting in Chicago's favor, the Sharks went on the offensive, pressing in the Blackhawks zone. Patrick Marleau leveled Seabrook with an open-ice hit that sent the Chicago defenseman spiraling in mid air. San Jose turned a fortuitous bounce into a 2-on-1 rush that resulted in a power play with 2:20 remaining in regulation.

The penalty killed any chance of Chicago coming back, forcing them to burn clock while on the penalty-kill.

Game Notes:

The victory extended the Sharks winning streak to 9 games over the Blackhawks. Tomas Plihal wasted no time getting back into the Sharks lineup after being recalled from Worcester on Monday, skating on 16 shifts. Plihal was called up after Curtis Brown was placed on the injured reserve. Joe Thornton had an assist, giving him 11 points in his last seven games

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1 2 3 T
CHI 1 0 1 2
SJ 1 2 0 3
1st period - 1, CHI, Skille 3 (Sopel), 4:49. 2, SJ, Ozolinsh 3 (Rivet, Thornton), 13:39, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Pavelski 10 (Ehrhoff), 13:14, (sh). 4, SJ, Ehrhoff 1 (Carle, Marleau), 15:58, (pp).
3rd period - 5, CHI, Burish 1 ( Dowell), 11:18.
1st period - Seabrook, CHI (roughing), 10:26; Bernier, SJ (roughing), 10:26; Ruutu, CHI (high sticking), 13:10; Hendry, CHI (delay of game - puck over glass), 18:14.
2nd period - Ozolinsh, SJ (holding the stick), 2:08; Keith, CHI (holding), 3:42; Bernier, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:37; Havlat, CHI (roughing), 8:04; Carle, SJ (hooking), 8:50; Ozolinsh, SJ (interference), 11:57; Bourque, CHI (cross checking), 14:11; Lang, CHI (high sticking), 19:13.
3rd period - Rivet, SJ (hooking), 7:34; Keith, CHI (roughing ), 9:15; Keith, CHI (roughing ), 9:15; Pavelski, SJ (roughing), 9:15;
Shots Saves
CHI - Lalime 23 20
SJ - Nabokov 30 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CHI 10 12 8 30
SJ 8 8 7 23
Power Play Conversion
CHI 0 of 5
SJ 2 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Christian Ehrhoff
Joe Pavelski
Referees: Gord Dwyer, Don Koharski. Linesmen: Thor Nelson, Tim Nowak.

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