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Penalty kill comes up big in win
Nabokov stops 28 shots in 3-1 win
12/29/08 - By Mike Lee

The makeup of a good team comes to light in games following losses. The Sharks rebounded from a sub-par performance in St Louis on Saturday night with a much improved team performance in Dallas on Monday to take their third straight game from the Stars this season in a close 3-1 win at the American Airlines Center. Evgeni Nabokov made 28 big saves to pace the Sharks, who needed their goaltender to play big down the stretch.

Nabokov got off to a hot start by rejecting Jiri Lehtinen with a nifty pad save after the Stars forward jammed at a loose puck at the top of the Sharks crease in the first five minutes of the game. Nabokov would build on that, allowing only a fluke goal to earn his 20th win of the season.

Jonathan Cheechoo made the most of his move to the Sharks top line by opening the scoring at 15:10 of the 1st period. Cheechoo got his stick on a Dan Boyle shot from the right point, redirecting the puck past Stars goaltender Marty Turco. It marked the second consecutive game in which Cheechoo tallied a goal.

A Brad Lukowich interference penalty at 5:35 of the 2nd period was followed by a questionable hooking penalty to Marc-Edouard Vlasic a minute later, giving the Stars a 2-man advantage for 56 seconds. San Jose kept one of the hotter power play units at bay, killing off both penalties unscathed.

James Neal took a high sticking penalty later in the period, but the Sharks power play proved just as ineffective. The 2 minute advantage almost ended badly for San Jose when Neal left the box and took a breakaway chance in on net. Vlasic made a strong play to break up the chance by catching Neal and chipping the puck to safety.

The Sharks extended their lead to 2-0 at 3:55 of the 3rd period on a highlight reel goal from Milan Michalek. After taking a centering pass from Joe Pavelski in the slot, Michalek was tripped by Stars defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, but the Sharks winger was able to keep the puck in front of him as he slid on one knee from right to left. Michalek whipped a shot top shelf from his knees past a stunned Turco, and just like that San Jose had some breathing room.

Jonathan Cheechoo would take an interference penalty a minute later, but the Sharks killed their 4th straight penalty to preserve their cushion.

Rob Blake would give the Stars another power play chance after throwing the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The penalty kill once again came up big, this time courtesy of several Nabokov saves.

The Stars finally got on the board courtesy of Sharks defenseman Alexei Semenov, who was in the lineup after Christian Ehrhoff was scratched for his poor play in St Louis . Matt Niskanen threw a puck on goal from the right point, but Semenov inexplicably tried to glove the puck well over his head, but it deflected off his hand, redirecting past Nabokov.

The Sharks shot themselves in the foot when Boyle took a penalty for closing his hand on the puck with 4 minutes to play. Patrick Marleau almost turned that vinegar into wine on a breakaway chance that drew a penalty shot, but the Sharks captain failed to convert.

Semenov would atone for his gaff earlier in the period by blocking a shot by Mike Modano with just over a minute to play by laying out in the slot. Pavelski would follow that up with a block of his own, allowing the puck to kick out to center ice. Ryane Clowe would deposit the puck into an empty net to secure the win.

Game Notes:

Douglas Murray left the game in the 3rd period momentarily, but would return later.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 2 3
DAL 0 0 1 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Cheechoo 6 (Boyle, Thornton), 15:10.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, SJ, Michalek 8 (Pavelski, Clowe), 3:55. 3, DAL, Niskanen 3 (unassisted), 14:57. Marleau, SJ (unsuccessful penalty shot), 16:20, (sh). 4, SJ, Clowe 15 (Pavelski), 18:58, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Marleau, SJ (interference), 3:49; Hinote, STL (tripping), 6:15.
2nd period - Plihal, SJ (tripping), 8:47; Ribeiro, DAL (boarding), 11:11.
3rd period - Cheechoo, SJ (interference), 5:06; Blake, SJ (delay of game – puck over glass), 10:37; Boyle, SJ (closing hand on puck), 16:08.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 29 28
DAL - Turco 18 16
DAL - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 6 7 19
DAL 9 10 10 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
DAL 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Milan Michalek
Jonathan Cheechoo
Attendence
18,532
Officials
Referees: Lee, Pochmara. Linesmen: Champoux, Murphy.

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