LOS ANGELES (TICKER) —The San Jose Sharks rode the hot hand to escape the basement.
Captain Owen Nolan extended his goal-scoring streak to four games and Evgeni Nabokov made 32 saves as the Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0, to move a point ahead of them in the Pacific Division.
With four goals in his previous three contests, Nolan snapped San Jose’s 1-for-25 power-play drought 2 1/2 minutes into the game with his 15th tally of the season. Nolan is one goal away from 200 as a Shark.
That was all Nabokov would need to secure his second shutout of the season and 16th of his career.
The 2001 Calder Trophy winner, Nabokov turned aside 12 shots in each of the final two periods and got help from the right goalpost on Mikko Eloranta’s blast from the slot with 10 minutes remaining.
“A couple of times in the second and third period, the Kings were shooting the puck from the blue line and going to the net,” Nabokov said. “They had a couple of good screens from that, but our defense cleared the rebound every time. That was the difference in the game.”
Defenseman Bryan Marchment and Matt Bradley also scored for the Sharks, who won for just the second time in the last seven meetings with the Kings and recorded just their second win in the last seven overall.
“Tonight, it was the San Jose Sharks that exerted their will in the first 10 minutes,” Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. “To me, the first 10 minutes were the deciding factor in the game. Naturally, we are disappointed that we didn’t respond better and I take full responsibility on that.”
Felix Potvin stopped 16 shots for Los Angeles, which fell to 4-13-0-1 in its last 18, a span that includes four shutout losses and just one regulation win.
With the victory, the Sharks moved within six points of a playoff berth in the Western Conference, something that is on every player’s mind.
“We want to make the playoffs, so we’ve got to start putting a string of wins together,” Bradley said. “It doesn’t matter who we play, we have got to win games.”
“I think our playoffs are right now,” San Jose center Vincent Damphousse said. “We still have 33 games to play and we feel we need to win at least seven or eight out of every 10 until the end of the season. We have got two in a row, but we haven’t won three in a row (all season).”
The puck bounced off Potvin and into the air before falling into the crease and bouncing into the net at 2:31 to give San Jose a 1-0 lead in the opener of a home-and-home series.
“We came out soft and San Jose outplayed us for 60 minutes,” Kings center Ian Laperriere said. “This time of year, if you give them two goals, it’s tough to come back. Right now, everybody is a little stiff on their stick, everybody is a little more nervous and it’s tough to get that many goals. I think it comes down to individual preparation.”
Goalless in over a year, Marchment unleashed a slap shot from the blue line that made its way through a crowd before reaching Potvin. The goaltender got his glove on the puck but was unable to prevent it from going in at 9:51, giving Marchment his first goal since January 21, 2002 - a span of 79 games.
“I think somebody from the Hockey Hall of Fame came down and wanted the stick, but Bryan wouldn’t give it up,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson joked. “He thought there were more goals in it, but I don’t know.”
Bradley capped the scoring in the second period with his first tally in 43 contests.
From the right point, the 24-year-old Ontario native ripped a slap shot that dipped on its way to the net, hit the right post and caromed into the left side of the net at 6:18 for his first goal since March 16, 2002.
“It’s been a pretty frustrating year for me so far, so it’s good to get one,” Bradley said. “I thought our line played pretty well tonight, so hopefully we could start contributing.”
“The fourth line did a great job,” Wilson said. “They managed to finish off what everybody was starting. We had all the lines on the same page tonight. We didn’t have a ton of chances, but we made the most of the ones we did get.”