Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sharks manage to win, but Evgeni Nabokov's save percentage .733 tonight vs. Flyers

The San Jose Sharks should be glad they squeaked by with at least one point tonight in their game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the HP Pavilion.

They should be ecstatic - and they no doubt are - that they robbed Philadelphia of the full two points, winning in overtime 5-4.

The Sharks nearly tripled the Flyers' shot output 45 to 17, but struggled the entire game to catch up with their opponent on the scoreboard.

Flyers netminder Antero Niittymaki (who was starting in place of the struggling Martin Biron - can you say 6.32 goals against average?) was instrumental in keeping the Flyers afloat, stopping 40 shots, while his team only managed 7 or less shots per period on the other end of the ice.

Unfortunately for Team Teal, former Vezina finalist Evgeni Nabokov, in his second start in 24 hours after losing 4-0 to the Anaheim Ducks on the road, gave up at least one goal per period despite facing 7 or less shots, the first coming from Daniel Briere in the first (despite being initially credited, at least at HP, to Kimmo Timonen, who actually assisted).

In the second period, Nabby gave up 2 goals on just 4 shots. Despite defensive mistakes, Nabokov should have been able to handle what became the second Philly goal of the night - a fairly weak backhand from Braydon Coburn. I was stunned that it went in, really.

The third Flyers goal (which came after Christian Ehrhoff got the Sharks on the board with a slap shot) was from Jeff Carter - on a shorthanded, unassisted breakaway. UGH. Not entirely Nabby's fault, by any means (Marc-Edouard Vlasic was unable to prevent Carter from shooting, as well as Coburn for his goal - incidentally Pickles was a minus-3 tonight) - but let's just say that I was praying there were no Flyers penalty shots later in the game (or a shootout, point or no point), because Nabby was having difficulties this weekend with the one-on-one (Samuel Pahlsson's goal Friday night being a precursor to the present evening).

Jonathan Cheechoo's power play goal late in the second period seemed to breathe new life into the team, which carried over into the third period when Joe Pavelski finally evened the score 3-3 with his goal. Unfortunately, 5 1/2 minutes later Danny Briere got his second goal of the night, embarrassing Nabokov (and our blue line - this time Alexei Semenov) yet again on a breakaway.

Thank God Almighty for Devin Setoguchi, who evened it once again for the Sharks to make it 4-4. "Gooch" was set up nicely by Dan Boyle, and patiently baited Niittymaki into lunging forward before scooting it past him into the net.

Speaking of Boyle - it was his moment in O.T., as he scored the game-winning goal for San Jose just a minute 20 into sudden death. Not a bad way to earn your first goal of the season (and first with the San Jose Sharks).

The game featured numerous fighting incidents between the teams - Jody Shelley and Riley Cote had a heated brawl, while Rob Blake, Brad Staubitz and Steve Downie roughed each other up. Patrick Marleau (a Lady Byng candidate in recent years) got quite physical with rookie Luca Sbisa, crushing him in one fine moment. Sorry your 800th career game wasn't a win, Captain - but glad your 801st was!

Going back to Nabokov - he was a .800 on Friday night, and a .733 tonight. His save percentage is .767 for the weekend.


The Sharks play the Flyers on Wednesday in the City of Brotherly World Series Games, followed by back-to-back games against Florida's two teams - the Panthers (Friday) and Lightning (Saturday). I will be reporting (when possible) from the Sunshine State next weekend.

GO SHARKS.... you too, Nabby.