Raitis Ivanans came up an assist short of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. You can read about the rest in the following AP game story. The Kings can clinch a tie for last place in the NHL if Tampa beats Carolina tomorrow…
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Evgeni Nabokov made 16 saves in his NHL-best 46th victory, and the San Jose Sharks closed out their home schedule with their 18th win in 20 games, 5-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Milan Michalek scored the go-ahead goal in the second period for the Pacific Division champions, who have earned a point in every game since March 20. Mike Grier, captain Patrick Marleau, Curtis Brown and Brian Campbell also scored as the Sharks earned their 108th point, surpassing last season’s franchise record of 107 with two games to play.
Nabokov guaranteed he’ll lead the league in victories this season, moving four wins ahead of New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur. He’s also still in the running to match Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 victories last season, though coach Ron Wilson hasn’t said who will play in the Sharks’ last two games.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Raitis Ivanans scored for the Kings as the clubs began a home-and-home series between the NHL’s worst team and its second-best. Erik Ersberg stopped 29 shots for Los Angeles, which won its first three games at the Shark Tank this season – all back in November.
Nabokov, who has played in 75 of the Sharks’ 80 games, is fourth in NHL history behind Brodeur’s 48 victories and the 47 wins compiled by Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent (1973-74) – who did it before shootouts – and Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo (2006-07).
Even in a one-sided win, the Sharks rested up for the playoffs by playing without forward Jonathan Cheechoo, defenseman Craig Rivet and rookie forward Devin Setoguchi, who all sat out to rest minor injuries. Wilson kept his players’ minutes fairly even, giving bigger rests than normal to Thornton and Campbell, among others.
San Jose dominated puck possession in the first period, but didn’t score until Grier put a difficult rebound shot past two defenders and Ersberg with 10.6 seconds to play. Grier, a superb defensive forward who runs the NHL’s third-best penalty-killing unit, hadn’t scored a goal since March 1.
O’Sullivan tied it with a short-handed breakaway goal early in the second, but Marleau put the Sharks back ahead 66 seconds later with his 18th goal. Ivanans, the Los Angeles enforcer who fought Jody Shelley in the first period, tied it again when Alexander Frolov’s pass caught the San Jose defense napping.
Michalek then snapped an eight-game goal-scoring drought on a pass from Joe Thornton, who picked up his NHL-leading 66th assist. Brown and Campbell added late goals, with Campbell scoring during a two-man advantage with 1:01 to play.
Notes: Los Angeles LW Kyle Calder missed his fifth straight game with a finger injury, and D Jack Johnson missed his sixth with foot injury. … The clubs finish the season series Thursday night in Los Angeles, where the Sharks will try to finish a four-game sweep at Staples Center. … Thornton’s assist was his 300th point with the Sharks. He has 70 goals and 230 assists in just 220 games with San Jose.