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8th in a row is a breeze
Nabokov bags 200th career win
3/7/08 - by Mike Lee

On the night the Chicago honored two Blackhaws legends, the Sharks made some history of their own by winning their 8th straight game 3-2. San Jose played relentless defense, stifling the host Blackhawks who held a special pre-game ceremony to pay homage to Bobby hull and Stan Mikita. Former Blackhawks Doug Wilson and Jeremy Roenick joined a sold out United Center crowd to celebrate the former face of the franchise.

Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau continued to wield hot hands, scoring for the Sharks who tied a franchise record for consecutive wins. The victory was also the 6th straight on the road, which also matches a team record.

The Blackhawks faitful were treated to an early lead, when Brent Seabrook converted on the power play just 3:35 into the game. Kyle McLaren was in the box for roughing, but the typically reliable Sharks penalty kill failed to clear the puck in tight, which allowed Patrick Sharp to push the puck across the slot to Seabrook, who buried his 9th goal of the season.

The lead would be short lived, as Cheechoo and Joe Thornton hooked up 17 seconds later to knot the game at 1-1. San Jose worked the faceoff down along the left wing boards, then Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry lost the puck in the left corner after Milan Michalek pinned him along the end boards. Thornton swooped in to grab the loose puck, then fed Cheechoo from behind the Chicago goal. Cheechoo cut through the slot, then banged home his 22nd goal of the season.

Thornton would setup the sharks 2nd goal of the opening period from the same location behind the Chicago goal at 12:45 of the opening period. Hendry tried covering the Sharks centerman , but Thornton left him spinning in his skates after changing directions while stick-handling near the end boards. Kyle McLaren pinched from the point and one-timed a Thornton feed past Blackhawks goaltender Patrick Lalime.

Chicago rookie phenom Jonathan Toews tied the game back up at 2-2 late in the period on a deflection in front of Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov. Duncan Keith fired a blast from the left point, and Toews got a stick on the shot for his 19th goal of the season.

San Jose decided to eliminate any opportunity for the Blackhawks to score on deflections or otherwise by reducing the number of shot Nabokov had to face the rest of the evening. Chicago would only put 6 shots on goal in the middle period, and a paltry 5 shots in the final stanza.

The Blackhawks decide to take the physical route in the 2nd period, but the Sharks team size had little trouble controlling the tempo of the period. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray finally got tired of Chicago's antics and went after James Wisniewski midway through the period. The two squared off in a spirited fight, that netted Murray 4 square shots to Wisniewski's head.

Marleau scored the game winner at 14:31 of the 2nd period on a wrist shot from 25 feet that beat Lalime to the stick side. Devin Setoguchi fed Marleau with a pass at the Blackhawks blueline, then the sharks captain skated around Seabrook on his way to the net. Lalime had a good look at Marleau, who fired the shot from near the left dot, but the puck slipped inside his blocker on the short side.

San Jose clamped down in the 3rd period, limiting Chicago to almost no scoring opportunities. Mike Grier almost pushed the sharks lead to 2 goals when he slipped past the Blackhawks defense with the puck, but put a shot squarely into Lalime's chest.

Chicago head coach Dennis Savard pulled Lalime with a minute to play in order to stack the offense. The move appeared to pay off when Dustin Byfuglien sent the puck toward the net and Rene Bourque appeared to deflect it in, but referee Greg Kimmerly immediately waved off the goal after Bourque was ruled to have punched the goal in with his glove. Replays clearly confirmed the call.

The victory was Nabokov's 38th win of the season and 200th of his career, both new team records.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 2 1 0 3
CHI 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, CHI, Seabrook 9 (Sharp, Ladd), 3:35, (pp). 2, SJ, Cheechoo 22 (Thornton), 3:52. 3, SJ, McLaren 3 (Thornton, Ehrhoff), 12:45. 4, CHI, Toews 19 (Keith, Kane), 18:09.
2nd period - 5, SJ, Marleau 14 (Setoguchi, Vlasic), 14:31.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - McLaren, SJ (roughing), 1:53; Williams, CHI (high sticking), 6:58; Rivet, SJ (interference), 13:10; Bench, SJ (too many men), 14:14.
2nd period - Seabrook, CHI (roughing), 5:54; Michalek, SJ (holding), 6:14; Murray, SJ (fighting major), 11:21; Wisniewski, CHI (fighting major), 11:21; Ehrhoff, SJ (holding), 16:42.
3rd period - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 19 17
CHI - Lalime 23 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 8 4 23
CHI 8 6 5 19
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
CHI 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Brent Seabrook
Jonathan Cheechoo
Attendence
21,908
Officials
Referees: Kimmerly, Kozari. Linesmen: Mach, Kovachik.

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