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Boucher's debut a gem
Backup makes 24 saves in shutout
3/1/08 - by Mike Lee

After goaltender Brian Boucher had shoulder surgery last summer, he had a tough time finding any team that was interested in his services. He ended up playing for Philadelphia's AHL affiliate, then got a call from Sharks GM Doug Wilson a week ago. Boucher finally made it back to the NHL on Saturday night, as the Sharks wrapped up their season long 8-game road trip, and came up with a big 2-0 shutout win over the St Louis Blues at the Scott Trade Center.

Boucher instantly addresses one of the Sharks biggest question marks as the playoffs loom on the horizon. Having a legitimate number two goaltender, Sharks head coach Ron Wilson has the flexibility to give starter Evgeni Nabokov more rest in preparation for the second season.

With a backup goaltender in net, playing on back-to-back nights, at the tail end of a lengthy trip, it would have been easy for the Sharks to pack it in. Playing St Louis may have provided some motivation.

The two teams mixed it up on January 24th in San Jose when Keith Tkachuk took liberties with Sharks rookie Torrey Mitchell, attempting to go after him at the end of the Sharks 4-1 win. The Sharks added Jody Shelley to the roster 5 days later, and Shelley let it be known that San Jose wouldn't put up with any of Tkachuk's shenanigans.

Shelley and Blues forward Dwayne King dropped the gloves 14 minutes into the contest after King slashed Christian Ehrhoff.

Tkachuk would take an important slashing penalty at 15:36 of the opening period, because it was followed by a delay of game penalty to Eric Brewer 6 second later. The Sharks would enjoy almost two full minutes of 5-on-3 power play time, and they would capitalize.

Joe Pavelski converted on the 2-man advantage with a one-timer from the left dot on a Brian Campbell feed. Jonathan Cheechoo helped screen Blues goaltender Manny Legace by parking himself on the left post.

Pavelski's goal was the 16th consecutive game in which they scored first, a new NHL record.

Newly signed goaltender Brian Boucher made his debut in net for the Sharks, and stopped all 11 shots he faced in the opening period. Boucher made a diving save on a Brewer shot in tight late in the period. The crossbar prevented a Paul Kariya backhand from finding the back of the net earlier in the period.

The Sharks had another brief 5-on-3 midway through the 2nd period, but they couldn't convert. A Joe Pavelski high sticking penalty negated the Jay McClement hooking penalty that gave the Sharks the 2-man advantage.

Mitchell had a chance to pay the Blues back with a short-handed breakaway late in the period after Pavelski was sent off for hooking, but Legace managed to stay with a backhand move setup a scoring chance.

A Patrick Marleau high sticking penalty with 9 seconds left in the period, carried over to the start of the 3rd. Brad Boyes, the Blues leading goal scorer this season, killed his team by letting a pass back to the point slip through his skates on the ensuing power play. Mike Grier beat Boyes to the puck, then rifled a shot that Legace couldn't handle. The puck caught Legace in the chest, then floated over his shoulder and into the goal.

Joe Thornton, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo had a golden chance to push to the lead to 3 goals with 9 minutes remaining with a 3-on-1 break, but the trio made one pass to many.

Michalek had a breakaway with 5 minutes remaining, but missed on a backhand chance that sailed wide of the right post.

A Torrey Mitchell hooking penalty gave the Blues there last shot at Cracking Boucher, so Blues head coach Andy Murray called a timeout, then pulled Legace with 3:15 left in regulation. San Jose killed the penalty, but Brian Campbell threw the puck out of play to draw a delay of game penalty with 14 seconds remaining.

It was still too little, too late for St Louis.

Game Notes:

Defenseman Douglas Murray came down with a case of the flu, and missed the game. Alexei Semanov took Murray's place in the lineup. Sandis Ozolinsh and Tomas Plihal were healthy scratches. Kyle McLaren missed his 4th consecutive game, as he continues to nurse his knee.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 1 2
STL 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 15 (Campbell, Thornton), 16:41, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Grier 8 (unassisted), 0:58, (sh).
1st period - Vlasic, SJ (hooking), 7:54; King, STL (hooking), 11:04; Shelley, SJ (fighting major), 14:30; King, STL (fighting major), 14:30; Tkachuk, STL (slashing), 15:36; Brewer, STL (delay of game - puck over glass), 15:42.
2nd period - Brewer, STL (holding), 5:09; McClement, STL (hooking), 6:41; Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 7:25; Pavelski, SJ (hooking), 13:42; Marleau, SJ (high sticking) 19:51.
3rd period - Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 16:35.
Shots Saves
SJ - Boucher 24 24
STL - Legace 34 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 13 9 34
STL 11 5 8 24
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 5
STL 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Brian Boucher
Mike Grier
Brian Campbell
Referees: Devorski, Leggo. Linesmen: Nowak, Racicot.

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