SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Evgeni Nabokov earned his second consecutive shutout with loads of help from his teammates.
The Sharks scored twice in the first 13 minutes and Nabokov needed just 20 saves as San Jose won their fourth straight home game, 5-0 over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
All-Star Patrick Marleau was one of five players to score, along with Alyn McCauley, Scott Hannan, Alexander Korolyuk and Marco Sturm. The Pacific Division-leading Sharks beat Phoenix for the third time (with one tie) in five meetings.
“We were skating very good and everything was going right,” said Nabokov, who tied his single-season franchise record with his seventh shutout. He has 24 in his career.
“It’s nice to have two wins in a row at home, and both were solid games with a good performance by everyone.”
Nabokov has three shutouts in his last four home games.
“Nabby has been playing really good,” said the Sharks’ Nils Ekman, who had a career-high three assists. “I see him play every day, so he doesn’t surprise me any more. He’s been at the top of his game all the time and that’s impressive. He’s going to be a key for us all season.”
While the Sharks go into the break with 68 points and are 13 games above .500, the Coyotes are in a tailspin, with trade rumors and talk of coach Bob Francis losing his job.
“We have some issues to handle both on and off the ice,” said Francis. “I know the nature of the business and that’s the last thing on my mind.”
Coyotes goalkeeper Brian Boucher, tied for second in save percentage entering the game, lost his second game in as many nights. He gave up two goals in the final two minutes of Wednesday night’s home game against Florida, and then allowed the winner in overtime.
“I didn’t think we could get this low, but we are,” said Phoenix left wing Tyson Nash. “It’s been a roller coaster and the last two nights have been really tough. It’s a weird feeling. …”
The Sharks, who struggled in the first period against Florida on Tuesday, wasted little time establishing control against Phoenix. McCauley’s power-play goal came with 12:45 left in the first period after he took a pass from Korolyuk, who was behind the net.
San Jose went up 2-0 just when Hannan slipped the puck past Boucher after taking a pass from Wayne Primeau. The Sharks have now outscored their opponents 53-17 in the first period. Phoenix was limited to five first-period shots.
Hannan broke a six-game pointless streak with the goal.
“Primeau made a great play behind the net to keep the puck under control and then he made a great pass,” said Hannan. “I just redirected toward the goal.
“We’ve accomplished a lot so far, but we have a tough road trip coming out of the break.”
Korolyuk padded the Sharks’ lead in the second period when he punched in a rebound that Boucher couldn’t control off the stick of Tom Preissing.
Sturm’s goal made it 4-0. Sturm, who has scored in two straight games after not doing so in his previous 10, had an open net when Vincent Damphousse made a nice crossing pass.
Marleau scored a power-play goal less than two minutes into the third period. Sturm’s shot bounced off Boucher and Marleau was there for the tip-in.The Sharks had just two power-play goals in their previous 11 games.
Phoenix RW Landon Wilson injured his eye in the second period and did not return. He was to be re-evaluated on Friday. … Marleau has four goals and four assists in his last five games. … Nabokov is 9-6-2 lifetime against the Coyotes. … Phoenix accumulated 52 penalty minutes on 15 penalties, including a fighting major, a misconduct, and a game misconduct. … The Coyotes had apoint in 14 of their previous 16 road games.