SAN JOSE, Calif. – Evgeni Nabokov made sure the Sharks left San Jose with something to show for all those shots in their first two playoff games.
Nabokov made 21 saves in his sixth career post-season shutout, and rookie Torrey Mitchell scored a power-play goal in the Sharks’ 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Joe Pavelski also scored an early goal for the second-seeded Sharks, who outshot the penalty-prone Flames by a huge margin – 43-21 this time – for the second time in 24 hours.
Calgary beat San Jose in Game 1 on Wednesday night 3-2 despite a 16-shot disadvantage and a home sellout crowd expecting big things from the NHL’s second-best regular season team.
Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 41 shots for the seventh-seeded Flames, who labored on the penalty-kill for nearly 10 minutes of the second period, in which San Jose outshot Calgary 27-3 – but didn’t score until Mitchell’s goal in the waning seconds of that power-play time.
Game 3 is in Calgary on Sunday. San Jose was the NHL’s best road team this season.
Nabokov, the all-star who led the NHL with 46 regular-season victories while appearing all but five of the Sharks’ 82 games, repeatedly used his cat-quick glove hand to dramatic effect.
Nabokov made his most uncanny save with 4:51 to play after a sharp Calgary pass left him out of position to stop former Sharks captain Owen Nolan’s shot on an open net. Nabokov somehow leaned across the crease and blindly gloved the puck, leaving Nolan chewing on his mouthpiece in disbelief.
San Jose again peppered Kiprusoff with a constant barrage of shots, using its big advantages in speed and skill to keep the Flames on the defensive – or forcing them to commit penalties, including six consecutive calls in the second period. But most of the Sharks’ shots went straight at the Calgary goalie, who really wasn’t tested as much as Nabokov despite San Jose’s 2-to-1 advantage in shots.
After a scoreless, tight-checking opening period featuring two stunning saves by Nabokov, the Sharks took their first lead of the series when Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot bounced off the boards behind the Calgary net and went to Pavelski, whose tricky shot slipped underneath Kiprusoff.
Calgary then took its long string of penalties, keeping San Jose on the power play for 9:52 in the second period, including two full minutes of fruitless 5-on-3 advantage. Mitchell finally scored with 9 seconds left in the final power play, slapping home a rebound on the Sharks’ 26th shot of the period.
San Jose then was hit with three straight penalties in about 10 minutes to open the third, but Nabokov and his penalty-killers stopped everything. Calgary took two more penalties in the final minutes to make Nabokov’s shutout a bit easier.
Notes: Sharks D Christian Ehrhoff missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. After rusty replacement Alexei Semenov struggled in Game 1, the Sharks went with Matt Carle, who fell all the way out of the lineup this season. Carle made an outstanding defensive play in the second period, diving to knock the puck away from Owen Nolan to stop a short-handed breakaway chance. … San Jose’s 27 shots in the second period were a team record for one playoff period. … Calgary D Dion Phaneuf turned 23 Thursday.