Final

Series (Game 5 of 6)

San Jose leads 5-0

Game 1: Friday, December 26th
Kings0Final
Sharks5
Game 2: Saturday, December 27th
Sharks4Final
OT
Kings4
Game 3: Saturday, March 13th
Kings1Final
Sharks3
Game 4: Thursday, March 18th
Sharks5Final
Kings3
Game 5: Wednesday, March 31st
Sharks3Final
Kings0
Game 6: Sunday, April 4th
Kings3Final
OT
Sharks4

Sharks 3

(42-20-6, 102 pts)

Kings 0

(28-28-8, 80 pts)

10:30 PM ET, March 31, 2004

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California

1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 13
LA 0 0 00

E. Nabokov (Sharks - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: 1.000

A. Korolyuk (Sharks - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

D. Brown (Kings - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Nabokov nets ninth shutout of season

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A playoff berth, a division title and countless team records are not enough for the resurgent San Jose Sharks.

"You're always looking for something different to motivate yourselves," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said after a 3-0 victory Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Kings.

"We could finish second overall in the league," he said. "We certainly did not set out for this at the beginning of the year, but once you get yourself in a position, we went on the attack."

Alyn McCauley and Niko Dimitrakos scored 29 seconds apart in the second period, leading San Jose.

The Sharks clinched the Pacific Division earlier Wednesday when Dallas lost to Edmonton. San Jose will be the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs behind Detroit.

"We've surprised a lot of people and even ourselves a little bit," defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "Especially coming off last year and not making the playoffs by a fair bit. We thought we had a good team coming into training camp, but we exceeded expectations. Nobody thought we would be battling for first."

The Sharks finished 14th in the West last year, but they rebounded this season to establish a franchise record with 102 points and their highest playoff position.

San Jose, with two home games remaining, is two points behind Tampa Bay for the second-best record in the NHL.

A big reason for the Sharks' strong showing has been goaltending and defense. Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves to earn his 30th win and ninth shutout of the season.

"We've worked on things the last couple of weeks to keep our goals against down," McLaren said. "We are much better on the road."

The Kings have lost nine consecutive games (0-8-0-1), including five straight at home. They are one defeat short of tying the franchise record of 10 straight, set during the 1983-84 season.

"The bottom line when you are a kid and you dream of playing in the NHL, if somebody would say to you you're going to play the last three games with the L.A. Kings even though they are not in the playoffs, you would play all out," Kings forward Luc Robitaille said. "You would give everything that you have. I think that is where we have to be as a team."

After a scoreless first period, McCauley swiped in a rebound of Alex Korolyuk's shot at 10:10 of the second. Roman Cechmanek made an initial save of a breakaway shot by Dimitrakos 29 seconds later, but the puck fell into the net as Cechmanek lost his balance and began to topple over.

McCauley scored his 20th goal into an empty net with two minutes to play.

"It was far from an acceptable effort; we didn't do many of the things we are supposed to do," Kings forward Trent Klatt said. "We didn't win one-on-one battles; we just didn't do a lot of good things."

San Jose set the franchise record for road wins (19) while playing away from home for the final time in the regular season. The Sharks also have earned a team-best 46 road points.

Game notes


The Sharks already had eclipsed the franchise record for most points in a season, breaking the mark of 99 set two seasons ago. They won the division then, too. ... Eight players set career-best scoring marks for the Sharks this season. ... The Kings honored Robitaille before the game for passing John Bucyk to become the highest scoring left wing in NHL history. Robitaille notched his 1,370th point against Edmonton on March 22... The Kings do not expect forwards Derek Armstrong (damaged triceps) and Jozef Stumpel (shoulder) to play again this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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