Nabokov’s 50th shutout sends Sharks into playoffs

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE
– A spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was guaranteed for the San
Jose Sharks Thursday night. After Calgary dropped a 3-2 decision to
the New York Islanders, San Jose collected a 3-0 win over the
visiting Dallas Stars to clinch an invitation to the
post-season.
SAN JOSE – A spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was guaranteed for the San Jose Sharks Thursday night. After Calgary dropped a 3-2 decision to the New York Islanders, San Jose collected a 3-0 win over the visiting Dallas Stars to clinch an invitation to the post-season.

Holder of 100 points, San Jose tops the Western Conference with eight games left in the regular season. The Sharks host Vancouver Saturday at 7pm, then Colorado at 5pm Sunday.

The Sharks snapped a scoreless tie in the second period by converting their first two power play opportunities.

When Mark Fistric was whistled for holding Joe Thornton 3:20 into the second, San Jose needed nine seconds to claim a 1-0 lead.

Manny Malhotra earned his 19th assist of the season when he slid a pass to defenseman Dan Boyle at the top of the left Dallas circle. Boyle’s one-timer skimmed off the stick of Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas and inside the left post at 3:29.

The Stars’ Nicklas Grossman went to the penalty box at 4:49 for tripping Devin Setoguchi. The Sharks needed 84 seconds of power play time to make it 2-0.

Boyle, who did not earn as assist on the second goal, put the scoring play in motion when he accepted Patrick Marleau’s pass to the left point before dishing the puck to Thornton on the left boards. Thornton found Marleau open at the bottom of the circle, but Marleau’s shot was pushed aside by Turco. Rob Blake, established in front of the net, shoved the rebound behind Turco at 6:13.

Blake pulled into a tie for third place with Paul Coffey among career power play goals by a defenseman, 135. Only Raymond Bourque (173) and Allan MacInnis (166) are ahead of the Sharks captain.

Rookie Logan Couture, playing in his 17th NHL game, scored 7:41 into the third period for the Sharks.

Setoguchi sped around the right flank of the Dallas defense toward the net. As Robidas pushed at Setoguchi, the forward snapped a shot that left a short rebound. Couture, trailing the play, was able to slide the puck under the prone Turco for his second goal of the season.

Boyle, fifth among NHL defensemen this season, added an assist on Couture’s tally.

Evgeni Nabokov earned his 50th career shut-out, tying him with Detroit’s Chris Osgood in third place atop the active NHL shut-out leaders list.

NOTES: Jed Ortmeyer played in his 300th NHL game…Washington has an eight-point lead over the Sharks in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

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