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Posted on: 02-11-2010

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>>caption:  NABAKOV (in goal) STOPPED


    Evgeni Nabakov had a career-high
51-SV through 65-mins plus three more
in the shootout and Patreick Marleau
scored the only shootout session goal
as San Jose edged the Red Wings 3-2
Thursday night.
    The Sharks salvaged the final game
of the four game season series to avoid
a sweep by Detroit.
    The Wings fell to 4-8 in shootouts
this season including 1-1 vs S-Jose.
    The Red Wings have now lost a
season-high four in a row (two via
shootout) and have just one win in their last six outings (1-2-3). The one standings
point for going beyond regulation drew Detroit within one point of 8th place Calgary
for the final playoff spot in the West.
    The Sharks won the 11th of their last 12 road games and the NHL Western
Conference leaders tied Eastern Conference top team Washington with 89-pts
for the best record in the league.    
    Nabakov entered the game a career 7-17-0-2 against the Wings, the worst
winning percentage of any netminder vs Detroit since 1980. Nabby made 18, 14,
17 and 2 saves in the four periods while San Jose mustered only 26 shots at
Wings goaler Jimmy Howard.
    In his second game back from early season knee surgery, Johan Franzen of
Detroit got the game's first goal. Franzen (#2) took a cross-ice pass from fellow
Swede Henrik Zetterberg to wrister from the right circle over Nabakov's glove
for a power play goal at 12:13/1.
    Just 25-sec later the Sharks replied. Joe Thornton (#16) deflected the point
shot of new teammate Niclas Wallin (acquired Sunday in a trade with Carolina)
off the end boards, then got the bounce-back tip-in behind Howard at 12:38/1.
    A Detroit defensive lapse gave San Jose a 2-1 lead with just 9.7-sec left in
the 1st-Per. Four Red Wings flowed to the left side and back-checking Kris Draper
was in the middle as the Sharks cycled the puck. Draper left former Michigan
Wolverine Dwight Helminen alone and Detroit DEF Jonathan Ericsson was too late
shifting back to cover. Helminen (also acquired in Sunday's trade) scored his
first goal in his three NHL games this season on a wrist shot from between the
inside hash marks of the right circle off a pass from Torrey Mitchell.  
    Detroit's Jason Williams, the subject of trade rumors, forced the overtime and
shootout with the trying goal at 12:55/3. Williams scored a gorgeous goal by toe-
dragging around the San Jose defense to fire from a wide angle at the bottom of the
right circle. Williams (#4) beat Nabakov between Nabby's left shoulder and the right
post. Play actually continued for several seconds after Williams' shot and once a
stoppage happened video review confirmed Williams' drive entered and quickly
exited the net after hitting the back crossbar.
    Nobody scored in the shootout until Marleau ended it in the bottom of the third
round when he stickhandled, then went forehand over Howard's right pad.   


R-WINGS H-COACH MIKE BABCOCK:   "I liked how hard we played...We had better
balance...We haven't scored all year long...I think that's about to change [with the
injured players returning]...We had every opportunity to win the game tonight."

R-WINGS DEF/CAPT NICKLAS LIDSTROM:   "We've just gotta hang in there and work
hard on [shootout break-ins] in practice...We had some quality chances to get some
goals that we just didn't capitalize on...We weren't able to score any goals for [Howard]
of late."

R-WINGS GOALIE JIMMY HOWARD:   "You try and be patient and do everything
right [in the shootouts]...We just can't buy one [win] right now...There's nothing
wrong with the way we played tonight. They guys did a great job out in front of me."

SHARKS CEN PATRICK MARLEAU:   "Detroit always gives us a hard battle...Hopefully
something caught my eye [in the shootout], [Howard] went for the poke check and I
was able to get one in there...It wasn't as pretty as we wanted it to be, for sure, but
we'll take the win."


    The Olympic break roster freeze is 12noon Friday and Detroit GM Ken Holland
says a move will be made. There were 10 NHL scouts watching Thursday's game from
the press box at The Joe with Williams rumored to be on the move. Sidelined for a
year with post-concussion syndrome, DEF Andreas Lilja has been skating with AHL
Grand Rapids and will be ac tivated Friday if cleared by Detroit team doctors. If
Lilja is restored to active duty some salary cap space must be cleared and Williams'
pact would even things out.
    Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom and Drew Miller both returned from injury while
Niklas Kronwall (left knee) and Patrick Eaves (left ankle) remained sidelined.
Holmstrom drew the second assist on Williams' goal.    
    Hancock, UP native Helminen now has two career NHL goals in 26 games over
the past two seasons. Helminen had 15-G & 15-A in 54-GP for Carolina's AHL Albany
River Rats farm club prior to Sunday's trade.  
    FWD Joe Thornton has never missed a game in a Sharks uniform, playing his
356th consecutive regular season contest Thursday.
    Detroit enters the Olympic break after a Saturday night (already sold-out) home
game vs Ottawa.

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