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Nabokov, Sharks blank Wings in Game 1

Thursday, 04.26.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Nabokov, Sharks blank Wings in Game 1
By Larry Lage, Associated Press

DETROIT -- The San Jose Sharks seized the momentum with the first goal of the series and then stunned the Red Wings by scoring again 24 seconds later.

Matt Carle and Mike Grier scored midway through the first period and Evgeni Nabokov made 34 saves to lead San Jose to a 2-0 victory over Detroit on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Nabokov's shutout was his first this postseason and the fifth of his career in the playoffs. He was tied for second in the NHL with seven during the regular season.

Dominik Hasek had to make just 17 saves because the Sharks played very conservatively after taking the two-goal lead.

Game 2 is Saturday in Detroit.

Entering the series, home ice was regarded as perhaps the only advantage the top-seeded Red Wings had against the fifth-seeded Sharks.

San Jose quickly took that edge away.

Carle's goal at 9:45 of the first period was set up by a fantastic series of passes around the perimeter, ending with Joe Thornton's cross-crease pass from the corner.

The Red Wings put San Jose's powerful power play on the ice for its first goal and lost the puck in their zone to set up the second score.

Grier was in the right place when the puck trickled into the slot and he wheeled around and beat Hasek with a slap shot.

It was a much different start for Detroit after taking 2-0 leads midway through the first period in each of its first two games in the first round against Calgary. The Red Wings won the series in Game 6 after winning all three games at home.

The Sharks seemed right at home in Detroit, perhaps because they won a league-high and franchise-record 26 games on the road this season and twice more in Nashville, including the series-winning victory in Game 5 last week.

The Red Wings had three power plays in the second period -- while San Jose didn't have one -- but they took just four shots.

San Jose's swarming defense had a lot to do with that, though Detroit did seem to miss Tomas Holmstrom standing in front of the crease to redirect and shield shots. Holmstrom missed the game with an eye injury and the Red Wings were also without defenseman Brett Lebda because of an ankle injury and concussion.

Even at full strength, however, Detroit doesn't seem to match up well with the Sharks' combination of depth, size, speed and skill. That appeared to be the case Thursday night and during the regular season, when San Jose won three of four meetings.

GAME NOTES: Hasek was pulled with just over a minute left, but the extra skater didn't seem to do much for Detroit's suddenly lackluster offense. ... Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was called for hooking against Thornton, in a key matchup, that set up San Jose's first goal. ... Carle and Grier's first-period scores were their second goals of the playoffs. ... Wings forward Kirk Maltby wore a logo with a 6 on his helmet, honoring Navy Blue Angels Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis, who died Saturday in South Carolina during an air show in South Carolina. Maltby rode in Davis' jet last summer. ... Several rows were empty in numerous upper-bowl sections at Joe Louis Arena, where the announced crowd of 18,712 was the smallest this postseason.

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