It's always tough playing against a friend. But that's what the Sharks did tonight, taking on long time fan favorite and starting netminder, Evgeni Nabokov. However, it wasthe first time that "Nabby" took on his former team. And while the New York Islanders' playoff hopes are pretty much eliminated, you knew they'd put up a big fight. Team Teal ended up putting up a bigger fight as they defeated the Isles 4-3 for their fifth straight win and at least keep tied in points with the Ducks at 95.
Sharks started the scoring early as the surging Matt Nieto made it 1-0. Just over a minute later, Jason Demers added to the lead to make it 2-0 with a quick wrist shot beating Nabokov. Team Teal looked like it was going to take the game and control the rest of the way but early in the 2nd, the Isles' Andres Lee deposited a backhand shot that made it 2-1. The teams would go back and forth trading goals. Exactly nine minutes after the Isles scored, Joe Thornton passed it into the net to make it 3-1. Near the end of the period, Brock Nelson cut the lead down to 3-2. San Jose had to keep up their game. The Isles weren't going anywhere. But a little over a minute left, Martin Havlat added an insurance marker to make it 4-2.
In the third period, Sharks current goaltender, Antti Niemi kept out scoring chance after scoring chance until late in the game where Frans Nielsen made it interesting at 4-3 with 21 seconds remaining. Sharks killed off the final seconds, and they were victorious for the second consecutive night and temporarily had first place in the Pacific by themselves... Which lasted a couple of hours. With Anaheim's stirring 6-4 comeback win, the Ducks took back it's tiebreakers over San Jose for the division lead.
The Sharks will take the quick bus ride to Madison Square Garden to finish off their last Eastern road game (until hopefully late May or early June) with a tilt against the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Anaheim will fly back to Los Angeles to play their game in hand. Go Kings?! I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.