The San Jose Sharks won their eighth-consecutive road game, setting a new franchise record in their 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Friday. After two periods of scoreless play, Milan Michalek notched the game winner at 16:55 of the third period, his 13th goal of the season and third in the last two games.
Click here for pictures (PICS) from Friday's game against the Blues.
San Jose Sharks' goaltender Evgeni Nabokov makes a save as St. Louis Blues' Keith Tkachuk slides into the net in the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 28, 2007 in St. Louis. Nabokov stopped all 26 shots that he faced to help the Sharks beat the Blues 1-0. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Evgeni Nabokov continued his hot streak, earning his 37th straight start in goal and making 26 saves in the victory. The 32-year-old Kazakhstan native is currently the only NHL goaltender to start every game for his team.
After a groin strain put him on the Injured Reserve for seven games, Jonathan Cheechoo made the starting lineup alongside Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek. Last season, Cheechoo had 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 14 games against St. Louis.
The first period was a battle of the goaltenders. Blues netminder Emmanuel Legace and Nabokov faced ten shots each, while St. Louis produced six scoring chances to San Jose’s three. Although neither team was particularly excelling in their offensive zone, Nabokov earned his paycheck with a kick-save on Jay McClement and multiple last-minute desperation stops on the Blue’s period-ending power play.
Offensively, both teams had scoring opportunities with two power plays a piece. St. Louis earned the man advantage early in the game when Jeremy Roenick was called for slashing at 2:49. The Sharks killed the penalty and were later awarded their own power play at 14:26 from a holding call to Jamal Mayers.
After failing to find the back of the net, the Sharks were given the man advantage again when the Blues were called for too-many men at 16:38. However, the power play was negated when Milan Michalek was called for interference at 18:08.
The second period had a much slower start than the first. Ten minutes into the second stanza, the Sharks had accumulated two shots on goal while the Blues only had one.
San Jose nearly broke the scoreless tie on their second power play of the period. After settling in the offensive zone, Jeremy Roenick brought the puck around the back of the net before making a pass across the crease to Thornton. With Legace out of position, Thornton took the quick shot, but it sailed over the top of the open net.
Cheechoo had a scare in the second period when he was skating out of the Blues zone and took a stick to the face courtesy of Erik Johnson. Cheechoo fell to the ice, but there was no penalty on the play.
St. Louis Blues' Jamal Mayers keeps San Jose Sharks' Craig Rivet, left, away from the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 28, 2007 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
The Sharks were put on their heels late in the second period when they had to kill off 1:33 of a five-on-three power play after receiving penalties to Torrey Mitchell for hooking at 15:46 and Kyle McLaren for high sticking at 16:13. Nabokov made the save of the game after the Blues sent a pass through the crease and the Sharks netminder was forced to do the splits to block a wide open shot by Martin Rucinsky.
After killing the penalty and finishing off the period, the Sharks were still in a scoreless tie with St. Louis.
Christian Ehrhoff had an eventful third period. After being called for hooking Keith Tkachuk on a breakaway to the net, Ehrhoff had a breakaway of his own when he jumped out of the penalty box two minutes later. After making a move to his backhand, Ehrhoff was pulled down and awarded a penalty shot.
Fitting for his effort, Ehrhoff was chosen to take the first penalty shot of his career. The defender went towards the goal with speed, but after making a move, was stopped on the doorstep by Legace.
The Sharks would finally break the scoreless tie when Michalek scored his 13th goal of the season. After Legace had made the initial save on a Steve Bernier shot, a huge rebound was sent between the circles right as Michalek was skating into position. The Czech winger fired the shot home and gave the Sharks the 1-0 lead with a little over three minutes remaining.
The Blues pulled their goalie with 1:10 to go, but failed to generate a set offense in the Sharks zone and San Jose hung on to win 1-0.
SETOGUCHI TO WORCESTER
San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced on Friday that the club has reassigned forward Devin Setoguchi to the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Setoguchi was recalled from Worcester on October 28 and made his NHL debut the next day at Dallas, scoring two goals, including the game-winner. The rookie winger was a major contributor during the early portion of his call up, registering seven goals and one helper in his first nine games. However, Setoguchi’s production fell off at that point as he registered just two points in the next 15 contests.
The Sharks will continue their four-game road trip in Nashville when they take on the Predators Saturday, December 29 at 5:00 PM (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on FSN, 98.5 KFOX FM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
From the AP Wire
ST. LOUIS (AP) -Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves to earn his fifth shutout and league-leading 20th win to help the San Jose Sharks extend their club-record road winning streak to eight games with a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
The Sharks also set a team record by earning a point in their 11th straight road game (10-0-1). San Jose, which got a goal from Milan Michalek late in the third period, has outscored its opponents 32-16 over the stretch.
Nabokov now has 39 career shutouts, fourth among active goaltenders.
The Blues, who were blanked at home for the second straight game, have lost six of seven at the Scottrade Center. Blues goalie Manny Legace stopped 17 shots.
It appeared that the Blues would get at least a point, as the game was scoreless with less than 4 minutes left in regulation. But Michalek took advantage of a clearing pass that bounced off a skate behind the net and went straight to the slot. He beat Legace with a one-timer from the between the circles with 3:55 left.
The teams combined for 28 shots in the first two periods. St. Louis had a two-man advantage for 1:33 late in the second period. But a wide-open Martin Rucinsky fanned on a centering pass from just outside the crease.
The Sharks' best scoring opportunity came at 11:11 of the third period when Christian Ehrhoff was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway attempt by Eric Brewer. Legace stuffed Ehrhoff's backhand effort to keep the game scoreless.