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Nabokov is backbone for Sharks // "Contra Costa Times"
Goalie gets his third straight win as San Jose holds off Islanders
By Rick Hurd
SAN JOSE -- Evgeni Nabokov is getting a bit cranky again. All the questions about his sparkling performances. All the inquires about how he makes his job look so ridiculously easy.
Frankly, he'd rather not answer them.
"I really don't like it," he said Thursday after the Sharks' 3-2 win over the New York Islanders in front of 17,496 at the Compaq Center. "I just play. You guys are the judge."
Those words are music to the Sharks. For Nabokov tends to hush up only
when his performances are excellent, something they are starting to be
In doing so, he made early goals by Mike Ricci, Mike Rathje and Marco Sturm hold up. He also rendered the worst slump of his career officially a thing of the past. Nabokov allowed 11 goals in back-to-back games, had a 5.19 goals-against average over a five-game stretch and endured a seven-game winless streak, the longest of his two-year NHL career.
Now, he has won three straight. And he has stopped 69 of 71 shots in his past two outings.
No wonder he's cranky.
"It's already over with, but you guys want to talk about it," he said of his recent slump. "So that's what we talk about. But I'm not thinking about it. I've moved on. It's a long season."
Good points, all. That said, Nabokov's performance tends to be more scrutinized than most because his importance to the Sharks' success is almost intangible. That fact has come shooting toward the surface again Thursday.
Defenseman Shawn Heins sustained a broken jaw in the second period after engaging in a fight with Islanders forward Jim Cummins. Heins was playing only because defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson is sidelined for at least three more weeks with a broken right index finger.
In other words, a Sharks defense that already was looking like Ally McBeal is getting thinner by the day. Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said Heins will miss at least a month. It's likely Jeff Jillson will be recalled from Cleveland of the AHL to take his place.
Against New York, Heins' injury left the Sharks with only five defensemen. Third-period penalties on Mike Rathje and Bryan Marchment left them with only four during two crucial stretches.
But Nabokov remained steady as a rock. Dick Tarnstrom's slap shot from the left circle dot at 12 minutes, 27 seconds made it 3-2, but Nabokov kept the Islanders off the board the rest of the way despite being besieged by an array of shots.
"When he's playing like that, you don't notice but he makes a ton of big saves," Ricci said. "He makes the penalty kill better. He makes the defense better. He makes everything better. He's so good ... we almost take him for granted."
Easy to do, considering some of the work he did against the Islanders. He stopped Claude Lapointe on a breakaway, snared a point-blank wrister from the slot by Alexei Yashin and turned aside Brad Isbister from the edge of the crease.
And he did it seemingly with all the effort of someone stifling a yawn.
"He's an All-Star goalie," winger Niklas Sundstrom said. "He's been standing on his head for two years now."
And after a brief hiatus, he's doing it again.
Said Rathje: "He's getting back to normal."
Страничка Евгения Набокова на
сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
19 октября. Голкипер «Сан-Хосе» Евгений Набоков: Я
готов ехать в Турин // "Советский Спорт"
8 декабря. Евгений Набоков: "В хеппи-энд не верю,
лечу в Магнитогорск" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
25 ноября. Евгений Набоков: "Выбор был простым - Омск
или Магнитогорск" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
11 октября. Голкипер «Сан-Хосе» Евгений Набоков: Огромный
привет болельщикам России! // "Советский Спорт"
19 октября. Голкипер «Сан-Хосе» Евгений Набоков: Я готов ехать в Турин // "Советский Спорт"
8 декабря. Евгений Набоков: "В хеппи-энд не верю, лечу в Магнитогорск" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
25 ноября. Евгений Набоков: "Выбор был простым - Омск или Магнитогорск" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
11 октября. Голкипер «Сан-Хосе» Евгений Набоков: Огромный привет болельщикам России! // "Советский Спорт"