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Nabokov steals one for SJ
Sharks hold off feisty Blue Jackets
12/4/08 - By Mike Lee

Tuesday night's high powered thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs started with a 1st period outburst. Thursday night was an about face, but the results were the same. San Jose battled a determined Columbus Blue Jackets team and clawed their way to a 3-2 win at HP Pavilion. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov kept his team in the game after facing 14 shots in the opening period, then made several key saves late to preserve the Sharks 9th straight win.

The Blue Jackets didn't play like the 10th place team in the Western Conference, out-battling the Sharks throughout most of the contest. The only saving grace for San Jose was a lopsided edge in faceoff wins and Nabokov.

"We have to start fresh tomorrow," said Joe Thornton. "We were asleep out there. We can't put that kind of effort out their on Saturday."

Columbus took control of the opening period from the get go, out-shooting San Jose 14-4. It was the first time in a whole Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was forced to exert himself in a period.

"We have to understand now every game is going to be tough," said Nabokov. "We have to recognize that and play our game and be ready in the 1st period."

The Blue Jackets were finally rewarded for their dominating play, albeit on a fluke. Rick Nash scored his 13th goal of the season on a shot that deflected off Shark defenseman Dan Boyle skate. Nabokov was well positioned to defend the play, but Boyle also partially screened the play. When it changed directions, the Sharks netminder had no chance to make a play.

"I didn't think we were as prepared as we needed to be," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "We were not there mentally and not there physically. And when that combination shows up, it's going to be an ugly period."

Jakub Voracek and Michael Peca took penalties 11 seconds apart, giving the Sharks a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, but San Jose failed to generate any movement. They'd also fail to convert, whiffing on a golden opportunity to tie the game.

Voracek would go right back into the penalty box for interference, but this time the Sharks would take advantage. Patrick Marleau would skate the puck in on net and momentarily lose control of it, but a fortuitous bounce allowed the Sharks captain to put a shot on net. San Jose would then benefit from Jan Hejda's stick, which deflected Marleau's backhand shot over goaltender Steve Mason's left shoulder.

Ryane Clowe just missed on a shot that trickled past Mason moments later. The Blue Jackets netminder was able to reach back and grab it right on the goal line as it slid toward the back of the net.

A delay of game penalty by Jason Chimera late in the period carried over into the 3rd frame. The Sharks power play would convert again, with Jeremy Roenick cleaning up on a big rebound. Marc-Edouard Vlasic would put a shot on Mason from the left point, bouncing it off the Blue Jackets netminder.

You've got to give them [Columbus] a lot of credit, " said Roenick. "They played one hell of a strong hockey game today. They were all over us in the 1st and if it weren't for our goaltender we would have been out of this early. We got a great performance by him and we were lucky enough to get the last goal."

Frederik Modin would tie the game at 2-2 at 3:45 of the period after beating Roenick out of the right corner, then skating away from the Sharks veteran. Modin headed for the net before whipping a shot between Rob Blake's skates and past Nabokov, putting the puck just inside the left post.

San Jose would jump out on top once again at 7:41 . Thornton punched home a deflection from in tight after Vlasic put a shot on goal from the high slot. The big Sharks centerman sat parked on the right post and batted the puck out of the air after Mason made the save on Vlasic's attempt.

Nabokov made a big save off a Chimera shot from the left side with 5 minutes to play. The Sharks goaltender was laying face down on the ice, and had to pin his right skate against the post, denying the Blue Jackets forward.

"We did not work the goalie," said Blue Jackts head coach Ken Hitchcock. "That's the bottom line. We had a chance to win the game, and we did not work the goalie. And we'll be back for more."

The Blue Jackets were forced to pull Mason in the last minute of play, then received a huge break when Vlasic threw the puck over the glass, drawing a delay of game penalty. Rick Nash had a wide open net on the ensuing power play, but put his shot wide of the net.

Game Notes:

Marleau's goal was his 250th tally and 76th on the power play, which pushed him past Owen Nolan for 1st in franchise history. Brad Lukowich suffered a lower body injury and did not return after the 2nd intermission. The Sharks win streak is the longest in the NHL this season.

Joe Thornton set a franchise record for most consecutive games played with his 248th consecutive contest, passing former Shark Vincent Damphousse on the all-time list. Thornton has never missed a game in his three years as a member of the Sharks.

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Scoring
1 2 3 T
CBJ 1 0 1 2
SJ 0 1 2 3
1st period - 1, CBJ, Nash 13 (Hejda, Huselius), 16:38.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Marleau 12 (Boyle, Vlasic), 14:57 , (pp).
3rd period - 3, SJ, Roenick 2 (Vlasic, Thornton), 0:44, (pp). 4, CBJ, Modin (Boll, Brassard), 3:45. 5, SJ, Thornton 8 (Vlasic, Setoguchi), 7:41.
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Chimera, CBJ (holding), 2:12 ; Blake, SJ (tripping), 4:02 ; Voracek, CBJ (holding the stick), 8:16 ; Peca, CBJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 8:37 ; Voracek, CBJ (interference), 12:59 ; Chimera, CBJ (delay of game), 19:51.
3rd period - Brassard, CBJ (hooking), 15:29 ; Vlasic, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 19:22.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
CBJ - Mason 22 19
SJ - Nabokov 31 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CBJ 14 8 9 31
SJ 4 9 9 22
Power Play Conversion
CBJ 0 of 2
SJ 2 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Rick Nash
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Hasenfratz, Lee. Linesmen: Sharrers, Wheler.

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