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Nabokov stops 24 shots

12/22/2003

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks are becoming quite adept at winning low-scoring games. Having Evgeni Nabokov in net doesn't hurt.

Nabokov outdueled playoff MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 24
saves and Niko Dimitrakos set up goals by Patrick Marleau and
Vincent Damphousse as the Sharks beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 2-1 on Sunday night.

Despite getting at least one power-play goal in each of their
last five games, the Sharks have not scored more than twice in any
of their last 11 games -- the longest such stretch in franchise
history. They are 5-4-2 during that span.

"It's just freaky," coach Ron Wilson said. "We can't seem to
score the third goal, but we have a ton a chances to do it. We just
seem to be a little snake-bit. But we're comfortable in those
situations, it seems. That's what we expect and that's what we
prepare for -- a 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 type of game.

"It's not just the goalies who feel the heat, trust me. It's
the whole bench. But after a while, you kind of get used to it. And
even though we have only two goals, we have the lead -- so there's
nothing wrong with that."

Marleau opened the scoring at 11:40 of the first period with his
13th goal and fifth in seven games. He got a pass in the right
circle from Dimitrakos and beat Giguere to the stick side with a
one-timer from 15 feet.

The Sharks received a two-man advantage less than four minutes
into the second period after Michael Holmqvist and Keith Carney
were sent off for high-sticking 29 seconds apart. Damphousse beat
Giguere with a 20-foot backhander from the left circle for his
third goal of the season, just as Holmqvist stepped out of the
penalty box.

"I wasn't aware there was one second left, but I knew it was
winding down and that somebody was coming back on the ice. I didn't
have the time to set up for a good opportunity from a good spot, so
I just took the shot," Damphousse said.

Dimitrakos also got an assist on the goal, giving the rookie
seven points in his last 14 games.

"Niko's been great, and he's just going to get better,"
Damphousse said. "When he came back from the minors, he improved
his play. As the game goes on he understands the score more, and
what kind of plays he can make at different times -- and he's making
great plays. He's a good skater, he makes good passes and he's got
a good quick shot."

Nabokov, who shut out the Ducks on Dec. 13 at San Jose, gave up
Anaheim's only goal just 11 seconds after Damphousse scored. He
stopped Niclas Havelid's shot from the left boards, but defenseman
Rob Davison couldn't clear the rebound and Petr Sykora jammed the
puck under Nabokov's left leg for his 11th of the season. Sykora
has scored in seven of his last nine games against San Jose.

"Nabokov's a great goaltender. But at the same time, I don't
think we got enough pucks to the net. And when we did, we were
letting him see it and there was nobody there for the rebounds,"
Anaheim forward Jason Krog said. "We weren't hungry enough. We
played good at times, but overall, I think the game was pretty much
average-to-below average for us."

Giguere, who made 38 saves in Thursday night's 1-0 victory
against Colorado, fell to 3-8-0 in 11 career games against San Jose
despite stopping 22 shots. He hasn't won consecutive starts since
Nov. 9-16, when he won three straight. But no one was blaming him
for this loss.

"They played really well defensively and Nabokov was there when
he needed to be," Anaheim defenseman Todd Simpson said. "But
we've just got to find a way to create more offense and score more
goals. Having the lead always helps, too."

Game notes
Anaheim's power play was 0-for-5 against the Sharks, who
have allowed only four goals in 58 short-handed situations over
their last 15 games. ... Wilson, who coached the Ducks during their
first four seasons, is 7-11 against them since then and 2-6 in
Anaheim. He gets another crack at them Monday night at San Jose,
when the teams face each other for the fourth time in 13 days. ...
Anaheim is one of three teams that have not allowed a short-handed
goal, along with Philadelphia and Nashville. ... Anaheim LW Vaclav
Prospal, playing in his 500th NHL game, got an assist on Sykora's
goal.