Navokov Perfect in Win Over Stars

The San Jose Sharks didn't need their best effort to extend an already huge lead over the Dallas Stars in the Pacific Division.

Evgeni Nabokov's goaltending was more than enough to make up for San Jose's imperfections.

Nabokov made 29 saves, Devin Setoguchi scored with 12:05 remaining and the Sharks stretched their winning streak to four games with a 1-0 victory over the Stars on Monday night.

"I don't think we were at our best by any means," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I don't think we skated well or moved the puck well. On the other side, their team played extremely hard."

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But in the only NHL game on Monday night, the Stars couldn't get the puck past Nabokov, who registered his fifth shutout of the season, the 45th of his career, and improved to 32-7-7.

The Sharks boosted their league-high point total to 91, giving them a 26-point pad over the second-place Stars in the division.

The Stars put the pressure on in the first period, outshooting the Sharks 11-5.

"Nabby was playing great," said San Jose's Ryane Clowe. "They had six or seven scoring chances in the first period. He did a good job making some plays with the puck, especially when they were coming hard on the forecheck. We don't want to have to make him work that much."

Nabokov got a lift from teammates who blocked 17 shots, and he also had some good fortune when Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas rang a shot off the post on the power play with about 11 minutes remaining in the third.

"It wasn't an easy game, it wasn't a perfect game, but it was good enough to win," Nabokov said.

Setoguchi gave Nabokov some breathing room when he pushed the puck up the right side and skated around Stars defenseman Darryl Sydor to get free. Setoguchi then fired a low shot from the circle that beat Dallas goaltender Marty Turco to the stick side for Setoguchi's 25th goal of the season.

"I saw (Sydor), he kind of stopped at the blue line," said Setoguchi, who scored his fifth regular-season goal in the last two seasons against the Stars. "I had to make a quick move, and once I did I could get by him. He could see one of my teammates coming, and that made him indecisive on the blue line."

Turco felt he should have stopped Setoguchi's shot, missing the puck by inches.

"Hindsight is always a beautiful thing and I wish I could have had that one back," Turco said. "You'd like to be in good position and take away that spot. If I was one inch over to the right and in a perfect square position, I would have had a lot better chance of saving it."

Turco stopped 23 shots while the Stars were losing for the fourth time in as many meetings with the Sharks this season after dismissing San Jose from the playoffs last spring.

Dallas remains at 65 points, seventh in a tightly bunched race for the final Western Conference playoff spots.

"We have to have a complete effort from everybody and we got that, but you also need execution and we didn't execute enough to find a goal," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "That's how you win hockey games. We had a lot of whacks at it but (Nabokov)was pretty good in there. He made some key saves."

The Stars were without three of their top players: centers Brad Richards (broken wrist) and Mike Modano (flu), and left wing Brenden Morrow (knee). Modano is day-to-day. The Stars are hoping Richards and Morrow will return if Dallas qualifies for the playoffs.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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