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Nabby falls short in first start against old club
San Jose wins on back to back nights
3/14/14 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks re-acquainted themselves with old friend Evgeni Nabokov as the Sharks played their old goaltender for the first time since he was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 2009-2010 NHL season. San Jose played their second game in as many days, holding off the host New York Islanders 4-3 in a spirited affair that allowed the Sharks to keep pace with the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division lead.

*Nabokov played 10 seasons in San Jose, amassing a 283-178-66 record. Nabokov was on the shelf with an injury when the Islanders visited San Jose back in December. He was acknowledged by the SAP Center crowd with a rousing ovation. The Sharks were less accommodating in Long Island Friday night. They put 4 goals past him on only 26 shots.

* Nabokov's teammates were motivated to get a win for their goaltender, putting 38 shots on the Sharks current netminder, Antti Niemi, who stood tall against the young Islander offense.

* Rookie forward Matt Nieto introduced himself to Nabokov with a shot from the slot at 13:27 of the opening period that hit the Islanders goaltender in the right leg pad before bouncing up and into the New York goal. San Jose created the chance with some nice stick work along the end boards. Logan Couture trade passes with Patrick Marleau before kicking the puck out to the Nieto from behind the Islanders net.

* The passing clinic continued on the Sharks next shift when James Sheppard and Martin Havlat moved the puck through the area between the circles before finding Jason Demers on the right side for a wrist shot that lifted over Nabokov's right shoulder.

* The Sharks forgot how potent the Islanders young offense can be, allowing the Islanders to score just 32 seconds into the 2nd period. Anders Lee cut through the slot where Frans Nielsen hit him with a touch pass, then lifted a backhand shot that hit Niemi in the left shoulder. The puck floated over Niemi, landing in the crease and creeping toward the goal line. Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan tried reaching for the puck, but ended up pushing it over the goal line for Lee's 6th of the season.

* Joe Thornton made it a 3-1 game 9:32 into the 2nd period after Nabokov gave a fat rebound off a Brent Burns shot from the top of the right circle. Nabokov had squared himself to the Burns shot, but the rebound kicked out to the left where Thornton was cruising. The Sharks captain easily swept the puck into the wide open net as Nabokov tried diving to his right to get something in front of Thornton's shot.

* San Jose played the game without taking a penalty, but Niemi should have been given a delay of game penalty for playing the puck in the forbidden zone in the right corner. The Sharks netminder tried to glove the puck after shuffling it with his stick, but the puck was clearly outside the trapezoid past the end line.

* Brock Nelson cut the Sharks lead to 3-2 with just under 3 minutes left in the middle period. Matt Donovan threw the puck to the slot from the right point, where Nelson deflected it with his stick blade. Rather than sailing wide, the puck tucked itself just inside the left post for Nelson's 12th goal of the season.

* Martin Havlat pushed San Jose's lead back to a pair of goals with 1:45 before the 2nd intermission. James Sheppard fished the puck out of the left corner then setup his linemate with a pass to the bottom of the left circle. Havlat roofed a shot that seemed to surprise Nabokov for his 7th goal of the season.

* Nielsen made things interesting with a backhand shot that found the back of the net with 21.4 seconds left in regulation. Kyle Okposo picked up a loose puck in the Sharks zone before skating along the end boards from left to right. Okposo flipped a backhand pass out to the front of the goal before ducking past the left post. Nielsen gathered the pass and lifted his own backhander into the Sharks goal. Niemi was screened by Marc-Edouard Vlasic who was trying to move Islanders Casey Cizikas away from the goal mouth.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 2 0 4
NYI 0 2 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Nieto 10 (Couture, Marleau), 13:27. 2, SJ, Demers 4 (Havlat, Sheppard), 14:46.
2nd period - 3, NYI, Lee 6 (Nielsen, Okposo), 0:32. 4, SJ, Thornton 10 (Burns), 9:32. 5, NYI, Nelson 12 (Donovan, Bailey), 17:02. 6, SJ, Havlat 7 (Sheppard), 18:15.
3rd period - 7, NYI, Nielsen 21 (Okposo, Lee), 19:38.
1st period - None.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Donovan, NYI (tripping), 3:02.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 38 35
NYI - Islanders 26 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 7 7 26
NYI 11 11 16 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 1
NYI 0 of 0
3 Stars of the Game
Martin Havlat
James Sheppard
Anders Lee
Referees: Charron, Joanette. Linesmen: McElman, Nowak.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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