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Nabokov helps Sharks exact some revenge
Netminder shines with 45 saves in win
12/22/09 - By Mike Lee -

The battle of Western Conference heavy weights San Jose and Chicago came down to each team’s goaltending on Tuesday night. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 45 shots for San Jose on tilted ice, and Chicago Blackhawks netminder Cristobal Huet allowed three goals on 14 shots in a 3-2 Sharks win at the United Center. Chicago dominated puck possession, but the Sharks picked their spots to avenge their worst loss of the season.

It was the Blackhawks that put a 7-spot on the Sharks back on November 25th at HP Pavilion in an embarrassing 7-2 rout. Chicago looked poised to repeat that by controlling the ice for most of the game. San Jose would only muster 3 shots on goal in the 2nd period and would be out-shot 21-7 in the final period, but they put the puck past huet when they needed to.

San Jose also had issues saying out of the box, less than 24 hours after giving the Dallas Stars five power plays, but just like Monday night, the penalty killing was superb. San Jose denied seven Chicago power play opportunities, including a Jed Ortmeyer holding infraction that came just 75 seconds into the contest.

The Sharks would kill the Ortmeyer penalty and Dany Healtey gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 3:18 into the game after Dan Boyle found the Sharks forward cutting past the Blackhawls blueline. Heatley gathered in the pass and snapped a shot over Cristobal Huet’s right shoulder.

The goal snapped Huet’s shutout streak at 144 minutes.

A hooking penalty to Ryane Clowe put the Blackhawks back on the power play at 12:08, and Chicago used it as an opportunity to put their puck control game on display. They held the puck in the Sharks zone for the first half of the penalty until a stoppage finally allowed a change.

Rookie defenseman Jason Demers would follow Clowe to the bow less than three minutes later with a ticky-tack tripping penalty in front of the San Jose net. It was the eighth consecutive penalty called on San Jose , dating back to Saturday night’s game against Anaheim .

That string would be broken with a hooking penalty to Troy Brouwer a minute later, nullifying Chicago ’s third power play of the game. San Jose would finally get their own chance with the man-advantage with 40 seconds left in the period, but Joe Thornton squandered that opportunity by taking a pointless interference penalty well away from the play 31 seconds later.

The Sharks were out-shot 14-5 in the period.

San Jose went right back on the penalty kill to start the 2nd period after Jamie McGinn tripped Huet as he skated past the Blackhawks crease. The Sharks dished out a little payback for the trifecta of short handed goals Chicago scored against the Sharks back on November 25th in San Jose .

Joe Pavelski stepped in front of a Kris Versteeg clearing pass at center ice, then raced into the Chicago zone before sliding a pass over to Thornton . The big centerman waited for Huet to make a move before lifting his 10th goal of the season over the Blackhawk goaltender’s left shoulder.

Patrick Marleau almost made it 3-0 five minutes later when he rifled a shot that clanked off the right post.

Marleau had a golden chance to convert again 2:30 into the 3rd period when he slipped pas the Blackhawks defense and stick-handled in tight. Unfortunately he was too tight, allowing Huet to poke check his scoring chance aside.

The Blackhawks would finally solve Evgeni Nabokov 4:10 into the period, when Dan Boyle turned the puck over deep in his own zone. Marion Hossa gathered it up and skated along the end boards from the left corner, before sliding a pass to Patrick Kane. Kane cut across the crease from left to right, putting a shot on net that Nabokov stopped, but the deflection bounced right back to the Blackhawks forward for the put back.

San Jose would answer immediately. Thornton won the faceoff at center ice and traded passes with Marleau, before sliding a pass to Demers who was cutting to the net down the slot. Demers snapped a 35-foot shot that beat Huet stick side, pushing the Sharks lead back to two goals.

Chicago would get a seventh power play chance when Thornton was whistled for cross checking with just under 7 minutes to play, but the penalty kill was Johnny on the spot once again. Offsetting roughing penalties at 17:06 made it 4-on-4, but Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville decided to pull Huet for the extra skater. That would pay dividends when Hossa converted with 1:51 remaining in regulation.

Huet would be pulled again after the ensuing faceoff, and would make things interesting by getting a pair of shots to the net late, but Nabokov withstood the barrage to seal the win.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
CHI 0 0 2 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Heatley 22 (Boyle), 3:18.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Thornton 10 (Pavelski), 5:09, (sh).
3rd period - 3, CHI, Kane 11 (Hossa), 4:10. 4, SJ, Demers 2 (Thornton, Marleau), 4:30. 5, CHI, Hossa 6 (Kane, Sharp), 18:09.
1st period - Ortmeyer, SJ (holding), 1:16; Clowe, SJ (hooking), 12:08; Demers, SJ (tripping), 14:57; Brouwer, CHI (hooking), 16:00; Bench, CHI (too many men), 19:20; Thornton, SJ (interference), 19:51.
2nd period - McGinn, SJ (tripping), 3:43; McLaren, SJ (fighting major), 3:43; Bickell, CHI (fighting major), 3:43; Sharp, CHI (roughing), 8:07; Huskins, SJ (hooking), 10:31; Byfuglien, CHI (goaltender interference), 17:00.
3rd period - Brouwer, CHI (high sticking), 5:38; Thornton , SJ (cross checking), 13:09; Blake, SJ (roughing), 17:06; Toews, CHI (roughing), 17:06.
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 47 45
CHI - Huet 14 11
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 4 3 7 14
CHI 15 11 21 47
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
CHI 0 of 7
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Patrick Kane
Joe Thornton
Referees: Kozari, Furlatt. Linesmen: McElman, Schachte.

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