Sunday, May 16, 2010

Game-tieing goal changed Sharks momentum in Game 1 loss to Blackhawks

So much for that Motor City Mojo.

The Sharks, who looked like world beaters in beating the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals, are back in a familiar spot in the playoffs.

Having to prove themselves to the world. Again.

In baseball, momentum is the next’s day starting pitcher. In hockey, it’s the next goal. The Sharks had a 1-0 lead in the first game of their Western Conference finals series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday when they lost sight of their goal. Because Evgeni Nabokov lost sight of the puck.

With the Blackhawks wearing out a path to the penalty box, the Sharks had every opportunity with a one-man advantage to extend their one-goal lead, the Blackhawks bounced on their big chance. Patrick Sharp lined up a shot as Nabokov was leaning to his left in the goalmouth.
Sharp’s shot wound up going between Nabby’s legs. The five-hole goal completely changed the game’s momentum and Nabokov didn’t see it coming.

“I didn’t see the puck,” Nabby told me after the game. “I had no idea where it was coming from. When I did, it was too late.”

The Sharks lost a game in which they did not commit a penalty and did not allow Chicago star Jonathan Towes a single shot on goal and he leads the NHL in points scored this post season.

“We were disciplined. We were skating pretty good with them. We did a great job, but they still got the win so it didn’t really matter, I guess,” Nabby said.

What mattered is offensively Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, a pair of snipers, both had good looks at the net to shoot the puck past Chicago goalkeeper Antti Niemi , but couldn’t finish and Joe Pavelski’s line had 17 shots on goal and couldn’t score.

“For the most part we were the best team out there,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “But we lost. It’s as simple as that.”

As simple as losing sight of the puck.

“I’m always hoping to make one save more than the other guy,” Nakobov said. “You just never know. If I was in my first year (as a rookie) I may try to think how the game went. Now I don’t even think about it. Whatever happens happens because you cannot predict how the game is going to go. You have to ready for whatever.”


The Sharks did not play badly in Game 1. They obviously need to play better in Game 2. Or they will be fighting for their playoff lives going to Chicago for Game 3.


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