The San Jose Sharks owe two points from a win on Saturday to one Evgeni Nabokov, who absolutely robbed the Nashville Predators of several huge chances throughout the latter half of the tilt to hold his teammates into a game that saw the Sharks playing catch-up through most of play. Three times, the Predators took the lead, and three times, San Jose answered back before finally taking the advantage courtesy of Dany Heatley's second power play goal of the night near the halfway mark of the final period.
J.P. Dumont started the scoring, netting the Preds first tally just 1:39 into the game only to see Brad Staubitz return the favor 73 seconds later, nicely sneaking one past Pekka Rinne to even it up. Dumont's second, a power play goal in the middle period, brought life to Nashville's skaters, until a twisted series of penalties killed any chance to gather momentum and Dany Heatley put one in on a 4-on-3 (I think? I did get a little scattered in all of that).Again, though, there was a great deal of sloppy play from the Sharks, despite the return of key defenseman Dan Boyle, playing again for the first time in a while (IIRC, he missed six); plenty of giveaways in the defensive zone that lead to those spectacular displays by the teal-clad netminder. I wouldn't say that San Jose was playing particularly poorly, but they were lacking in some of the finer executions that make the team's offense so dangerous. I did feel that a lot of the mistakes that they let occur were made up for by how hard they tried to work, to an extent. The third line, especially, was in fine form in their grit role tonight, even with Manny Malhotra not on the ice to bring his solid sort of play, known for helping that grind get done.
Tonight's meal of pork ribs, potato salad, chili, corn bread, and beer wasn't tied to the score in any meaningful way (well, one Sharks goal for each dish served; does that count?), but it was certainly delicious and whether you believe it had anything to do with it or not, it was a great meal to sit down to while cheering for the Sharks. Despite the fact that they spent so much time chasing the Predators on the scoreboard, there was never a point in this game that I felt the game was slipping away from San Jose. A solid effort helped carry this team forward, notching another win on their pre-Olympic road trip endeavor.
Next, the Sharks head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Monday at 4pm. I'll step aside for a moment to send well-wishings to Brian Burke and his family, friends, and everyone in the Toronto organization at the news of the death of Burke's son, Brendan, in an automobile accident during a snowstorm in Indiana. The entire NHL world feels the shockwave of this event; I'll reserve any pot-shots at the Toronto organization for the game.