Final

Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Friday, December 14th
Sharks3Final
Avalanche0
Game 2: Tuesday, January 15th
Sharks1Final
OT
Avalanche0
Game 3: Saturday, January 19th
Avalanche3Final
Sharks1
Game 4: Thursday, March 28th
Avalanche3Final
Sharks2

Sharks 3

(16-7-3, 40 pts)

Avalanche 0

(18-13-0, 39 pts)

9:00 PM ET, December 14, 2001

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
SJ 2 1 03
COL 0 0 00

E. Nabokov (Sharks - G): Saves: 38, Save Pct.: 1.000

N. Sundstrom (Sharks - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

M. Ragnarsson (Sharks - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Nabokov nets club-best 11th shutout

DENVER (AP) -- Evgeni Nabokov set a franchise record for career shutouts. Beating the Colorado Avalanche, however, was a bigger thrill.

Nabokov, in only his second full NHL season, posted his 11th shutout to break the San Jose record he had shared with Steve Shields as the Sharks beat Colorado 3-0 on Friday night.

Evgeni Nabokov

AP

Evgeni Nabokov netted his fourth shutout of the season Friday night.

Nabokov, last season's Calder Trophy winner, had 38 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and his first career victory over Colorado after going 0-4-1.

Colorado's Patrick Roy had 13 stops.

"I had extra motivation," Nabokov said. "I had never won against these guys. So this was special. It was about time."

Nabokov insisted the team shutout mark was of secondary importance.

"I never pay attention to that," he said. "I know that people were talking about it. But for me the big thing is to go out and try to win every game."

Scott Thornton, Marco Sturm and Mike Ricci had goals for the Sharks, who extended their unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) and ended Colorado's unbeaten streak at 10 games.

San Jose increased its lead in the Pacific Division to five points over runner-up Dallas.

With the loss, Colorado fell back into third place in the Northwest Division. Edmonton has 42 points, Calgary 40 and Colorado 39.

"We haven't had much success against Colorado," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said. "We were bound and determined to get through this one."

San Jose had gone 0-4-3 against Colorado since last beating the Avs on Dec. 8, 1999.

Sutter said the first period was critical, when San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead despite being outshot 13-5.

"Colorado was flat and we took advantage of our opportunities," he said. "The shot differential was no indication. We spent a lot more time in their zone than they spent in ours."

Sutter called the Avalanche's failure to score on a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:43 of the second period "the turning point of the game. Our penalty killers did the job. You would expect Colorado to score in that situation."

Colorado coach Bob Hartley agreed.

"There's an unwritten law of hockey that if you don't score on a 5-on-3, it is going to be tough to win, and that's exactly what happened," Hartley said. "They capitalized on their chances, and our side couldn't buy a goal. Credit has to go to Nabokov, and their defensemen played well."

Thornton and Sturm had the first-period goals.

Bryan Marchment's shot from the right point was deflected by Thornton in front of the goal at 9:38.

Less than two minutes later, the Sharks scored on a 2-on-1. When Colorado defenseman Greg de Vries lost an edge, Teemu Selanne brought the puck down the right side and, at the last second, passed to Sturm to the left of the goal at 11:18.

Thornton nearly scored again moments later into an open net, hitting the post while Roy was out of position after clearing the puck.

Colorado defenseman Rob Blake limped to the dressing room early in the period after stopping Gary Suter's shot with his right knee, but returned to the ice five minutes later.

In the second period, the Avalanche went 0-for-6 on the power play, including the failed 5-on-3 opportunity. The Avs held a 17-6 edge in shots that period.

Nabokov had a key save off Blake, then stopped Milan Hejduk's rebound try.

San Jose's Patrick Marleau had a goal disallowed when it was ruled the net had been dislodged. Barely two minutes later, Ricci made it 3-0 with a short-handed goal from the left circle at 17:34 of the second.

In the third, Nabokov deflected Stephane Yelle's short-handed attempt.

Game notes
Roy was trying to extend his NHL record for victories to 498. ... Colorado was 8-0-2 in its previous 10 games. ... It was San Jose's fourth straight road win. ... It was Colorado's first loss at home since Oct. 31, when the Avs fell to St. Louis 1-0. ... San Jose had won only twice in its previous 13 games against Colorado.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES