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Nabokov is pelted as Blues subdue Sharks // Contra Costa Times
SAN JOSE -- Really, it's almost a shock. That's how unaccustomed the Sharks are to seeing this. They've watched Evgeni Nabokov do a lot of things in his 11/2 seasons as the Sharks' top goalie. But fishing puck after puck out of his own net? That's never been one of them.
Nabokov was the loser as the Sharks were routed 6-2 by the St. Louis
Blues at the Compaq Center on Tuesday. And he lost huge, just as he's been
doing in just about every one of his starts in recent days.
It's probably reached a new low. Nabokov has hit a bump unseen since he moved into the No. 1 spot early last season. He hasn't won in seven starts, the longest stretch of his NHL career. He's lost five of those and been pulled from two.
He wasn't pulled Tuesday. But that's about the only good thing that could be said.
"At some point, it's not in your best interest to pull the goalie," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said. "At some point, you've gotta let him work his way through it."
At the moment, Nabokov is having a mighty difficult time doing so.
He wasn't entirely to blame against the Blues. Dallas Drake scored twice as the result of bizarre bounces. Pavol Demitra scored after perfect tic-tac-toe passing on a 5-on-3 power play. And Sergei Varlamov was denied by Nabokov on a penalty shot.
But goals by Keith Tkachuk and Scott Young came on shots that Nabokov usually stops. And the final one, by Chris Pronger on a slap shot from beyond center ice, was awful.
Add them up and it marked only the third time in Nabokov's 112 career games that he allowed at least six goals. Take the math further, however, and Nabokov has reason to be concerned.
He has allowed at least three goals in each of his past four starts, during which he has a saves percentage of .762. He was pulled from two of those starts for ineffective play and allowed 18 goals. He has allowed 22 goals and has a 3.60 goals-against average during his 0-5-1 (with one no-decision) stretch.
"Technically and physically, I feel all right," he said. "I've had some bad bounces, and bad luck, but ... there's no excuses."
Nabokov has not had the best luck during this difficult time. He allowed three goals on Dec. 28 against the New York Rangers, all of which came on deflections. He surrendered three more before being pulled in a Sharks win against Phoenix, with two coming on weird bounces.
Against St. Louis, Drake scored when his first-period deflection of Pronger's wrister took a wicked hop. Later in the period, he was credited with a goal when Sharks winger Owen Nolan accidentally threw a rebound of Drake's shot into the net.
Nabokov also wasn't helped by a defense that left the slot open and
struggled all night to clear the puck.
"We can talk about bad hops or bad breaks, but the bottom line is that I'm not making the stops," he said. "I've gotta stop the shots."
And, Sutter said, he has to start doing it soon.
"It's important that he re-establish himself and almost reaffirm to himself that he's the No. 1 goalie," he said. "If he's constantly questioning that part of it, then it's going to be tough for him to get his game back where it needs to be."
"The bottom line is that I have to start playing better," he said. "Times
like these make you stronger, and that's what I hope happens to me."
Страничка Евгения Набокова на
сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
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