|Calgary Flames right wing Owen Nolan (11) is unable to score past San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov (20), of Kazakhstan, in the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Western Conference playoff series, Thursday, April 10, 2008, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)|
Now that they're on opposite sides of another playoff series, the goalies are still trying to top each other - and while Kiprusoff made the most saves in Game 2, Nabokov undoubtedly made the biggest.
|San Jose Sharks center Torrey Mitchell, right, is chased by Calgary Flames left wing Alex Tanguay in the second period of an NHL hockey Western Conference playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, April 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)|
Just ask Owen Nolan, their former teammate in San Jose, who's probably still wondering why he couldn't find the net on Nabokov's best save of them all in the San Jose Sharks' 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Nabokov made 21 saves in his sixth career postseason shutout, and rookie Torrey Mitchell scored a power-play goal to even their first-round series at a game apiece. Game 3 is in Calgary on Sunday.
Nabokov, who led the NHL with 46 regular-season victories, knew the stakes for San Jose after the Flames' 3-2 victory in Wednesday's opener. He responded with the type of performance that has led the Sharks to ship out Kiprusoff, Vesa Toskala, Johan Hedberg and other top goaltending prospects who simply couldn't beat out Nabby.
"We knew we couldn't lose going to Calgary," Nabokov said. "They were playing great hockey, and we just kept coming at them. It's a win, that's the most important thing. A shutout is icing on the cake. There's a lot of work ahead of us, a lot of fights ahead of us."
He made his most uncanny save with 4:51 to play after a sharp Calgary pass left him out of position to stop Nolan's shot on an open net. Nabokov somehow leaned across the crease and blindly gloved the puck, leaving the former Sharks captain chewing on his mouthpiece in disbelief.
"The last one was sort of lucky," Nabokov said. "I just tried to put my glove somewhere there, and hope he would hit me."
Joe Pavelski also scored for the second-seeded Sharks, who outshot the penalty-prone Flames by a huge margin - 43-21 this time - for the second time in 24 hours. Calgary won the opener despite a 16-shot disadvantage and a home sellout crowd expecting big things from the NHL's second-best regular season team.
Kiprusoff was nearly as good as Nabokov in the rematch, stopping 41 shots as the seventh-seeded Flames labored on the penalty-kill for 9:52 in the second period, in which San Jose outshot Calgary 27-3. San Jose again used its big advantages in speed and skill to keep the Flames on the defensive - or force them to commit penalties, including six consecutive calls in the second period.
"I was very upset about the officiating," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "I'll share those thoughts with the league and with the supervisor of the officials. I can't comment on how it affected my players. We had a good first period, and then there was a total imbalance in the second."
|Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (34), of Finland, blocks a shot by San Jose Sharks left wing Jody Shelley (45) in the first period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Western Conference playoff series, Thursday, April 10, 2008, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)|
Kiprusoff kept the Sharks at bay, even surviving two full minutes of 5-on-3 play, until Mitchell's rebound goal on their 26th shot of the period with just 9 seconds left in that huge chunk of power-play time.
"That was some second period," Kiprusoff said. "It was quite a scene in front of the net, with quite a few 5-on-3s. Our killers did a pretty good job of keeping us in the game, but it wasn't enough."
San Jose then was hit with three straight penalties in about 10 minutes to open the third, but Nabokov and his penalty-killers stopped everything. Calgary took two more penalties in the final minutes to make Nabokov's shutout a bit easier.
In addition to Nabokov's jaw-dropping stop on Nolan, he made two impressive saves in the first period, stopping Flames captain Jarome Iginla on a 2-on-1 break to keep Calgary off the board until Pavelski's goal on a long rebound early in the second period.
When they met in the 2004 Western Conference finals, Kiprusoff was the Flames' best player in their six-game victory. Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy in 2006, and Nabokov is a favorite this summer after the best season in franchise history.
"I'm sure Warren Strelow is upstairs with a big smile on his face," coach Ron Wilson said of the Sharks' longtime goaltending coach, who died last year after tutoring a long string of NHL netminders.
Notes: Sharks D Christian Ehrhoff missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. After rusty replacement Alexei Semenov struggled in Game 1, the Sharks went with Matt Carle, who fell all the way out of the lineup this season. Carle made an outstanding defensive play in the second period, diving to knock the puck away from Owen Nolan to stop a short-handed breakaway chance. ... San Jose's 27 shots in the second period were a team record for one playoff period. ... Calgary D Dion Phaneuf turned 23 Thursday.