Sharks Are Closing In On Sweep
Sharks 1, Avalanche 0
Tuesday, April 27, 2004; Page D04
DENVER, April 26 -- Evgeni Nabokov's stinginess has the San Jose Sharks one win from their first trip to the conference finals.
Nabokov stopped 33 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs and Vincent Damphousse banked in a shot off Colorado goalie David Aebischer midway through the third period, helping the Sharks beat the Avalanche, 1-0, Monday night and take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
San Jose fought off Colorado's early rush, stuck to its puck-control offense and continued to ride Nabokov's playoff-long hot streak to set up a possible sweep Wednesday in Denver.
The Avalanche was much better defensively, limiting San Jose's chances and cutting down on the miscues that left Aebischer helpless at times in the first two games.
Colorado held San Jose to 17 shots -- five in the third period -- but continued to struggle finding the net against the stingy Sharks. The Avalanche has three goals against San Jose after scoring 19 in five games against Dallas in the first round.
San Jose didn't have a shot in the third period until Damphousse knocked in his own rebound off Aebischer's back with 11 minute 1 second left.
Aebischer blocked Damphousse's first attempt after Patrick Marleau's shot bounced hard off the boards, but Damphousse used Aebischer as a backboard to score inside the left post from behind the goal.
After being outworked and outhustled the first two games in San Jose, Colorado was intent on making sure that trend didn't go on once the series shifted to Denver.
The Avalanche had an extra jump in its step early in front of the home crowd, flying into San Jose's zone, zipping crisp passes, and pounding the Sharks with hard checks every chance they got.
But Nabokov made sure Colorado's early rush didn't lead to any goals with several tough stops, including a glove save on Milan Hejduk after a nice drop pass from Peter Forsberg. Nabokov also got a break when John-Michael Liles' shot from the blueline hit the left post through traffic.
San Jose controlled the flow much better in the second period, keeping the puck in Colorado's end a good chunk of the time. The Sharks just didn't get many good scoring chances out of it, with just six shots.
Colorado added 12 more shots in the second period, but still couldn't solve Nabokov. He got a piece of Hejduk's open shot from the slot on a power play midway through, then dived back to cover after the puck ricocheted between him and Colorado's Dan Hinote on a rebound in the closing seconds.
Nabokov also had 10 saves in the third period, including a sprawling stop on Teemu Selanne.
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