SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Vesa Toskala will cherish the puck from
his first NHL victory -- as soon as he finds it, that is.
Toskala, a surprise starter as the Sharks attempted to shake off
two listless season-opening losses, made one last big save while
San Jose fought off Edmonton's final rush. His teammates grabbed
the puck for him, and he put it in his locker.
"I got the last puck -- but it's not here any more,'' Toskala
said as he rummaged through his belongings. "Somebody stole it, I
Actually, a team equipment man was sprucing it up to be a proper
memento for Toskala, who's making the most of his callup while
Evgeni Nabokov sits out in a contract dispute.
"I felt really good on the ice today,'' said Toskala, who
played 10 NHL minutes last season and just 20 in San Jose's first
two games this season. "I feel more comfortable if they shoot more
than the average. It's not a bad thing.''
Toskala spent most of last season with the Sharks' AHL affiliate
in Cleveland, and he was expected to be there again this fall. But
after the Sharks gave up 11 goals in their first two games in front
of Miikka Kiprusoff, coach Darryl Sutter made the switch -- and the
Sharks played grittier defense for Toskala while scoring enough
goals to hold off the Oilers.
"He was quiet in the net, which means you're in control,''
Sutter said. "That's what you want: consistent, high-level play.''
Marco Sturm scored a four-on-four goal and had an assist for the
Sharks, who still haven't signed defenseman Brad Stuart, either.
Both holdouts are vital parts of San Jose's deep roster.
Tommy Salo made 27 saves, but the Oilers -- who played from
behind for most of the night -- have scored just eight goals in
their four games this season.
"We played behind the whole game,'' Niinimaa said. "We chased
them all night. We need to have one game where we get the lead. We
need to get our offense going.''
Damphousse became the 71st player to score 400 goals when he
tapped a rebound past Salo just 66 seconds in. With 1,107 career
points, Damphousse is 44th in NHL history.
"It's a nice milestone,'' Damphousse said. "I've had to be
durable and avoid injuries. I don't want to stop now. I still think
I have a lot of years left. It's fun for me to play right now.''
Nolan scored his first goal of the season after Niinimaa fell
down and Adam Graves forced a turnover during a power play for
Edmonton. Nolan got a trailing pass from Graves and beat Salo low.
"That shorthanded goal was the difference,'' Oilers coach Craig
MacTavish said. "It cost us a point. That play was a bad one for
Janne. It just put us in a terrible position. When you leave a
defender and give them a break on a power play, bad things will
After Selanne ripped a hard shot past Salo midway through the
third period, Comrie cut San Jose's lead to a goal with less than
four minutes left, but the Oilers couldn't score with Salo pulled
for an extra attacker.
Sharks GM Dean Lombardi submitted new contract proposals to
representatives for Nabokov and Stuart earlier this week. No
progress has been reported, however. ... Damphousse has scored 60
of his 400 goals for San Jose. He also played with Toronto,
Edmonton and Montreal. ... The Western Conference rivals don't meet
again until Jan. 6. San Jose doesn't visit Edmonton until March 4.